West Kelowna forest fire

Our Most Precious Belongings

Our Most Precious Belongings

The Fire

My daughter and her husband were on evacuation stand-by, in West Kelowna, last week. Every night, they watched the 260 hectares fire burn across the road.

The shift of the wind, the temperature, the rain forecast, the number of fire fighters, the sound of aircrafts with retardants and water bombers, these became their life’s focus. Ours too.

I had fire updates on www.castanet.net on speed dial. So did she. While she was at work, I texted her immediately if I saw the posts first.

Possible Evacuation

Some of the people in her neighbourhood acted like the fire was a sideshow. My daughter said, at night, families sat on their roofs to get a better view. Forest fires were a fact of life, in the Okanagan, they said. Everything would be fine.

Not everyone was so unperturbed. When she came home from work early to pack, the first day of the fire, an elderly neighbour came over and asked my daughter if she would come and get her if they had to evacuate.
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doesn't matter how right they are

On Being Right And Being Wrong

Being Right

The level of being right is never a discussion. Right is right. End of story.

Whenever this happens, a surge of self-righteous energy fills me and keeps me going for the next week. I. Was. Right. I told you so!

Being Wrong

Being wrong is a different matter. Is being wrong putting too much milk in our partner’s morning coffee? Are we referring to the use of ‘than’, rather than ‘then’, in a story?

Being is not as clearly cut as being right. The errors above don’t equal being wrong in the choice of partners, in a car accident, in anger toward an undeserving person, or leaving the tap on and flooding the floors below.

Then there’s the difference between being wrong and realizing we are wrong. Example:

“Did you leave your socks on the floor, again?” asked the wife.

“Nope,” answered the husband. “The dog must have dragged them there.”

Unless we accept our mistake, being wrong feels like being right. Not too much happens to our sense of self when the interaction is done.

So what happens when we realize we are wrong? Do we feel any different?

The Ferry Ride

A few years after my separation with my ex, I found myself on a ferry, in Northern Greece. This was a holiday with my oldest, and my first real excursion away from the luxuries we had enjoyed in our life as a family.
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hiking bridge

Fun and Fitness: Hiking

Fun and Fitness: Hiking at Chutes Monte-à-Peine-et-des Dalles

Since my decision to hike the Annapurna Circuit, I’ve joined a few groups of local walkers/hikers. Yesterday, I had the pleasurable company of one group, heading to Chutes Monte-à-Peine-et-des-Dalles, approximately an hour, north of Montréal.

The Park and Trails

Twenty-seven of us car-pooled and met up at the park gates. With some hiking groups, there is the option of going off on our own and doing a trail to our ability. With this park’s 17 km. of easy trails, we stayed together.

This meant we had to wait for the slower people on stairs, likely used to protect the environment, and during the few climbs. I really enjoyed this. It gave us the chance to chat with everyone, not just those, hiking at the same speed.

trails on chutes montes-àpeine-et-des-dalles

We took the trail from the entrance at top right and followed it to the entrance on the left (blue line). Then we retraced our steps, veered off at the red path, followed it to the green one and on to the river.
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hand and ring

Relationship Deal Breakers 2

Relationship Deal Breakers 2 – Grounds For Divorce

After looking at some major relationship deal breakers, it seemed logical to find out what the legal grounds for the ultimate separation, a divorce, would be.  My interest was in identifying which of our stated reasons, if any, were more legitimate than others.

Here’s what I found from North America and a few other countries. I thought the differences in legal specifications, across cultures and geographical spaces, were quite interesting .
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wolves in love

Relationship Deal Breakers

Relationship Deal Breakers

How do you know when to break up with someone? When do you decide you’ve had enough? Are there criteria or parameters we can establish to prevent reaching the final assault or to make the final decision easier?

The quick and simple answer is no. The more complicated answer is maybe.

The first of this two-part series looks at some of the most important reasons for breakups. The second looks at the legal grounds for divorce. Is there a margin of error between them? If so, why? How can this help us to search for and maintain better relationships?
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Annapurna Circuit

Incredible Journey # 6 – Trekking

Trekking Long Trails

Treks, footpaths, trails, pilgrimages, these are all words to describe a  journey with hardships or difficulties. They also imply time spent alone with nature, often struggling with inner weaknesses as much as with obstacles on the trail itself.

There are dozens of these paths, throughout the world and, within everyone’s reach. Some examples include:

1) Santiago de Compostela (Way of St-James), a trail that spreads across Spain, France, Austria, Italy and other European countries and takes 30 – 35 days to complete.

2) Appalachian Trail is a 2180 mile footpath, stretching through 14 states in the Eastern U.S. It takes six months to finish.

3) Annapurna Circuit, a three-week, 260 kilometer loop through the Annapurna range of Nepal.

Could I Do One Of These?

Most of these treks are doable in smaller chunks, but let’s take the Annapurna Circuit, for example. Would someone like myself, with reasonable health, fitness, mental capacity and determination be able to finish this 14 – 21 day trekking journey? If so, how would I prepare for it?
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Zagreb rose

Inspiring Woman #3 – Slavenka Drakulić

Inspirational Woman #3 – Slavenka Drakulić

I discovered Ms. Drakulic in the English section of a Croatian bookstore, in Zagreb. Amidst the Nora Roberts, John Grishams, Martin Cruz Smith and a collection of classics sat two piles of her books, an author whose name I could barely pronounce and whose subject, communism, I’d already realized from my few weeks in Central Europe, I knew too little about.

The book I bought was called Café Europa – Life After Communism. On the back cover, it says: In the place of a fallen Berlin wall, there is a chasm between East and West, consisting of the different way people continue to live and understand the world….a visitor to this part of the world will soon discover that we, the Eastern Europeans, live in another time zone.

Drakulic’s Café Europa is a collection of twenty-four essays/short stories on communism. Some of these are her own observations/experiences, others cover Croatia’s camp Jasenovac, the separation of the former Yugoslavia, bad teeth and other, at first glance, mismatched topics.
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