Monday, February 23, 2015

If you want to understand Germans, watch this New Year's Eve tradition

This was filmed in 1965 by HR and has since become the German New Year's Eve tradition.   Yes, it is in English and many of the people that love it speak very little English.   At its' heart it is a true expression of German humour





Friday, January 16, 2015

Depression Day 16 - How low can I go?

I am in a bad spiral at the moment and I need to break out of it.   This should he as simple as getting up and walking out the door.   For three hours I have been telling myself that and still I am here.

I know intellectually what I need to do, really everything I need to be doing, but it does not happen.

This pattern has to end because it is grinding me down.  I am amazed at what I have managed to endure, but I can see the edges are all very frayed.  I am only one small disaster away from the end.



Mood
Happy - 2
Energy - 3
Stress - 9

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Depression Day 15 - A Break from Writing

I missed writing for a bunch of days, I want to write everyday but I also do not want it to be a chore.  
So why did I not write?   It is because I am having real trouble focusing on getting work done, to getting anything actually.  Everything is a chore.   I get stuck doing nothing or wasting time online pointlessly.  

It feels better to be writing at all and this means I could get some work done.   This drives me nuts because I have to stop working shortly to take Max skating.

I will break for the moment and might come back today


Mood
Happy - 3
Energy - 3 but rising
Stress - 6-9 depending on the moment

Friday, January 09, 2015

Depression Day 9 - I need to change my thinking

I need to deal with how I am thinking, I am letting my mind take me down and interfere with my life.

What I need to do is change how I think, I need to fight against the easy path to following the negativity.  

Can just changing my thinking be the answer to the depression?   I do not but it least it is a hopeful approach for me.   What I am going to try and do over the next few weeks is seek out some of the motivational writers out there.   I am not sure where I am going to start, but I will let you know tomorrow.


Mood
Happy - 4
Energy - 5
Stress - 6

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Rebuild: Episode 1: The Intro

I ma very interested in what Shawn is doing and it is giving some inspiration today



Depression Day 8 - Stress

This depression is causing me no end of stress in my life.   It is hard to get things done with depression and that then causes me to feel stressed which then deepens the depression.   Repeat ad naseum.

I feel like if I could reduce the stress in my life I could tackle the depression better.   On the other hand if the stress is gone the depression might lighten enough that I will not end up taking the action I need to make myself happy again.

I feel like I am in a Catch-22, the depression causes stress and the stress inflames the depression.  Ultimately I have to figure out how to fix both at the same time.


Mood
Happy - 4
Energy - 4
Stressed - 6

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Depression Day 7 - My mind is blank

I need to be writing for work and other stuff today, but my mind is blank.    Not like a writer's block, but a almost quais Zen sort of blank.   I can not even thing of what to write here today.

Blank


Mood
Happy - 5
Energy - 2
Stress - 7

Monday, January 05, 2015

Memories of my life before my 4th birthday aka the birth of Nik von Schulmann

I have a very clear images of my life as a little kid but before I was five I had no idea of date or times.   I can within my mind connect a narrative of my life that starts somewhere around two and runs to today.  

I did not know dates or time because my parents did not teach me to read or even to understand numbers.    September meant nothing to me, 8:00 am meant nothing to me, 1968 meant nothing to me.  I have all manner of images in my head but for most of them I can not be certain of the date.  Most images I can date I can only do so because of some event related to it.   My mind is full of day to day things that happened when I was very young but I could not tell you the date.

I can remember being a little kid and wearing shorts and rubber boots with no socks, I can still remember that feeling of running through damp grass and feeling the cool go through to my feet.  I can remember riding in the car in the front seat without a seat belt and standing up while driving so I could look out the window.

I can remember my second birthday.  I also remember my third birthday.

On my second birthday my mother wanted to take a picture of me at the little table where I had my cake and presents.  I stopped her and ran and got a ratty half chewed up toy to put on the table along with my presents.  I understood that she was documenting the moment with the camera and it was important to me to have this toy on the table as well.

For my third birthday I invited my best friends, Paul and Dina von Hahn, Robbie and Bjorn Turmann and Peter who's last name I can not remember.  

I can remember going to the Hahn's in Richmond before I spent a number of weeks the summer of 1968 but it is that summer of that year I can date because it was when my aunt Nata dropped in with my new born cousin Andreas.    I can remember not really having a reaction to him as such but the living room Nata was in was dark the curtains were drawn and the lights were off it was also a wood paneled room.   I was on the south edge of the room maybe on the couch?

 I can not remember staying with the von der Lindens which was for a number of weeks either in 1966 or 1967.

I can remember Paul von Hahn's birthday's in 1968 and 1969 but the two are conflated together.    I can still remember the placement of things in the backyard especially the all important sandbox

I can remember dinner at the kitchen table before Nik was born, both in June when the sun blinded us at the table and in the winter when it was dark outside by the time we ate.   I know it is before Nik was born because I am only at the table with my parents and sister.  

I remember two places where my grandmother lived before she became the housekeeper for the old doctor.  One was on the water near Jericho.  The even older one was a craftsman house in Vancouver in the area around 13th near the hospital.

I can remember our dog Tiger very well and he was put down before Nik was born.  I have no memory of Hundi who died not long after we moved to Tsawwassen in 1966.  I can remember the day Tiger broke his chain and caught the newspaper boy.  I can remember Tiger scaring men that came into the house.  I have an image of one of my uncles standing against the kitchen wall near the door trying to be away from Tiger.   I think it was Lorenz but it might have been Nils.

I remember the addition to the sundeck, which was before Nik, as was building the bedroom downstairs.  I can remember moving from the smaller upstairs bedroom to the larger one.  All these events would have been at some point in 1969.   I sort of remember the accident with the girl that fell through the plate glass window, but the details are very fuzzy.

I have memories of the Okanagan that are very early and from a trip my mother says I should not remember because it was in the spring of 1966.

I remember my first trip to the airport in the summer of 1967 to pick up my aunt Sabine.  This would have been before I was 2.  This was the old airport terminal in Vancouver on the south side of the airports.   The new terminal opened in 1968.

I do not have any memory of the trip to the Okanagan with my family, Tante Sabine and Helmut in 1967.

I can remember my first ferry trip which was in the year my grand parents came to visit the summer of 1969.

I can remember getting our first colour TV but I am not sure what year that was.  I can remember my father and Beatrice playing around with it during the time I wanted to be watching cartoons.   I can remember the managed to damage the instant on feature on the first day.

I can remember the highchair I used because of the feel and smell of the vinyl of the chair.  Also the feeling of the strap between the legs.  I can remember someone tipping the chair sideways for a picture at Christmas, which when looking through the photo album I see that was 1968.   It means I was still using at age three.

I can remember various changes in furniture but not when, only one orange chair that spun around can I date to when it arrived, Christmas 1968

I do not remember the Jolly Jumper I used at age 9 months.

I can remember an Easter thing at the Schillings in Vancouver in 1968.   The main thing I remember is being lifted to sit on the edge of dining table.  The table was near the entry to the room which was on the right hand side as you came into the house.  I have a memory of Beatrice looking dressed up or older.  

I remember a trip to Bowen Island that I was told was in the summer of 1968

I can remember when I was about 5 pointing the clock in the kitchen and saying my bed time should be later.   I knew it showed time and the hands were the indication of it so I told my mother my bed time should be when the long hand pointed to the bottom left.   In my mind I can still see the clock and where the long hand was.  I can see the light in the room and that my mother was standing to my right and behind me a bit.  My sister was in the kitchen as well.  It was after dinner and still light but the light was fading.  What I can not make out are the numbers on the clock.

I can remember the built in bookshelves and stereo system going in, but which year that was I am not sure.

I have no memory of July 1st 1967 or the moon landing in 1969.  Events of the world did not impact my life at this age as far as I can tell.

 I can remember the trip to Demmit Alberta around New Years 1967-68.  It was the first time I ever really felt cold or experienced deep crisp snow

I remember my favorite stuffed animal being stolen by a dog and my mother needing to chase in the car to get it back.   This was before Nik was born but how when I do not know.

I can clearly remember Christmas 1968 and getting my first Brio set.   I also got a wooden farmyard set and marvelled at the smooth feeling of the flat painted animals

I can remember the first time I was at Kinderlager - a week long camp for Baltic German kids held at the Baltenhaus in Hope, I was allowed to go in the summer of 1969 when I was younger than any of the other kids there because I knew so many of them.   I am trying to remember the details of what we did, but I went to Kinderlager each year till I was about 11 years old so it is hard to remember what happened in what year.

I remember my first Halloween in 1968 and hating the feeling of the mask on my face.  The material of the costume was also one I did not like.  I was a skeleton.

I can remember the building of Roberts Bank, especially the overpass on Highway 17 as well as Highway 17 being double laned.  I remember the hanger on the old airbase being used for skating but I am uncertain when I went there but the dates it was in use predates Nik's birth.    I have no memory of Beatrice being badly hurt skating

I remember the corner of 12A and 56th in Tsawwassen having a four way stop.

I have no memory of being very ill when I was around a year old - I had pneumonia

I do not remember the big dead trees in the front yard being taken down.   I do remember the planting of the Doug Fir, but that was I think in the spring of 1970.

I am have no certain memories of Christmas 1967.   I think I got a Tonka cement truck and a red tricycle.

I can remember Christmas 1968 because of the Brio train set and farm yard I got.  I also remember my sister teasing me, sort of, with the slip she got.  I can remember not liking the feel of the material.



Depression Day 5 - Headaches and Isomnia

Headaches and insomnia - is this part of the depression or does the depression cause them?   Either way I have too much of either.  

On about one night in four I have real trouble falling asleep.  I have very little caffeine in my life and never have it after 6 pm, but I seem to be having more frequent nights were I simply can not fall asleep.    My mind is not worrying as such, all manner of thoughts are going through it but nothing worse than during the day.   I stress about it because I know my energy will be way down the next day.

I can tell the difference between getting 8 hours of sleep and 7, there is a clear drop in my intellectual skills.   At six hours I make more and more mistakes and can not easily see the answers to problems.   At 4 to 5 hours I can not get any useful intellectual work done, I can pretend but the work I do will not be worth much as I will effectively have to redo all the work.

I am operating on an average of about 6 hours a night at the moment - not enough to do what I need to do.  It means I only have one usefully productive day in three.   It is rare to get two good days in a row.  

The insomnia saps my energy which means I do not get out and active in the way I need, really in the way I want to.  

Headaches seem to be normal for my day to day to life at the moment.   It takes very little for one to start.   I am almost completely off of alcohol because I can be almost certain to have a headache a few hours later.   I have had massive stress in my life for many years so I do not think these are stress headaches but much of the time that is what it feels like.

I take ibuprofen gel caps to deal with the headaches and this seems to make the headaches go away, but not as much as I would like it to.   I want to be able to forget about headaches and not have a dull pain ready to come out when ever I really do not need it.

It is as if you mind is using my body to attack me and stop me from dealing with the depression.  As if there are demons within me that are looking for ways to screw up my life.  It makes it easier for me to get a grasp on the depression if I can give it a name or some sort of substance, something that is not really me.

I have no desire to have insomnia and headaches being part of what is normally Bernard.   I have an idea of who I am and depression along with its malevolent offspring are not part of that.  

Mood
Happy - 3
Energy - 2
Stress - 8

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Depression Day 4 - I really hate rain

Being from the west coast you would think I could tolerate rain but I hate it with a passion.   The 7 degrees and rain that is happening outside of my home is about the most miserable weather I can think of.    I raise this because the rain does little or nothing to improve my mood.   I have no desire to go outside.

The greyness of the west coast winter is not something that lightens my mood.   When it is damp and grey I have struggle a lot more to get anything done.   Just looking outside makes me feel cold and uncomfortable.  Here in Victoria it is sunny less than 1/3 of the time for the whole winter which is better than Vancouver where is less than a 1/4 of the time.  In Calgary it is sunny on average for half the day in the winter.  

Overall people say the west coast is great even in the winter because there is no snow.   I would love to trade the seven months of damp grey for -40 and snow.  

When I look back at my life, I was happier a lot more of the time when I lived in Lillooet.   It is rare to have rain in Lillooet and the skies are clear the vast majority of the time.  

Here in Victoria it feels like it takes my months to shake of the damp grey of the winter, by the time I do it tends to high summer with only a month or two before the return of the rains.  

Would I be happier or manage my depression better if I lived in southern California, Hawaii or even Turkey?   I do not know, but I can feel a sense of desire to live somewhere dry.

I know I do need to figure out how to become a generally happy person even when it rains, and rains and rains and rainds



Mood
Happy - 4
Energy - 4
Stress - 7

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Depression Day 3 - Out of the Blue by Jan Wong

Jan Wong's book Out of the Blue: a memoir of workplace depression, recovery, redemption and yes, happiness was a serious starting point within me to understanding my depression.  

I listened to her talk about it on CBC in the late spring of 2012.   I gained some clarity on my situation but I also got a lot more scared, I could see what had been happening to me not for a couple of years due to insane amounts of life changing stress all at once but was something that had been part of me for a very, very long time.

I was diagnosed by my GP with depression in 2010, but I took this to be situational because my mother had died recently as had my father-in-law and both of the deaths were very involved and emotionally draining beyond that  my fourth son had been born, my faithful hound Laika had died, I was in a new marriage, I was renovating a house, there was a new blended family, work was hard to keep on an even keel, and I was not living in a city I particularly like.   I no end of reasons to justify why I was in a stressed mood that lead to a depression.    I could confidently expect that once things were better in my life the depression would go away as well.  

I do not think I really accepted my diagnosis at the time and I think the Welbutrin worked more as a placebo for me because I believed at the heart of things I was not a depressed person but then I heard Jan Wong speak on the radio.   It hit me like a ton of bricks. but even then I was not ready to accept what being depressed really meant for me, it took another two years before I really started doing something about it.   Even as recently as March of 2014 I was still in denial about how bad it is.

The book is one I recommend to people to read.

I would write more, but I am doing some stuff with my boys this evening and I need to prep for it.


Mood
Happy -  3
Energy - 4 - I had insomnia last night, I really did not get to sleep till around
Stress - 7, I think it will rise as the day goes on

Friday, January 02, 2015

Depression Day 2 - Do I look better?

I had coffee with a friend today, a good thing for me to do because it is so easy for me ot hide out in the house and only communicate with people on social media.  Anyway, this person had not seen me in person for some months and he said I looked better, that I was more animated.   Hmmm?

I have had a very bad last three or four weeks - Christmas is a very core important family event for me, it always has been.  This year I never managed to get into the spirit until the 24th.   I could not take joy in something as simple as my tree - the magic of the season to me is wrapped up in a candlelight tree.    On December 31st I was felling very alone.  Christmas and New Year are now over.   I am just recovering enough from a deep trough of depression that I look good?

I do not feel much better, I just do not feel as bad as I had been.   He had not seen me over Christmas so he would not have seen how low I had managed to get.    My reaction to him telling me I looked better was slightly shocked, I do not feel much better in general.   I was almost defensive at him saying it.  

I am not sure what else to say today.   I think I might leave it at this because it is later in the day than I had expected and I have various things to get done around the house etc.

Mood
Happy - 4
Energy - 5
Stress - fluctuating between 6 and 9

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Depression Day 1 - Depression is really depressing

Very rarely do I hear people talk about depression being depressing, but it is.   The endlessness of it, the hopelessness of it, is all depressing.   It sucks,

I have no desire to be depressed, I have no desire to have depression be a part of my identity.   I want it gone but when I talk to others with depression they tell me they cope with it, they accept it, they live with it.   I find that very depressing.   It is a fatalism that does not make anything better.

Just be happy - I wish I could.   It is depressing not being able to be happy even when you do the things that you really like.

----- Break of Several Hour ----

My youngest son Max is I thinking suffering from a lack of sleep, he has spent the last two hours throwing a temper tantrum

My mood today
Happy  - 3
Energy - 3
Stress - 7


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

365 Days of Depression

So I went through 2014 in very deep depression for most of the year.   I have struggled with how to talk about it and not be defined by it.  What I am going to try in 2015 is to write about it day by day for the year.

For my own benefit I want to measure how my mood was on any given day.  Was I happy or not?  Was getting out of bed easy?   Could I get the mundane tasks done?  and more.

I have tried to be alone with my thoughts about the depression and to try and work through it in meditation or worship but it is not working well enough.  I think I need to write down my thoughts and feelings about it.   Putting it on this blog and giving me a target of one post per day for a year gives me something to live up to with enough constant urgency so that it will force to be more deliberate in my thinking about it, or I should say in purging my thinking of the depression.   I have no idea where it will take me, I just hope it will one of the tools to defeat this depression.

Tomorrow will be the first day.   For now in the various languages that matter the most for me:

Happy New Year - Frohes Neu Jahr - Head Uut Aastat 
Gott Nytt år - Bonne Année - С Новым Годом - Kloshe Chee Cole

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Volcanoes in the Pacific North West

As someone born in Vancouver in 1965 volcanoes became real for me  when Mount St Helens erupted on the May long weekend in 1980 - it was about ten to nine in the morning on Sunday May 18th.   I was in the Okanagan on Three Mile Beach near Penticton when the eruption happened.   I heard the explosion as I was looking south over the lake and thought there was blasting going on somewhere in the direction of Apex.   The next morning everything had a minute dusting of volcanic ash.   

I think until then the idea of volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest was just not real for people because it had been so long since there had been an eruption in this region.   The nearest was Mount Lassen in Northern California in 1915.    But this region is very much an active volcanic region.

Cascade Volcanic Arc stretches from northern California to the mid coast of BC and has some 18 volcanoes

Start of the Last Major Eruptions 
May 18th 1980 - Mount St Helens
May 22nd 1915 - Lassen Peak
1866 - Mount Hood
1843?  - Mount Baker - there has been activity since then, but nothing major
1830s - Mount Rainer -  There is no clarity when the last major eruption happened other than it was between 1820 and 1854  it is listed as one of the 16 decade volcanoes globally which are volcanoes that might erupt and are close enough to populated areas to be of concern.
1786? - Mount Shasta
1782 - Mount Hood
1700+-100 - Glacier Peak
ca 1300 - Silverthorne



Thursday, September 18, 2014

At 100 Years World War One is now History

2014 is the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War One.   The war is long enough ago that it is history for most people and not something that is a personal experience.   The last veterans of the war are dead, most of the children of the veterans are dead as well, the first hand stories have faded away.  World War One is history now.

I had one grandfather fight in World War One, August von Schulmann.  I never met my grandfather because he was shot and dumped in a mass grace 20 years before I was born.  He was 28 when the war started and was called up as a Russian cavalry officer.   I never had a chance to ask him about his experience.  My von Schulmann grandmother died in 1945 in a Soviet labour camp which means she was not around for me to ask what it was like for her.

My mother's parents were both alive for World War One, but my grandfather was only 12 at the start of the war and my grandmother 9.   I was only 14 when my grandfather Patrick von Dellingshausen died and never spoke with him about the war.   He was also in Germany and I only saw him four times in my life, though for extended periods each time.

My grandmother Maria von Fersen lived in Vancouver and was around all the time.  When I was in my late teens I did have a chance to ask her about World War One.  She did not really remember anything about the war because it did not directly effect her life.   What she did remember very well was the Estonian War of Independence in 1919.   She remembered having to hide from the Reds and the utter fear of the time.   She also remembered that it was then when they went from being very rich to middle class.  

I am talking about World War One through my family because as a youth I asked everyone in my extended family and ethnic community what they did in World War Two.   Iwould have asked about World War One but by the time I was asking this in the early 1980s there was no one around any longer to ask about it.    For me World War One is on the edge of history.   The Western Front and allied experience is history as is the German experience.   My small direct connection to World War One is only through what happened to my family.

For my family World War One was a major watershed in our history.   The war marked a fundamental change to our 700 years in the Baltics.  Our position as part of the aristocracy came to end in 1917.  We ended up losing our standing and losing most of our lands.  I say "our" because I grew up with the stories of this change, this is the history of World War One that I connect to.

For my family World War One is intimately connected to the Russian Civil War, the two flowed into to each other as one ongoing conflict with the Russian Civil War being the much more traumatic.  For my mother the civil war meant that as a child she grew being very much in fear of the Bolsheviks.   The fear was enough that her father owned real estate in Germany in the interwar to protect the wealth of the family.

The experience of World War One still showed itself in the 1970s in my family.  My grandfather Patrick von Dellingshausen lived in Lübeck for the last years of his life, he feared a Soviet invasion of West Germany and moved some of his money to Canada to protect it.

For my parents generation who did not personally experience World War One and the Russian Civil War the much bigger impact on their lives was World War Two.   The worst that happened between 1914-1919 paled in comparison to what happened between 1939 and 1947.  My grandparents witnessed the end of the life of privilege, my parents lived through Stunde Null.

For the next four years there will be a lot of talking about events of 100 years ago during World War One.  I worry that the personal connection is no longer there and the war will no longer be truly horrific to the world.

 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Using Google autocomplete "Why is [province} so...."

Top five options from Google in the auto complete for "Why is [province] so...?"

BC
Expensive
Prone to earthquakes
Warm
Cold
Expensive to live in

Alberta
Cold
Conservative
Rich
Windy
Warrm

Saskatchewan - only four came up
Cold
Flat
Windy
Boring

Manitoba
Cold
Flat
Great

Ontario
Populated
Humid
Warm this winter
Warm
Hot

Quebec
Corrupt
Racist
Populated
Cold
French

New Brunswick Nova Scotia only one answer
Poor

Newfoundland
Foggy
Cold
Irish
Obese

Nunavut
Cold
Unpopulated
Expensive

Yukon one answer
Sparsely populated

Canada
Cold
Boring
Big
Awesome
Rich

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Depression

Where do I start?  

I have bad depression.   It has been very bad for the last five months but it has been around consistently for years.   How bad?   I am not sure I can admit that in public.

I was in denial about it for most of my adult life, even when I got some treatment in 2009 I do not think I truly accepted it.

Denial happened because to admit it was to say I am a flawed person, that I am a failure.  I was ashamed that I was weak.   I also grew up in a family where we should be able to suck it up.   I made bad decisions because I was trying to keep up appearances.  

I have to admit I have a mental health problem. I have to admit my mind is not right.   This has been the single hardest thing I have done in my life.

The first step is that I have to admit it to myself.  Admitting to myself works best when I am open about it to others.   I have to allow my public persona match my private one enough to be vulnerable.

Depression has been very lonely and isolating as well.   This year I have been telling people and I have had many people to do not understand it but others who get it because they have been through it.  It has been good to connect with friends that have been through serious depression as well.  

As part of my process to try and improve my mental health I am going to try and write about my depression.  I hope that by expressing in written word what has been going on I can understand what is going on with me and find ways to cope.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Family Silver

What remains of my family silver
Family Silver is a concept referring to the remains of what a family haves, in my case in my family we actually have family silver though very little remaining.

Two pieces have belonged to me since I have been a baby, a pitcher and a shot glass.   With my parents death what was left was divided between Nik, Beatrice and myself.

The family silver I have is:

  • Five Spoons from the 1880s
  • Two Forks from the 1890s
  • 4 shot glasses from the 1960s and 70s
  • A baptismal cup from 1929
  • A pitcher from before 1860
  • 12 knife rests from the 1960s

 




This is the baptismal cup for my mother Margarita Esther von Dellingshausen
I think this cup should go to my sister's first granddaughter


The single most important piece to me is this pitcher.  I was made in the mid 19th century and was originally a piece of von Grünewaldt silver.   In about 1864 the family home was broken into and all the family silver was stolen but the robber was seen by my great grandmother Ebba.   Her description helped the police find the robbers but all the silver other than this one piece were melted down.

At the end of World War 2 it was still in the possession of my great grandmother as she was transported by the Soviets to a labour camp in Siberia with her daughter Beate and granddaughter Sabine.   Ebba died on the way to the labour camp and Beate shortly after arriving.  Somehow Sabine managed to keep a hold of this pitcher through her 12 years in the labout camp.    She says it is because it was so tarnished and beat up that no one thought it was silver.   When she was released from the Soviet Union she managed to bring it out with her.

Sabine gave it to me for my baptism.

In 1994 our home in Vancouver was broken into and all CDs, thestereo equipment and some of Catherines jewelry had been stolen.  I thought this pitcher had been stolen as well because it was missing.   I told Sabine that I thought it had been stolen, she said that it would turn up.  Some months later I found it when I went to clean out behind the fridge.





In theory there are a couple of other pieces of silver I should have in my possession, a soup tureen, a couple of candlesticks and some more spoons.   I saw them once when I was nine years old and in Sweden.   Long story, they were in the hands of a distant Schulmann cousin and were supposed to come to me.   My father and this cousin had some issues with each other and my father wanted me to assert my right to the silver which made me unconfortable .  When years later I came into contact with this cousin via one of the Finish branch of Schulmanns the message that came back from him almost immediately was that his home had bee broken into the week before the silver had all been stolen.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why the art of Peter von Tiesenhausen matters to me

The Ship
Peter von Tiesenhausen's art has changed the way I see the world by opening my mind to see everything around us as a large every changing spiritual connection between humans and nature.   Peter is not so much an artist as a person who lives within his art as an integral piece of it.

I was first introduced to the start of Peter's art in the early 1970s.   This introduction came at my parents dining room table in Tsawwassen.  My mother was talking with my father about what he should give to his Godson Peter for Christmas and she insisted it should be a set of good quality oil paints.   They ended up buying this for him at the Roof House Gallery in Point Roberts.

I first saw a painting by Peter  around New Year's in the later 1970s.  We were visiting the von Tiesenhausen's at their homestead in Demmitt Alberta.  As a third cousin, Peter's father was my father's closest relative in North America.   Peter showed my father a small landscape which looked like the Peace country in the late summer.   My father smiled, which for him was great praise.

Demmitt Alberta and the whole Peace Country has a lot of similarities to the landscape my father grew up in Estonia.   I never asked my father why we would often visit in the middle of the winter, but we did.  I have to wonder if it was because for my father it was a chance to be back in the world of Schulmann family estate Limmat that he had to leave at age 17 in 1939.  It may have been because the von Tiesenhausen's were creating farm from the wilderness in the 60s and 70s and my father liked to see the change over time.

Peter's early landscape I think spoke very deeply to the place that was the home of my father's soul.

For art to matter it has to have some sense of wonder, it has to make you think, it has to have an emotional connection for you, it has to matter to your soul.   I have seen a lot of well known art.  I learned how to look at an art work and try to connect and understand it.   When I was at university I would often go to Vancouver on Tuesdays because this was the free admission day at the Vancouver Art Gallery.    When I lived in London I went to the Tate Gallery more than any other place I can think of because of the art.  

In an art gallery I try to sit quietly in a room for an hour or more and see what comes of it - almost a Quakerly Meeting for Worship type of process.   I have really tried to understand and seek meaning or purpose in contemporary art but I found little genius.  I rarely seen anything that spoke to my soul.

The galleries are sterile, they are about preserving the art works and celebrating the famous artists.  I would look at a Rothko and could see that over time the painting had changed because of slow decay of the materials involved but that is not what the gallery wants.  Paintings are cleaned, restored and otherwise conserved in a stasis.   I started to pay more attention to the people in the galleries and saw that people came to "collect" the art, they walked through quickly and could then say they saw a Picasso or a Turner.   The name of the dead artist and the fact they had seen the work of art mattered more to them than anything.  They were soulless art spotters.

Over the years I had seen many paintings or sculptures that were beautiful but very few that pushed me to really think and contemplate, very few that touched my soul.   Then one day I saw a sculpture that instantly spoke to me on a thousand levels or more.

In 1996 at the Lillooet Public Library I saw a picture of a sculpture in hay field.   It was of a longboat made of branches from the woods around it.   It was not at a gallery or in front of some corporate headquarters but in the field of a working farm.   It was also weathered, it was clear to me the moment that I saw it had a finite lifespan and that nature would take it back.   This sculpture would never be restored or conserved.  The sculpture came from nature and would go back to nature.   I then saw the name of the sculptor, Peter von Tiesenhausen, and I knew I had walked on this field as a child.

Starting in the 90s Peter's work has been all related to people, the land, nature, decay, transition, and change.  His art is not static, his art is not gallery material.  His art is the best I have seen in connecting the power of nature and the ages with human creation.   With most art, and how we deal with it, it is about humans trying to stop change from happening, Peter's work is the opposite.

His work is not intellectual naval gazing that so many contemporary artists seem to want to do.  Too often when I go into a gallery I see artists trying to "clever" or obscure in a way to exclude those that are not part of the "in crowd"and if you do not "get it" you are not part of the art club.   There is no need to have an advanced degree in art history to see deep meaning and purpose in Peter's work.  His work is not cynical or ironic, there is nothing jaded about it.   It is not meaningless pretty or a clever graphic design.  It is not created to shock for the sake of reaction and nothing else.   His work is transcendent, honest, playful and deeply spiritual.

Peter's work is spiritual on the deepest level possible for art because it embraces that relationship between humans and the natural world at the most fundamental level.   All spirituality comes from the need of every  human society to make sense of the world around us.  Peter's art speaks to the very core of this and how all human creations are ephemeral and are changed over time by the forces of the natural world around us.

Peter with Alex and one his charred figures
Looking at, or more often thinking about, Peter's work becomes a very deeply worshipful process for me.  His art has allowed to me to look out a window and see a tree a pruned years ago as part of the creative interaction between humans and nature.   I can go for a walk and see the remains of an old building being swallowed by blackberries and contemplate the relationship of human creation and how the natural world is taking it back.

Vessel/Enclosure at the Banff Centre
Some of his works of art like Duration in Calgary he has created knowing their lifespan will be for millenia.  Others like Vessel/Enclosure at the Banff Centre are much shorter.    Some of his art is created just by him living his life on his farm.  The fence he has been building for 24 years, where the end he is working on is new and the other end is rotting away, takes a simple task many of us have done and attachs a sense of human history, meditation and inevitability of change to the task.   For Peter being present in the place where he is makes the art.

Quaker's believe there is that of God in everyone and that your whole life is in someway part of your worship.  Peter, while not being a Quaker, has done a brilliant job of showing how art, nature, everyday human activity, time and spirituality can all be part of a meaningful ongoing daily process of worship.

Peter's work matters to me so much because it has liberated me from the sterile world of the art gallery and opened my mind to a concept of art that is directly tied to my soul and the world I live in.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rain Language Part III

The Kamloops Wawa was a Chinook language newspaper published for more than a decade by the Oblate missionaries.  It was written in a short hand specifically designed for Chinook and interior Salishan languages
Here is the third section of Terry Glavin's poem Rain Language.  This is the link to the first section, and this is the link to the second section.

I am posting the poem in chunks,  Terry wrote it in seven pieces.   Since I could not find a copy online I asked Terry if I could post it and he agreed.   The original is in the book "A Voice Great within us: The Story of Chinook" by Charles Lillard and Terry Glavin published by Transmontanus/New Star Books

The "English" sections are not only a translation but an integral part of the whole poem.  I like that the poem shows how the grammar works for Chinook and how it shows the way the language lingers in the little words in this part of the world.

Rain Language
III
Ahnkuttie, yaka mitlite nesika lelang,
     Once, it was our language,
nawitka nesika oakut
     our own way
tanse,
     to dance,
tikegh,
     to want, to love, 
mamook mesachie,
     to curse,
mamook polaklie,
     to darken,
pe mamook skookum light.
     and to make bright.
Alta, yukwa mitlite ketling,
     Now, there is a kettle here,
keekweelie powitsh stick,
     under the crabapple trees,
pil ilta kopa chickamin chako halo ikta.
     rusting to nothing.
Yahwa,
     There,
eneti kullaghan,
     on the other side of the fence,
kokshut leshaloo
     a broken plough
mitlite kow kopa klale ollallie.
     is tangled in the blackberries.
Yaka mitlite kopa kopet tenas coulees kopa nesika illahie,
     It is only the little places of our country,
kopa snass,
     in the rain,
pe ole shantie.
     and in old songs

Konoway sun nika cly,
     Always, I weep,
Siah Illahie nika mitlite alta;
     Far away is my country now;
Konoway sun nika cly.
     Always, I weep.
Siah illahie nika mitlite alta.
     Far away is my country now.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rain Language Part II

Here is the second section of Terry Glavin's poem Rain Language.  This is the link to the first section.

This is about 1/8th of the whole poem, I will be posting it in chunks.  Terry wrote it in seven pieces.   Since I could not find a copy online I asked Terry if I could post it and he agreed.   The original is in the book "A Voice Great within us: The Story of Chinook" by Charles Lillard and Terry Glavin published by Transmontanus/New Star Books

The "English" sections are not only a translation but an integral part of the whole poem

Rain Language
II

Alta nika potlach wawa kopa okoke pepah.
     Now I will talk to you about this picture.
Yaka klatawa kopa stick
     He went into the woods
mamook tzum.
     to write.
Snass chako.
     It was raining.
Yaka mitlite halo tamahnous.
     He had no Guardian Spirit.
Kopa Nemiah, Mabel Solomon mamook le di.
     Up in Nemiah, Mabel Solomon brewed up le di.
Le di.
     Tea.
Huloiam klawhap mitlite kopa illahie, 
      There were strange pits in the ground, 
konoway kah,
     everywhere,
pe olemans pe ole klootchmans mamook wawa
     and the old Chilcotin people called them
keekweelie holes.
     giggly holes.
Okoke wawa, klaska wawa kopa
     It is their word for
keekweelie houses.
     underground houses.
Kopa ole yiem, yahwa mitlite t'kope man
      In old stories, there is a white man
cloosh sakolleks, cloosh pasesse
     in a fine suit of clothes
pa yaka nem mitlite Lejaub.
     and his name is Lejaub.
Lejaub.
     The Devil.
Kopa okoke oakut, lelang mitlite,
     That is the way the language lingers,
yukwa pe yahwa
     here and there.
Halo chako, halo mahsh,
     Not arriving, not leaving, 
kopa tenas wawa.
     in little words.
Wake siah kahkwa kwass leloo,
      Not quite like the fear of wolves,
halo kahkwa snass kopa Bella Colla,
     not like the rain at Bella Colla,
yaka mitlite nawitka kiuatan chako tseepie
     more like the horse that was lost
kopa Snow Mountains,
     in the Snow Mountains,
kiuatan nesika nanitch kopa stick
      the one we would see through the trees
tenas hiyu times
     now and then
kopa tenas lamonti klahanie Tsunia.
     in the hills beyond Tsunia.
Yaka mitlite tenas wawa,
     It is in little words,
pe ole shantie.
     and old songs.

     Tlonas kahta nika tumtum
          I do not know how my heart feels
     Nika nanitch klatawa Godsroad klatawa
          I have seen the steamer Godsroad leaving
     Pe chali mitlite, pe tlakawa nika.
          With Charlie aboard, and I am sad

Friday, March 07, 2014

Rain Language Part I - A Poem by Terry Glavin

I like to read this poem out loud because of the rhythm and sounds of the chinook.

This is about 1/8th of the whole poem, I will be posting it in chunks.  Terry wrote it in seven pieces.   Since I could not find a copy online I asked Terry if I could post it and he agreed.   The original is in the book "A Voice Great within us: The Story of Chinook" by Charles Lillard and Terry Glavin published by Transmontanus/New Star Books

The "English" sections are not only a translation but an integral part of the whole poem

Rain Language 
I

Yaka yiem halo kliminawhit,
     This is a true story
Waum illahie klip sun, kopa Byrne Oakut,
    On a late summer evening on Byrne Road
kimta tenas wahm snass chako,
    after a gentle summer rain, 
Spose hyack colley konmokst chikchik, Ford pe Chevrolet,
    in a race between a Ford and Chevrolet, 
spose Ford tolo kopa tenas-sitkum mile
    if the Ford won the the quarter mile
pe Ford man mamook klahwa,
    and the Ford guy slowed down
kopet cooley, yaka halo mamook fly
     soon enough to avoid going airborne
oakut opoots, 
   at the end of the road,
Ford, yaka skookum chikchik.
    then the Ford was the skookum car.
Nawitka, Ford skookum chichik  
     A right skookum car.

Yaka yiem halo kliminawhit.
     This is a true story.
Spose mika hiyu mamook,
     If you had a job
pe chickamin sun chako
     and it was pay day
pe mike halo mahkook lum kopa tillicums, 
     and you still didn't buy a round, 
mika mitlite cultus bastard.
     you were a cultus bastard.
Nawitka, cultus bastard.
     A right cultus bastard.
Saltchuk, yaka mitlite saltchuk,
     The oceans was the saltchuk,
klootchman kopa mika tillicum
     your buddy's girlfriend
yaka mitlite klootchman,
     was his klootchman,
pe kopa okoke oakut, lelang mitlite
     and this is how the language lingers
yukwa pe yahwa.
     here and there.
Yaka mitlite kopa tenas wawa
     It is in the little words
pe ole shantie.
     and old songs.

Hyas Tlakowa nika
     I am so happy
Spose steamboat klatawa yukwa
     When the steamboat arrives,
Tlonas nika cly
     I think I will weep
Spose steamboat klatawa.
     When the steamboat leaves.


Monday, February 03, 2014

NHL Attendance - Canada is tops in the league

There are currently seven out of 30 NHL teams in Canada but these teams have been consistently selling out all of their games.  In the last eight seasons only one Canadian team has not effectively sold out every game, that being Ottawa.

Season     Van   Calgary Edmon  Toronto Ottawa Montrl Winnipeg
2013/14 100.0 100.0  99.9 103.0  93.7 100.0 100.0
2012/13 100.2 100.0 100.0 103.2 101.3 100.0 100.0
2011/12 102.5 100.0 100.0 103.7 101.1 100.0 100.0
2010/11 100.3 100.0 100.0 102.9  99.3 100.0 
2009/10 102.1 100.0 100.0 102.5  98.8 100.0
2008/09 101.1 100.0 100.0 102.7 105.0 100.0
2007/08 101.1 100.0 100.0 103.4 107.1 100.0
2006/07 101.1 100.0 100.0 103.7 104.7 100.0

        Teams that sold out
Season  Canadian  American
2013/14   5          9
2012/13   7          9
2011/12   7          9
2010/11   5          7
2009/10   5          6
2008/09   6          6
2007/08   6          6
2006/07   6          5

Not a single US team has sold out every one of the last eight seasons but over the same time four Canadian teams have.

         Sold Out Seasons
Team    2006/07 - 2013/14
Calgary        8
Montreal       8
Toronto        8
Vancouver      8
Edmonton       7
Philadelphia   7
Pittsburgh     7
Chicago        6
Minnesota      6
Rangers        6
San Jose       6
Ottawa         5
Boston         4
Detroit        4
Los Angeles    3
Washington     3
Winnipeg       3
Buffalo        2
St Louis       1
Tampa Bay      1

Clearly there is a good case for Canadian teams to have larger arenas to accommodate the crowds.   I think each of the Canadian teams could build new arenas with seating for 23,000 to 25,000.  In the case of Vancouver this would be about 5,000 more people per game, which is 205,000 more regular season tickets sold or about $15,000,000 to $17,000,000 more in annual revenues.   If we include pre-season and playoffs this rises to about $20,000,000 to $25,000,000 per year.   

Winnipeg only has a capacity of 15,004 at their arena.   Building a new one with 23,000 capacity would allow for 8,000 more tickets to be sold per game.   This should be worth an extra $20,000,000 to the team per year.   It would pay for the costs of a new arena in just over a decade on the extra hockey attendance alone.   

If I were Calgary, Edmonton or Winnipeg I would look at building a purpose build outdoor hockey stadium to use for a reasonable number of games each season.   The various outdoor stadium games are less than ideal because the action is too far from the crowd.   It should be possible to build an outdoor hockey rink that could seat more like 30,000 people.  Maybe you could get Saskatoon to build one and have three prairie teams play two games against each other there each season.  

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Number of Athletes at the 2014 Sochi Games

Here are the current registered teams from various countries.  This is all the countries with 10 or more athletes at the games.   25 of the countries are from Europe.

  1. United States 224
  2. Canada 222
  3. Russia 216
  4. Germany 169
  5. Switzerland 168
  6. Japan 137
  7. Norway 134
  8. Austria 123
  9. Sweden 112
  10. Finland 110
  11. Italy 109
  12. France 105
  13. Czech Republic 83
  14. Slovenia 75
  15. South Korea 66
  16. China 66
  17. Slovakia 63
  18. Poland 63
  19. Great Britain 62
  20. Latvia 56
  21. Australia 56
  22. Kazakstan 44
  23. Netherlands 41
  24. Ukraine 41
  25. Belarus 25
  26. Estonia 21
  27. Spain 20
  28. New Zealand 19
  29. Romania 19
  30. Denmark 15
  31. Croatia 14
  32. Hungary 14
  33. Belgium 13
  34. Brazil 10

Friday, December 27, 2013

Construction of the Stanley Park Railway in 1947

As a kid I rode on this train a lot from about 1968 to 1978.   One of the most common outings we did with our grandmother was to go to Stanley Park

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Der 90. Geburtstag oder Dinner for One mit Freddie Frinton und May Warden

How could it be New Year's Eve without Dinner for One? 2013 is the 50 anniversary of the filming of the sketch.

I was introduced to it in 1985 New Year's Eve in Darmstadt

Why is it so big in Germany and the Nordic countries? No freaking idea, but it is. I know people in Germany that speak no English but can recite the sketch word for word.

This is the most repeated TV broadcast of all time

Thursday, December 12, 2013

1983 North East coal takes a giant step forward

This is a government promo video for North East coal made in 1983.  It is amazing how much our attitudes have changed to development.   Something like this would never be produced today.  

1936 Vancouver Golden Jubilee Parade