Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Saturday night it started snowing again and I think it might just be done now..... with more forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday. Is this really Victoria? We've easily gotten a foot here and other places on the fringes of town got more. Here's some shots of my first white Christmas in Victoria!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wintery Wanderings

When you turn to the weather station and the current weather says -17 Celsius with the windchill, you certainly don't feel like you're in Victoria. When you look out the window and see drifting snow swirled around by fiendish wind gusts, you don't feel like you're in Victoria. Despite the weather harking back to my childhood years on the prairies (yes I know, it's minus one hundred and thirty there right now) the nasty work of Jack Frost uncharacteristically hit Victoria this weekend. This was the sight Saturday night.

We decided to start a roaring fire and pour some 'adult' eggnog while watching some TV and listening the blustering wind. In the morning, this was the sight - 3 inches of the white stuff!

Now in Victoria, 3 inches is like 3 feet... unless you're talking about the Blizzard Of '96 (which everyone has such grand memories of!) I wasn't here but they talk of feet of snow falling in hours, calling in the National Guard, people eating their last can of Heinz beans while being housebound for days... I remember my first winter here schools closing on less snow than this, so I am pretty sure that the Blizzard Of '96, while scarring the minds of Victorians everywhere was not quite as dramatic as some tell it.

Nolana and her Gospel Choir were singing Sunday in a Christmas pageant (of which I have no pictures due to my hands being full of baby) and the congregation was half missing, the drummer was missing, choir members were missing, the brass was missing - all for 3 inches of snow. We take this stuff seriously here in Victoria!

That afternoon we put up the Christmas tree and I only broke 3 ornaments...

So Nolana made me pose for a picture and then politely told me to back away from the tree, NOW! Daija enjoyed her first tree raising - it will be a memory she will never forget. She was mesmerized by the lights, though.

Today was bitter cold. It is in fact -17 with the wind which is unusually bitter for Victoria. They don't really get days like this in Ethiopia....

To end with, and on that Ethiopia note, here are my two favorite Christmas decorations - both brought back from Ethiopia and made by disabled people there.

Angels on our tree.

The Christmas scene hanging.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

African Artists

For most people, you'll never get a chance to dig into the amazing myriads of music that comes out of Africa. If you have it's likely been some of the classics like Fela Kuti or Ali Farxe Toure, or perhaps some of the more accessible South African bands and choirs like Ladysmith Black Mombaza or Soweto Gospel Choir.

Today on Eric's wanderings I present a few samplings of modern African music from a variety of genres to make you smile, make you tap your foot, and just maybe, make you go check out some more. Most of them are not very well known in North America or maybe even outside of their countries. But all way cool.

First off, some Nigerian folk/pop in the vein of Tracey Chapman or even a little Jack Johnson type rhythm. Asa (Asha) is a fairly new artist and this is her song, "Fire on the Mountain."

The next selection is from a famous Senegalese/Moroccan drummer, Mokhatar Samaba off his new album Dounia, which is also the title of the song. It starts off with a recording of the famous Archbishop Tutu. Check him out.

Next up is something very different and way cool. The band is Tinariwen and they are a Tuareg protest group recording in their native Tamasheq. They play in their local styles and rhythms, mixed with some blues. The Tuareg are the bedouins of the Sahara and this group formed in a refugee camp and has started making the world take notice of their culture and their people's plight. Check out the song, "Chet Boghassa".

This one makes me just want to smile and bob my head every time I hear it. A collaboration between 113 from Algeria and Magic System from Cote d'Ivoire. It's hip-hop with a fun, African twist. The part around 1:54 always makes me laugh! Check it out, "Un Gaou Oran".

Lastly, some very cool cats from South Africa. If reincarnation could be real I would probably choose to be one of these guys. BLK JKS from Johannesburg, some psychedelic, African inspired rock. Taking a look at this video, some day I want to be at a show like this... Check out "Summertime" here.

Well, that;s it for now - maybe at some point I'll do it again. Tell me if you enjoyed it, if you skipped through it because there were no pictures of my baby, or if you want recommendations. Peace all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Erta-Ale Explosion

A cool update to increase your random knowledge.

Recently, the only active volcano in Ethiopia (Mt. Erta Ale) erupted. It's in the Danakil Depression which borders Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti (for you Ethiopia neophytes - think East). The Danakil is the lowest point in Africa (500 feet below sea level), one of the hottest places on the continent, and where they found Lucy.

Some friend of ours in Ethiopia sent us this picture. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One Month

My baby's one month today! Crazy.

She's gained almost 2 lbs already despite a slow start, she's way more alert, getting to be more vocal, follows bright obstacles or my face around and recognizes sounds. Pretty cool.

I love her eyes when she's awake; they're so big! I love her feet too, so perfect and small. So smooth - hasn't walked any miles in anybody's shoes yet.

She's such a content baby and when she does cry I realize I'm a sucker - I just want to go pick her up and comfort her. If she was a wailer I might go nuts...

I think she's the bee's knees for sure.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Here's some interesting reads:

20 Doctors graduate in Somalia for the 1st time in 20 years - and the great thing is the grads did it through decades of turmoil and will likely only be able to practice in Somalia... that is dedication! Check it out here.

Rick Mercer writes a wicked blog on the coalition talk. Check it out here.

An article on Bush's post-presidency plans - hard to redeem a legacy like his! But he plans to try by building a Freedom Institute that he proudly acknowledges will be "non-academic" because Bush never really liked academics (intimidated likely) and only people who line up with Bush's views need apply to help out. Seriously. Check it out here.

I found out one of my relatives (like 3rd cousin) was one of those who died in Afghanistan, number 54 of a total that has now reached 101. He was Joint Task Force and died in an accident. You can check out the story here.

And, finally, You can find out how your food feels before being eaten here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Of a Coalition

So Canadians are in an uproar, the Prime Minister claims a "coup" is about to happen, and Stephane Dion goes from scapegoat to possible Prime Minister in the matter of months.

I haven't really formulated any cohesive thoughts on the matter, just smatterings that I shall post here. Disagree at will.

1. The heart of the problem is Canadian's misconceptions about the Canadian political system. In a parliamentary system such as we have we vote for MPs, not for who will be the Prime Minister. This is not America. These MPs represent us and the leader who has the most MPs and the confidence of the House becomes the PM. Harper clearly did not have the support of the House or of a majority of MPs.

2. For those who say Canadians voted for the Liberals or the NDP, not a coalition... You are missing the point of a coalition. They are meant to be made after elections. In many countries around the world this is how it is done and how it has been attempted here in Canada before.

3. For those who slam Dion for joining forces with the seperatist Bloc (as our esteemed PM has done), Harper tried the exact same thing to try and oust a weak Liberal government. He courted the Bloc and they turned him down. Hmmmmm....

4. Public opinion is important and somehow, despite all the pluses of a coalition, opinion is very split. The coalition needs to make sure that they're not shooting themselves in the foot for the next elections.

5. I think I would have rather seen the Conservatives try and form a coalition but Mr. Harper felt he had the support to go ahead and govern like he had a majority; he tried to bully his way through and someone called his bluff. He has realized the error of his ways but now it may be too late for him.

6. If the Governor-general decides on another election, my bet is that the NDP and Libs make a deal not to run competing candidates where the Conservative government won by vote splitting (such as in my riding). This would likely lead to a NDP/Liberal governing coalition anyways.

7. I am willing to give the coalition a chance to govern and see what happens.

8. Guaranteed, interesting times in Canadian politics.