Notes from Lykkegaard North|
(GPS 48° 52.7' N, 123° 33.7' W)
My wife Ketty and I moved our family (sans daughter Dianne, who prefers the life of the city) from Vancouver Island to a valley near Vesuvius, on Salt Spring in the Gulf Islands, at the end of June 1996.
Slowly, we have settled in, and order has emerged out of chaos.
Were it not for the help so freely given by friends near and dear, and by those from afar, I think that we should have despaired of ever making this house a home.
But the perimeter now is secure, and even the cats are calling this home.
Our dog, Sheba, never doubted it. [A giant Ridgeback, Sheba died suddenly on the morning of November 11th, 1998.
The cats now have reluctantly adopted Gemma, a Yellow Lab who loves all the world, but most of all that part of it which she can put in her mouth.
(Here is a re-sized JPEG of Ketty's screen-saver, a photo she made of Gemma as a pup.)]
Although it was here before us, Ketty has made of our garden an Eden, as surely a work of art as a work of art ever was.
And there is room for books, and relatively dark night skies (4 to 4.5 on the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale). Apart from good health and fast access (i.e., broadband), what else is there? (See Update below.)
August 11th 2014 was the nineteenth anniversary of The Telson Spur.
Once again, I thank all who have offered encouragement and critical advice.
Without the former, this site would not have survived the move to Salt Spring Island; and were it not for the latter, the loss would have been so much the less.
Remote access problems persist but have diminished as the rate of technical progress continues to rise.
Far more aggravating, although less obvious to casual visitors, local "last mile" problems are being addressed and will be eliminated in due course.
(See, for example, Dave Hughes's hub site for wireless technologies, NSF Wireless Field Tests;
the collection of papers edited by Don Richardson & Lynnita Paisley, The First Mile of Connectivity, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, July 1999;
the reports cited by Industry Canada's National Broadband Task Force;
and, looking a little further ahead, ISOC's IPN InterPlanetary Internet Project.)
For the foreseeable future, The Telson Spur will remain berthed at Island Net, from whence it set forth on its first patrol in 1995.
(Contrary to the opinions of incompetents and competitors, Mark Morley and the team at Island Net together comprise the best local ISP -- Internet Service Provider -- available.)
This site is and shall remain a non-commercial site.
And although originally developed as a resource for the Erinaceid (a clandestine group of inquisitive, nosy, and meddlesome hedgehogs -- very often if not quite always harmless, extremely exclusive, highly elusive, and invariably illusive), it is and shall remain open to all.
A lust for life and learning (which are one), and a deep disdain for death and hubris (which are also one), are useful traits for exploring any space, real or virtual.
However, the only (i.e., necessary and sufficient) conditions for finding value here are curiosity and intelligence.
Those whose interests and enthusiasms lie in the world of boardroom newspeak or "business babble" (e.g., bottom line, downsizing, globalisation, privatization),
in the pervasive flummery and invasive effluvia of communal bureaucracy (government or corporate, including commercialism, corporate capitalism, and coprolatry in general),
in cars, cosmetics, fashion, guns, housework, money (other than the personal management thereof),
conservative politics (i.e., the politics of deceit and denial), popular culture (the culture of proselytes and profiteers, including astrology and the "pop theology" of TV evangelists),
serious sex (an oxymoron for all but oxen and morons), social status, spectator sports (other than the manned exploration of space, which is fun and genuinely exciting, and perhaps the greatest spectator sport of all),
toiletry, and other trivia will find much to amuse themselves -- elsewhere.
But if your vision is of a more distant horizon, then stay and wander awhile.
Clear skies, and good hunting!
Update (August 2000)
I swore that this would be our last move. (It was only four years ago, in June 1996, and I was still swearing about it until quite recently.)
However, Ketty has never had the opportunity to build her "dream house", and Gemma loves to swim.
So, we've acquired some waterfront property facing the Chain Islands in Ganges Harbour.
The astronomical orientation is essentially the same there as it is here, near Vesuvius.
We'll be a little closer to Ganges, and the town will be more visible.
However, the lights of Ganges are no more obtrusive there than the more distant but far brighter lights of the mill at Crofton are here, so we'll still have (relatively) dark night skies.
The house won't be much larger, but (except for the guest room) it will all be on one level, with a little more room for books -- and very much more room for garden.
Meanwhile, until it's all over, I think I'll hide.
Update (December 2000)
There are some things from which you are not allowed to hide.
Note (6 February 2001)
There will be a hiatus in changes to these pages while Ketty recovers from open-heart surgery. This was scheduled for February 7th, but has been delayed for twelve days.
Update (6 March 2001)
Like me, Ketty had rheumatic fever as a child, leaving her with a heart murmur.
Unlike me, she was stricken four times. We have known for many years that Ketty had a stenotic mitral valve, and over the past year the valve has deteriorated fairly rapidly.
Ketty was admitted to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria on Monday morning, February 19th, and taken to the CardioVascular Unit shortly thereafter.
The surgery took place that afternoon. It took almost four hours, and at the end of it Ketty had a new mitral valve, a carbon bi-leaflet.
(I was sitting on a bus when the surgeon called me on Ketty's cell.) The breathing tube was removed later that evening and Ketty was moved to a ward (4West) on Wednesday afternoon.
After about an hour, she went into atrial fibrillation, her heart racing and pounding wildly.
Cardioversion (a mild shock with paddles) was administered Thursday morning, but to no avail.
However, after almost sixty hours of discomfort, her heart went into sinus rhythm on its own early Saturday morning, and the external pacemaker was disconnected.
After a weekend of feeling relatively well, Ketty awoke early Monday morning when her heart again slipped into atrial fibrillation.
After another two days of discomfort and uncertainty, cardioversion was again applied shortly before 9 AM Wednesday.
This time, 200 joules were administered and Ketty had been on anti-arhythmic medication for two days.
Her heart responded immediately and began beating normally.
About two hours later, the subducting plate that lies beneath the continental margin here responded to another, different rhythm.
Something happened 50 kilometres beneath Seattle, and there was an earthquake (the Nisqually Earthquake).
Ketty felt it. (She was lying on her bed, wondering why she had begun shaking again when the cardioversion had been so successful.)
I didn't, although I heard some dishes break. (I was in the hospital cafeteria, pouring myself another coffee.)
Sleepless in Victoria, I had failed to notice an earthquake in Seattle. What do the rhythms of the world matter when the rhythm of your own life is constrained by the pulsing of a bit of tissue embedded in the heart of another?
We returned to Salt Spring on Friday, March 2nd. Now the recovery begins. They say that, in the quiet of the night, you can hear the ticking of the mitral valve as the leaflets open and close.
I have not heard it yet. But I can hear the sound of Ketty breathing, and that is enough.
Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
Update (18 March 2001)
On Monday, March 12th, Ketty was admitted to Salt Spring's local hospital (Lady Minto) with pneumonia and congestive heart failure (pulmonary edema).
After a couple of days, she was able to walk a short distance, and on Thursday she was sent home.
We are taking it one day at a time. Tomorrow, perhaps, we will try the stairs.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I enjoyed roller coasters.
20 March 2001
Today Ketty walked down to the bottom of the garden, through the gate, and fetched the morning paper.
She has negotiated the stairs two or three times. And this afternoon, sans cane, she did some work in the garden.
Meanwhile, while we were in Victoria, the ground was excavated at the site of our new house.
(I was unaware of it at the time.) Now the forms for the foundation
are being constructed.
(The house seen in the background is Muldoon, the summer retreat of our Hawaiian
neighours, Tim and Penny Boyne. Their son Jody maintains
a very interesting web page, which touches on some of the issues dealt with
here, albeit along a different tangent.)
Once again, I can think about the future. (Except when she was ill, Ketty never
stopped. She leaves the worrying for me. It is what I do best.)
Enough with the ups and downs. Now I am for the straight and level, for as long as it may last.
1 April 2001
Although still hosted by Island Net,
The Telson Spur is now a virtual domain, rather than merely a subdomain.
In practical terms, this means that the front page can be accessed directly
at snark.org (or, since I have
registered with CIRA, at snark.ca).
And this morning, for the first time in six weeks, Ketty and I walked Gemma together.
8 June 2001
Earlier this week, the subfloor of the new house was completed, and framing has begun.
This afternoon, Ketty and I had a meeting on-site with the designer, Rob Barnard,
and the contractor, Hans Hazenboom, a sort of "viewing" to see how things
are going. They are going well.
Terry Stringer, the foreman, points out a pair of bald eagles perched on a Douglas fir
across the water, on Goat Island. Having been displaced from a tree on our shorefront,
they seem watchful, as if waiting for the noise of construction to end. To the
east, closer at hand, lives a family of blue heron. The nestlings raise a cacophony
of sound, greeting the male as he arrives to feed them. (Or perhaps they are
complaining about the eagles, who may well dine on them before they leave the
nest.) A few minutes later he flies over our heads as Terry and Ken Fetherston, the carpenter,
set up a transit to view the nest. (Here is a JPEG of one of
the herons inspecting the site.)
I got a call yesterday informing me that the mounting for the telescope had been
shipped. And today, the observatory pier arrived from Le Sueur.
Jupiter and Saturn now are lost in the sun's glare. Low on the summer-night ecliptic,
Mars is brilliant and brightening towards opposition next week, rising as the
Sun sets over Orion's head. We will move into the new house when Orion returns,
and Jupiter is stationary in Gemini, with a dimmer Mars higher in the evening
twilight, and all grow pale in the rising light of the Hunter's Moon. Perhaps
that is what we should call our new home: the Orion Spur. (What will be
a window of my study overlooks a lovely little cove, a tiny bay protected by a
spur of ancient volcanic rock. This is a play on words; as some visitors will
know, the Orion Spur is that part of the local galactic arm -- the Orion Arm --
in which the Sun is embedded.) But Ketty doesn't want to give the house a name.
"It's just too twee," she says, using the vernacular of another island.
And I suppose she's right. (She usually is.)
11 September 2001
The world has changed.
Ketty likes to sleep with the radio on, its volume turned low. (CBC AM rebroadcasts short-wave programs from around the world at night.)
She tends to sleep lightly towards morning, dozing rather than sleeping, so she heard the morning stock report interrupted by news of the first attack.
She woke me up (no easy task), and told me the news. A plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
I went back to sleep. She woke me again with news of the second attack, and still I dozed.
Then came the announcement of the South Tower collapsing. I sat bolt upright.
Surely, I thought, that's impossible. (I was thinking of the B-29 that hit the Empire State Building many years ago.)
I got up, went into the TV room, and turned on the BBC in time to see the collapse of the North Tower.
This evening, when we were walking Gemma, a little boy, about ten years old, joined us.
This has never happened before. "Have you seen what's going on TV?," he asked.
Yes, we had. "It's been going on all day, every station. D'you think it's serious?," he asked.
Yes, we think it is serious. "Some people are saying it's war? Do you think it's war? Is it World War III?," he asked.
Perhaps, I reply. I don't know. "Was World War II serious?," he asked.
Yes, it was serious. "Really?" Yes, I reply, it really was. "But it wasn't here was it?"
No, I reply, the fighting was far away. "Well, I think that the men in those planes were drunk," he said.
"No," I said, "Just evil." But he didn't know what evil was. "Bad," offered my wife.
"Well, I think they were drunk," he said; then, after a moment's pause, "But there are no men like that here on Salt Spring, are there?
We're safe. We're lucky." It was only later that I realized why he had joined us.
He was looking for some kind of reassurance, and I didn't have the wherewithal to know it.
17 September 2001
Today is my birthday. There is a new moon. It would be good for observing, but there is high cloud.
Elsewhere, in other homes, it is Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year.
A time for reflecting on one's relationship with and responsibilities to God.
Operation Long Reach has become Operation Infinite Justice.
I am filled with a sense of dread and foreboding. Although not an American, I alternate between feelings of anger and sorrow.
My sense of humour is in remission. Even the dog seems to sense that something is wrong.
I wander into the TV room and turn on the BBC or CBC Newsworld, usually on the hour.
I cannot watch CNN without becoming enraged. This is not "America's New War," no more than were the wars of 1914 and 1939.
If this is indeed a war, it is at the very least a war against NATO and the West,
and I think that one could easily make the case that it is a war against civil society.
But it is not their enemy who is in doubt. It is our enemy who seems, in the heat of the moment, ill-defined.
There is talk of a war against terrorism, "the new enemy." (I pray that this doesn't degenerate into a war against Islam.
I am sure that the men behind these deeds had just that in mind.) But I suspect
that the enemy isn't really very new at all. He (or it) is an old enemy,
older by far than any religious tradition, as old or older, perhaps, than Man.
I find neither comfort nor reassurance in the endless stream of images and sound bites, scenes of horror ceaselessly re-enacted and interspersed with talking heads.
I know that solace will come only with time, and for some it will never come.
It is for them that we must pause, and reflect, and think before acting.
21 September 2001
Fall is at hand, and something wicked this way comes. There have been reports of right-wing hoodlums attacking Muslims, and even Sikhs.
The worms are crawling out of the woodwork.
Last night I watched President Bush address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress and Senate.
I thought that the speech, written by Condoleeza Rice and a few others (no, not Toby and Sam), was excellent.
I carry no brief for this man, or for the powers that placed him where he is.
But whatever the shortcomings of the orator (and I am sure that he does his best with what he has),
this was a pleasant change from the extemporaneous mumbling and sabre-rattling of the past week.
This may not be The West Wing, but I thank God that this man has the support of a competent staff.
We are at war. But with whom?
I believe (with others) that religion emerged with man's dawning consciousness of time.
It began as a response to his awareness of Death and of the limits to his own personal being.
I do not believe that God evolves. But man does, and so does his relationship with God.
This development has given us many rich cultural traditions and we call these "religions,"
as if they could be separated from the context of their origins and treated as objects of study.
Whatever their differences, all address the insecurity we feel when faced with the brute fact of temporal passage.
And whatever their specific origins, all at some point encounter challenges, from within or without, that are seen to endanger the tradition.
For many or even most, the responses are healthy, and the tradition continues to grow.
But sooner or later, in all traditions, something dysfunctional is spawned that quickly ossifies into a cruel caricature of their original intent,
however ennobling that may have been. It is as if the hopes and aspirations of men and women lose the freshness of their first growth
and become corrupt, turning first inward, away from the world, then spreading outward like a cancer,
endangering and even destroying the lives of others, and finally the souls of those who would follow.
This is fundamentalism. It is the face of the enemy, both within and without.
Of course, fundamentalism by itself needn't connote violence. But it invariably indicates a closing of the mind and heart,
a shutting out of the world to preserve the form of something lost. It is this perception
of something lost (or taken) that may be manipulated and will ultimately lead to hatred and violence.
Militant Muslims, like "Christian" fundamentalists, see themselves as fighting the powers of darkness
(personified for many, no doubt, by such icons of Western dominance as the World Trade Center and the Pentagon).
But if I were to look for evil, other than in my own heart, I would not seek it in such symbols.
Nor would I look for it in the streets and alleys of urban slums, or in "dens of iniquity," or even in the boardrooms of multinational corporations.
These are places where the fight against dark powers has been fought and lost and where the fallen still are struggling in the wake of battle.
But evil made real is found, I think, in a form darker still and yet more inchoate within the precincts of temple, church, and mosque.
There the bond between man and God that is true religion (religio) may be warped, twisted, and ultimately severed,
as in the murderous rants of militant mullahs who are no more Islamic than the raving reverend
-- who sees September 11 as the vengeance of his god -- is Christian.
Malignant "mullah" or foul-mouthed "reverend, " their god is one and the same.
We have seen him before. He has been with us from the beginning, and he will be with us at the end.
He is the enemy within, and the enemy without. He lurks in every mortal heart, and creeps forth in every impulse to hurt.
He is the Lord of the Flies, the Father of Lies, the Enemy of Man, a deformed creature aping God
even as the perverted ideologies of his followers ape faith. This is darkness made visible,
the "rough beast" of Yeats slouching toward Bethlehem. God is on our side!,
his followers scream. And God is with us!, we shout, falling into the Devil's snare.
Meanwhile, the God Who Cares suffers as the blood of innocents is poured forth in His name.
30 October 2001
Our new house won't be ready for occupation for several weeks, perhaps not until
early next year. However, we have sold the house we are living in, and tomorrow is moving day.
Yesterday, I saw the last of my books go into indefinite storage, and I wonder when I will see them again.
They'll be in storage in a workshop next door to the summer cottage that we're leasing for the duration, so I might have limited access.
The cottage itself has no room for my books, or for Ketty's. However, like the new house (which is only two doors away),
we will be in line-of-sight with our access provider. Even at 128k, the always-on wireless access will be a vast improvement over dial-up.
(Except for large downloads -- PDFs and programs -- satellite access has proved a disappointment.)
Updating this web site will be problematic for some time to come.
The Galloway Cottage, 1 November 2001
It's Thursday and we're in the summer cottage, all 800 square feet of it -- Ketty and I, Gemma, and the five cats.
(The cats at least are relatively quiet. Even Thug, ever at war with the others, seems to have declared a truce.)
I expect that we'll all have cabin fever by Tuesday.
We put Ketty's PC into storage, and I connected mine this morning. Our connection to The Net is limited to dial-up.
The local access provider was supposed to install a 128k wireless connection yesterday, but this has been delayed until tomorrow.
(We don't have a real service provider here on Salt Spring, although a couple of the more competitive ISPs do have POPs, or points-of-presence, in Ganges.)
Last night Gemma wanted out, and I went out with her. It was a few hours before dawn, and the sky had cleared.
A Hunter's Moon stood over Orion's shoulder, bathing the cottage and shore and the surrounding hills in silver.
There was no breeze and the water that lies between us and the Chain Islands was a mirror reflecting the moon and stars.
We had grown used to the sound of the mill at Crofton, but here it is quiet.
The still water suddenly shimmered and we were both startled when a dark shape broke the surface, splashing and making a sound like air being released under pressure.
A whale, perhaps, but I can't be sure. Living with a sea on one's doorstep will be a long learning experience.
4 November 2001
Installation of wireless access was further delayed from Friday to Saturday, which was yesterday.
But, still no show. I'm beginning to question the wisdom of dropping our satellite access and the third phone-line that at least allowed us to use multilink to boost the speed of dial-up access.
Today should have marked the beginning of our first week in the new house. Ketty and I strolled over to the site this afternoon.
It rained quite heavily last night, so there is a puddle extending from the living room into the bedroom, which is still being framed.
The roofers want the framing to be complete before they begin their job.
Having spent more than two decades in weather services, I know what it is to live by the clock.
Retiring from that false regimen was a liberating experience. Folks here are known for their abhorrence of structured time, especially as it pertains to the future.
Deadlines and schedules are regarded as the silly contrivance of a less evolved culture.
"Tomorrow" means "Not today," and all specifications of epoch and interval are prefaced by an unstated "Maybe."
I gladly stopped wearing a watch when we moved here, and use a calendar mainly for the pretty pictures and to note astronomical events, such as the phases of the moon.
Now I am beginning to experience the downside of so-called "island time."
But tomorrow is another day. I'll have my wireless access installed, and soon the roofers can begin. Maybe.
8 November 2001
Chad Williams from Imagen came out yesterday and finished installing wireless access by late afternoon.
As he and others had predicted, it was well worth the wait.
Even at 128k, access is much faster than anything I have ever experienced using DirecPC.
But it is the permanent connection that makes this a whole new ride. With no need to log on and off, the 'Net suddenly becomes much more user-friendly.
17 November 2001
It was not a repeat of 1833, the "night of raining fire," but the Leonids put on a splendid display last night.
Since it became apparent on Wednesday that the south coast would be under a fairly strong ridge of high pressure, I began looking forward to a good showing.
I was not disappointed. When I crept outside at 1:30 AM, skies were clear and the young moon had long since set.
I laid myself down on the picnic table in front of the cottage and began my vigil to the accompaniment of geese honking nearby.
High on the winter ecliptic, blue-white and brilliant in Gemini, Jupiter ruled the sky above Betelgeuse.
Above Orion's other shoulder, golden Saturn was brighter than Aldebaran nearby.
But it was the Leonids that stole the show. I saw three or four hundred in the space of an hour.
Most were bright, with trails that sometimes lingered long after their passage.
Many were as bright as Jupiter, and a few brighter even than Venus.
There were often two or more together, and once I saw six, with four streaking in parallel.
It was a good night (although I do miss my telescope, which is in storage).
Friday was the birthday of Hans Hazenboom, our contractor. So, late in the afternoon, Ketty and I strolled over to the site and had a few beer with the crew working on our house.
(I guess this was our first beerfest in the new house! Well, it won't be the last.)
Most are long-term residents of Salt Spring, and it was interesting hearing some of the stories about our area.
There are many ancient apple trees in this neighbourhood, about a dozen on our property.
These are survivors of a time when this area was a major fruit-producing centre, before the opening of the Okanagan Valley to that industry.
In those days, the local district was called Fruitvale, and this is the name of the road behind our house.
I never liked this name, but am more than content with it now, knowing that it is one of the few remaining relics of a former time.
21 December 2001
This month began, like the year, on something of a sour note when Ketty began experiencing tachycardia and atrial fibrillation.
After a week on drugs, the tachycardia was slowed but the fribrillation remained. So Ketty went in to the hospital for cardioversion.
This shocked her heart back into sinus (normal rhythm) and she is now back to outpacing me on our daily rambles with Gemma.
On the morning of the cardioversion, before going in to the hospital, Ketty had a meeting with the contractor, Hans Hazenboom.
And after the procedure, she had a meeting with the designer, Rob Barnard. She is unstoppable.
Today, the winter solstice, is the last Friday before Christmas, so Ketty and I decided to have a Christmas party for the workmen at the new site.
I cannot imagine having a better team building our house. Most of these men have more than thirty years of experience, most of that here on Salt Spring.
Such few mistakes as have been made were due mainly to errors in communication, and these for the most part involving minor details.
(Fortunately, Ketty has an eagle eye for detail.)
When caught early enough in the transfer from plan to structure, such errors are easily dealt with.
As Ken Fetherston, the carpenter, pointed out, today was also "Roof Day" for the house.
Bill Clark fitted the last beam, and the last piece of decking for the ceiling was nailed in place.
(Here is a JPEG of Bill at work at an earlier stage of construction.)
The roofers arrived in the afternoon with a roll of metal cladding and a machine for cutting and crimping the roof panels.
(The choice of a metal roof is a "no-brainer" here, for water is our limiting resource, and we want to collect as much as we can for Ketty's garden.)
Here is a picture of Hans, the builder, and Glen Bissett, the roofer, walking towards the house.
For the world as a whole, this has not been a happy year, and for some it has been as sad a year as has ever been.
But for us, as for others, it ends on a note of Thanksgiving.
25 January 2002
Construction of the house is proceeding apace. The level of activity appeared
to pick up once all the trades became involved. (Here is a JPEG taken by Ketty
as the utility trench was being dug, showing the house from
the east.) Roof and drywall are almost finished, and it will soon be time
for Sonja Franz, the painter. The house now has water and power, and the heat
is on. (Electricity and plumbing will take longer, of course, because of the
finished fixtures.) Rae-Ann Huth will begin the main floor (tiles) early next
month, but the floor of the study (bamboo) will have to wait about a month
And today Terry and Lorne Bascom poured the footings for the observatory, which Ketty
insists I call an "astroshed" so as to convince it (and me) that it
is part of her garden, and in no way a thing apart. (The garden, meanwhile, is
mainly mud and clay, and looks like a scene out of Mordor.) Here is a re-sized
JPEG, taken this afternoon by Ketty (who, as family photographer,
is documenting the project): Terry and Lorne are to the right, Gemma and I in
the centre background. (Here is a size-reduced JPEG of Gemma
as a pup. And here is a current picture showing a very haughty Gemma avoiding the mud;
the green structure to her left belongs to Muldoon, the Boynes' retreat next door,
and is not a doghouse, which is perhaps as fortunate for me as it is for Gemma.)
27 January 2002
Here is a picture of my wife Ketty Lykkegaard and her house, Stjernegaard, seen from the
northeast, taken by our daughter Dianne this afternoon. And here is
a winter's view toward Ganges village, taken from the front of the house.
(Of course, snow is forbidden here on Salt Spring, except on the highest peaks. The white substance
seen in these JPEGs is in fact lumpy cloud, cumulus solidus, congealed
and fallen to earth due to the island's attraction for all things celestial;
a similar phenomenon occurred in early January 2005,
much to Gemma's consternation.)
7 February 2002
The skylights arrived today. And here is a fine picture of Ken Fetherston,
applying a trowel to the newly-laid slab for the
The base for the telescope pier is visible in the centre of the slab. Base and
slab are insulated from one another by a layer of foam which can be removed and
later replaced by a special caulking compound which absorbs vibrations, or by
a non-adhering rubber ring which will leave the base isolated from the slab (the point
being to prevent vibrations from the slab being transmitted to the pier). The
completed structure will be about the same size as the pumphouse, seen here in
the background. (The enclosure in the middle distance, between pumphouse and
observatory, is being used by Ketty as a deer-proof refuge for her plants; it
is, in fact, a pen for young dragons.) The observatory's roll-top roof will
also be a hip roof, with dark green metal cladding.
Here is a recent picture that Ketty took of George Horel and his Bobcat,
with Muldoon (our Hawaiian neighbours' summer retreat) in the background. George has
been mucking about the site from the beginning, off and on. (We have a great deal of muck
just now. If mud truly is glorious, then Ketty's new garden has begun in a state
of resplendent magnificence.) Excavating apart, George, like me, is not wholly
content with being earthbound: he too is a stargazer.
22 February 2002
I am planning to use the dead corner of the kitchen cabinets as a "time capsule."
Hopefully the kitchen is not going to be remodelled for 30 or 40 years or more.
I would like to provide a little bit of history for the people (workers and owners)
of the future to look at when remodelling does happen. (Always assuming they're
not just going to use a sledgehammer approach!)
I am going to put in some of the house blueprints, and the photos I've taken of
people working on the site. And also probably a little write-up about the construction
of the house.
I would like everyone to put in an envelope with pictures and information about
themselves and their families -- who you are, how long you've been on Salt Spring,
where you live, spouses and kids, etc. -- anything you would find interesting
if you were to discover something yourself during the course of a remodelling.
You can seal the envelope before putting it in the opening to the corner.
I think we have a short while available to do this.
1 March 2002
This web site, The Telson Spur, has been selected by the SETI League
to receive the SETI SuperStar Award for March 2002.
Effective 2 March 2002 (at 0000 UTC, 4 o'clock this afternoon local time), it will be featured on The SETI League home page.
I have therefore added the SETI League logo to my awards section, below.
Construction of the AstroShed has been suspended while every effort is being made
to get the new house habitable by the end of the month or the beginning of April.
(Alas, my priorities in this regard are not shared by "She Who Must Be Obeyed."
As if it should matter more to a man whether his wife has a kitchen than that
he should have a secure mount for his instrument.)
Every day now, there are changes in the appearance of the house, clearly apparent
even to me if they are but clearly pointed out. I feel a little frustrated, not
only because work on the AstroShed has been frivolously delayed, but because my
plans for offering a place for the suitably rendered remains of the provincial
Legislative Assembly in Ketty's time capsule (thus ensuring their preservation
for posterity in a form commensurate with their value in our own time) have been
overruled, due to there being insufficient space available. (Also, Ketty assures
me that some members of the provincial legislature might be missed before posterity
had a chance to claim them. I cannot imagine why.)
13 March 2002, T - 40
The front door came today. Rae-Ann Huth is laying the tiles for the main floor.
And the carpenters are proceeeding with the window trim and the shingling.
(Here are pictures of the finishing carpenters, Joseph de Lange and, with Gemma, Paul Ramer.
[Paul died on the morning of February 6th, 2006.])
Ketty's heart, meanwhile, is in and out of atrial fibrillation. This is disconcerting,
but not to the extent that it was a year ago. Going in to the hospital for
cardioversion has become almost routine, and Ketty is no longer experiencing any
serious side effects from the antiarrhythmic agent, Rhythmol, which she is taking
in ever-increasing dosages.
I cannot understand the current obsession with so-called "reality" TV.
Don't people get enough reality in their day-to-day existence? When I watch TV,
it is to get away from reality for an hour or so. I like to watch The West Wing.
I reckon that that is about as far from reality as I can comfortably get.
We have a date for moving into the new house, April 22nd, Earth Day, the peak of the Lyrids.
4 April 2002, T - 18
The interior doors came today, and some of the appliances. Rae-Ann has finished
tiling the main floor and has begun laying slate on the hearth. (We are having
a pellet stove instead of a fireplace and chimney.) KB Cabinets of Chemainus are
putting finishing touches on the cabinetry. Bamboo flooring for the library/study
and guest room arrives tomorrow. (The guest room, directly above the library,
has a commanding view of the harbour and will double as Ketty's study.) Stonemason Tim Curtis
has completed the first phase of the planter wall and retaining wall. (These will
receive a temporary cement plaster or stucco facing until we are ready to add sandstone.)
Spring arrived this year with a reminder of winter. March 20th dawned with
anywhere from ten to thirty centimetres of snow, depending on whether one was
on the shore or in the hills. However, Spring has now arrived and everywhere
the buds are burgeoning. The plum trees (but not the prune plums) are in blossom
and there are daffodils and grape hyacinths flowering everywhere. (The prune
plums will follow along with the apple trees in May.)
The past few days have been sunny, with clear nights. On Tuesday evening, I was
able to find Comet Ikeya-Zhang low in the west after sunset, on a line from Venus
to Cassiopeia, its tail pointed northward as it moves outward from the sun. (I
was using image-stabilised binoculars, 15X.) Tonight it approaches to within a
degree or so of M31, the Great Galaxy in Andromeda, before moving into the morning
sky, but there are clouds gathering in the west.
(See NASA SpaceWeather's Comet Ikeya-Zhang Photo Gallery.)
"...Clouds gathering in the west." The news is filled with reports on
the war against terrorism. A question insinuates itself: How does one fight with
honour when one's closest ally behaves like a bully and a coward? (Of course,
Canadians are not the only ones to whom this question might occur.)
We are on target for moving on the 22nd. I hope the dust settles soon.
18 April 2002, T - 4
Four Canadian soldiers have been killed in Aghanistan, the first such casualties
in half a century. But they were not killed by "The Enemy." They were
killed by 'friendly fire,' courtesy of our allies, the Americans. (One is reminded
of the Vietnam-era quote from Walt Kelly's Pogo: "We have seen the
enemy, and the enemy is US.") With allies such as these, the presence
of an enemy is almost redundant. [See Canada's Casualties (CBC)
and the Tarnak Farm Board of Inquiry (DND).]
Wiser men than I have observed that the true enemy lies within.
With their absurd foreign policies and abysmal lack of foresight,
the Americans elevate this to a truism. If there is an "evil empire"
in the world today, we need look no further. Would that the corporate stupidity
that prevails in our neighbour were not so slavishly mirrored in our own land.
In a happier vein, we are having a party tomorrow for all those involved in
the construction of our new house. A copy of this log to date will go in Ketty's
Perhaps, when the time capsule is opened, a few moments hence, the world will
be a slightly better place than it is now. I do not hope for more. But I should
like to think that liberal democracies and the principles of civil society will
be better established across the face of the planet, and that all men and women
shall have a say in their destinies. I do not think that this is too much to
hope for: a world in which we can all do more than merely survive. That is my
dream. And I wonder what the view will be from a distant star.
Stjernegaard, 22 April 2002
Home, at last.
26 August 2003
Notes on the AstroShed:
Originally intended as a brief note on the provenance of The Telson Spur,
this chronology grew to include an account of our move to Salt Spring Island, my wife
Ketty's subsequent illness, the building of our new home, and a few rants. I
have neglected this log since we moved into the new house last year. (A printed copy was
consigned to a time capsule in the kitchen, along with contributions from those
who worked on the house. Following this rite of passage, I no longer felt inclined
to update the account.) However, in response to a number of inquiries from those
visiting this site, and since it is in no small part responsible for occupying
my time over the past year, I have decided to add a few notes on the AstroShed.
For the past year, Ketty has been happily planning and working on her garden, and it is
gradually taking shape. (The landscaping, however, will take another year or so.)
I, meanwhile, have been playing with my toy, the 'AstroShed' (so-called to
emphasize the compatability of its design with Ketty's garden): a roll-top
observatory to house my telescope -- a small, short-focus refractor intended
strictly for casual stargazing, and not for serious observing or astrophotography.
The 10'x10' structure was completed last summer, but finishing touches have
only recently been added. Following are links to a few resized JPEGs of photographs
taken by Ketty, along with links to the principal manufacturers of the equipment
involved. (For a list of other amateur astronomical observatories, mostly American,
see Bill Arnett's site, Ptolemy's Café.
Bill's roll-top, included in his listing, appears also to have been designed with
a concern for "compatability," and indeed served as the inspiration
for the AstroShed.)
The first photo, taken on the 25th of January last year, shows
the footings being poured. The second was taken about two weeks later following
the laying of the concrete slab which serves as the
floor of the observatory. The base for the telescope pier is visible in the centre
of the slab. As mentioned above, the base is isolated from the floor. (The structures
in the background are a plant cage and, behind it, the utility shed, still under
construction at that point.)
Last Friday, Ketty took a picture of
the completed AstroShed, with door and roof closed. The structure is oriented
north-south. Views from the southeast and
southwest show the observatory with the
roof rolled back to the north. Although the horizon to the west is obscured by
trees (which serve to screen out the lights of Ganges), the view to the south
How to open and close the roof was something of an issue, since it is quite heavy.
Hans Hazenboom, who built our house and
the AstroShed, came up with an elegant solution that avoided the problems (and
expense) of an automated system. The roof rests on ten nylon wheels that roll
along inverted-V rails. It can be moved easily with a simple
crank and pulley, using a long bicycle chain. Since the structure is sufficiently
rigid to withstand the torque, this is mounted on the west side of the building.
The telescope is a Tele Vue
TV-101, shown here pointed northward in its
parked position, with counterweight shaft down. Because of the height constraint,
it is necessary to raise the telescope in elevation for observing and to lower
it before closing the roof. (This may seem unusual for a short-focus instrument,
but will be familiar to those with similarly housed long-focus refractors.)
The mount is a Losmandy
G-8 German equatorial, equipped with Losmandy's Gemini astronomical positioning
Telescope and mount are supported on a Le Sueur
Astro Pier, shown here in a view through
the door. My faithful assistant, Gemma, is resting on a concrete slab in
front. At night, when Gemma is otherwise engaged, the slab can serve as a platform
for a tripod-mounted pair of Fujinon 16x70 binoculars.
For further information, please contact Hans Hazenboom (email@example.com).
4 November 2007
My beloved wife Ketty died suddenly on November 2nd. Her spirit remains in her garden and in this house.
23 April 2012
Gemma, who came to us in 1998, died peacefully today, after we had said our last goodbyes.
She would have been fourteen in October.
17 May 2013
A year ago today, the cats and I adopted Huxley. He came with a history of abuse, but with the heart of a lion, and a name to match.
I like to think that he was named for Thomas Henry Huxley, "Darwin's bulldog."
A rescue dog from the Victoria SPCA, he was very shy and skittish, but after a year of gentle care in a good home, he has gained confidence.
The photo was taken last June, when his tail still hung low. Today it is a lush plume which he holds high,
waving gently back and forth, much to the delight of the cats. His love of cats was the one feature
in his description that caught my attention. In my experience, it has usually taken about three
months for cats to accept a new dog. Huxley managed it in three weeks. Alas, strange cats are included in his field of affection.
He seems especially fond of a certain ginger tom who visits now and then, filching food. I have taken to calling him Ginger Goodwin.
Our home necessarily lacks the warmth of a woman's touch, but Ketty's spirit (and Gemma's) remains, and we are a generally happy lot.
And now the old dog has a new Companion.
23 June 2013
On Father's Day, a week ago today, a friend's daughter brought her dad over from Victoria to see Ketty's garden.
The Kiftsgate roses had begun to bloom, and since they are what Ketty used to call her "Sentinels," I told them the story of Ketty's Sentinels.
He suggested that I add this to this rarely updated page, and since I had recently sent a brief note to our own daughter Dianne, I agreed to do this.
(Now, many of the roses in Ketty's garden have stories, but most of them died with her. This one, however, I remember now because we were together.)
The Kiftsgate is a lovely white rose, a climber. This year, the first blooms appeared on the morning of the 13th,
and there is now a galaxy of splendour with the one plant reaching more than thirty feet into the arms of a fir.
Last night, when I took Huxley out before going to bed, the sky had cleared. Obscured only
by wisps of cirrus running before an approaching front, a full moon shone down on the garden.
The white rose was a tower of silver and deep blue rising from the shadows beneath.
This first Kiftsgate was planted by Ketty in 2002 as a symbol of the permanence of our love and of its expression in our final home.
But the story of the sentinels goes back to the summer of 1976, when Ketty and I attended a
congress of the World Nature Federation at the University of Victoria. While there we met a lovely young
German woman from Munich. In the course of many conversations, she told us the story of the White Rose, "die Weise Rose."
It is a story of young love that took place, once upon a time, in a land and a time when darkness had descended on the face of the earth.
A young German girl, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and their friend Christian Probst, formed the nucleus of what came to be known as "die Weise Rose,"
the beginning of a student resistance against the Nazis and all they stood for.
They were executed early in 1942, and active resistance died with them. Neither Ketty nor I had ever heard this story before, and we were deeply impressed.
Planting it against a fence in the secluded east garden, Ketty intended her white rose to grow, and using adjacent trees as armatures, climb high to overlook our home.
It would be a symbol of the spirit of defiance that protects us all from the evil that would do us harm.
A year or so later, Ketty came in to the study one day to announce that she had found a place
to plant a second "sentinel." This was on the western periphery, under an apple tree, into whose branches it would grow.
Ketty's hope was that it would reach into the branches of an adjacent fir there, and her garden would have two sentinels.
She did not live to see it, but year after year her white roses have grown, the 2002 plant reaching higher and higher until now it is at the top of its fir.
(After Ketty died, I somehow forgot all about the white rose. Then, one day in late June a few years ago, while
in the bathroom, I looked up at the skylight to check the sky condition. And there, up above me, a cluster of shining white roses hung down, as if from the sky.
I had been feeling depressed, and the sight of the rose was like a clarion call from Ketty, reassuring me in my moment of sadness.)
The second plant has filled the apple tree, but has not yet moved to the adjacent fir.
Nothing gives me more joy than to show Ketty's garden to others, and this is especially so of her sentinels.
(It is sad that the garden reaches its peak in June, a time when few come by to visit.)
At her own request, her ashes nurture the garden between her sentinels,
and they give signature to the nurture which she gave to this little family.
And when the time comes, not far off now, my ashes will mingle with hers. I can only hope that
this garden, Ketty's garden, will remain to give such joy to others as it has given to Ketty and to me.
Not long after the war, there was a school founded in Munich named for Sophie. There is another
in Hannover, and I am told many others, schools and institutes and squares and so forth. There is even one in Oregon.
She was only 21 when they beheaded her. Sophie and her fellow patriots died in ignominy, but
their names and spirit live on in the hearts of good men and women everywhere and at all times.
20 Sep 2013
This morning I noticed that the older of Ketty's Kiftsgate roses had been severely damaged
by sawing through the main stem and some of the feeders below the fence top. A friend of
Ketty's, an arborist, has examined the damage and thinks that, in time, it may
recover. The younger of the two white roses, in a more secure location, was not attacked.
11 June 2014
The first blooms of the year have appeared on Ketty's Kiftsgate roses -- both of them!
18 December 2014
Friends of Ketty and her garden will be somewhat saddened to learn that I have had to sell our home.
And as my friends know (all too well) this has been some time in coming. But as we approach the
dark of the year, I want to leave all feelings of anger and resentment over the malice of
others behind me. For me, there is not time enough remaining to spend it fretting over abandoned
expectations. When Ketty died seven years ago this November, I was distraught. Foolishly, without
competent advice, I gave power of attorney to someone who immediately took out a mortgage on our
home and subsequently bought the mortagage, all with my naive trust. After a few years, they then
threatened to foreclose. Lest this all seem to provoke a sense of outrage, those with a
simpler sense of reality will know that it is silly to dangle gold in front of a dragon and
expect the worm to behave with the forbearance of a vertebrate. I lost my home, not through
the evil intent of others, but through my own misplaced trust and my own gullibility.
At each step of this protracted process I was asked for -- and gave -- my sanction,
the sanction of the victim. If there is shame in this, it is mine. It is the shame of a would-be
scholar who, after a lifetime love of learning, of pursuing and acquiring the cumulative results of
clear thinking and critical inquiry, has yet so easily surrendered to the self-serving deceits of a
sliveen's ideology. I can only hope that my wife will forgive me when this fallen time has run its
course and we are together again, whether in dream or dust.
The people to whom I have sold our home are good people, not the kind of ignorant, mediocre,
right-wing extremists that I had been led to anticipate. Glen is a physicist, soon to retire, with
a lifelong interest in astronomy, so I am delighted to turn my beloved observatory over to someone
who knows that there is a world out there and knows something of exploring it. Glen's wife Penny is
a pediatric physiotherapist. And an avid gardener. I think that Ketty would approve.