Shortly after I came out to British Columbia in early 2006 I had a case of severely high blood pressure. It wouldn't have been fair to an employer for me to work for them until I got my health situation sorted out. I was on medications to lower the blood pressure and it took until early 2007 to find the cause. I finally went to a naturopath who found that a microscopic parasite was the cause for all this.

While getting my health in order, I took up blogging to share my photography. This way I wasn't wasting time and others got to enjoy the photos, not just me and those close to me.

In May of this year I had a mini-stroke cause again by severely high blood pressure. I may end up gong to the naturopath again since the specialist and other MDs can't seem to find the cause. This has only been a problem out here. Before that in Ontario, the blood pressure was only marginally high, not severely high like in BC.

Knowledge is good because being forewarned is forearmed!

All that said, enjoy this blog and all the photos I share with you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

alpine flowers and other stuff

I started a vegetable garden in the spring of 1969 some months away from my 16th birthday. I was mostly vegetables of various sorts but also some flowers which I started from a few packet of mixed alpine flower seeds that I had ordered from a seedhouse in Ontario, where I lived at the time. This series of photos documents my first attempts at gardening.
Above is a view of the garden from the back looking toward the house. I also tried growing grapevines as well as red current bushes. The red current bushes grew very big before I decided that where they were at the back of the vegetable garden was not the place where I wanted them. I started new bushes from cuttings and planted those cuttings next to the cedar hedge on the west side of the property. The original currant bushes were discarded. They were taking up too much space. The image below shows the corner that ended up containing the alpine flowers, etc.
Above is a look at the scene from the patio near the house. The photo below was taken from one of the upper windows of the house.
The bell flowers (Campanula latifolia) start to send up flower stalks (above). Below is an example of my attempt at growing grapes. When I moved the alpines to a flower bed in the front yard near the porch, I used the stones you see here as an edging in the new planting to give the bed some height on two of the three sides (the new planting was triangular).
Onions, carrots and kohlrabi were vegetables that I grew amongst others such as green beans. I also included herbs such as parsley as well. - V

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eagle Mountain - September 4th

Well, I've edited most of the photos taken on the September 4th hike up Eagle Mountain, the one on the Labour Day weekend. The top one is of some wild geranium flowers found in bloom along the Coquitlam Crunch Trail. There is a photo of wild asters as well. The mountain is Mt Baker across the border in Washington (state). The last photo has some huckleberry bushes in it. I was eating the berries as we went along. They are related to the blueberry. I'll let the images speak for themselves. Enjoy! - V

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


In the 1970s I started growing various kinds of alpines and other flowers suitable for a rock garden or along a flower border. Veronica (V. longifolia) was but one of them. Campanula latifolia was another. This is a series of photos (all Veronica) taken in 1977 (London, Ontario) in the back garden. I later moved the alpines to another flower bed in the front yard. I had ordered a few seed packets from a seed house that contained mixed alpines and veronica was one of those included in the mixture. There were still some of these flowers growing in the garden when I sold the house in 2005. As you can see, the bees loved them! - V

grey squirrels

Let's take a small diversion from the photos taken in Europe to have a look at the antics of a grey squirrel back in late summer of 1977, in London in southwestern Ontario. The photos were taken in our backyard. Squirrels, rabbits and many birds frequented the yard. I'll let the series of photos speak! - V

Bad Herrenalb - Ettlingen

Back in 1972 I used Ettlingen in southwest Germany as a base to go to Austria, Switzerland and France. The image above shows Bad Herrenalb south of Ettlingen. This is at the northern end of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald).
There are some old buildings of note in the town but a higher elevation gives us an even better vantage point. Ettlingen has a streetcar service that takes you into the city of Karlsruhe. City life has its points of interest but I love nature and the mountains the best of all. - V

Monday, September 5, 2011

Carcassonne, France 1972

After my visit to Switzerland in 1972, my next destination on my itinerary was France. I ended up leaving southwestern Germany where I was staying with my half-sister, took a train through Alsace on the way to southern France. This route took me down the Rhone River valley and on to Arles before heading west to Narbonne on the Mediteranean coast. From there I caught a train heading inland to the city of Carcassonne which was my first destination. The old fortified city dates from the time of the Visigoths, a Germanic tribe originating from the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea that settled this area and on south into Spain. The Visigoths left their homeland during the movement of various tribes into what was left of the Roman Empire. The walls were restored in the mid-19th Century. There was a television program that I watched in the early 1960s about a war between the English and the French (Black Prince). Carcassonne was the setting for this program. I was intrigued enough to want to see the place firsthand. Google to find out more!
Here's a view of the typical countryside in southwestern France. It was overcast weather but warm, not ideal weather for taking photos but I did my best.
Here's a view of the castle which I ended up taking a tour through and a view of the River Aude with the old city of Carcassonne in the background.
And what would France be without vineyards!
After my stop in Carcassonne it was off to Paris and then Strasbourg, Alsace in eastern France. I took no photos in Paris (it was pouring rain when I arrived at my hotel on the Rue de Gramont) but I did take a walk the next day in the old streets of Paris before heading off to Strasbourg where I did take quite a few interesting photos. The weather in Paris was starting to get better as I left. Its known for its rainy weather because of its proximity to the English Channel and the weather systems coming off the Atlantic Ocean. You'll see the photos of Strasbourg next. Meantime, enjoy these!! - V

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lauterbrunnental, Switzerland - summer 1972

During my 1972 summer trip to Europe, Switzerland was another destination. In this case it was the Lauterbrunnental (Lauterbrunnen valley) in the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland. The photos I took show you what the area looked like at that time. Since then, I've heard that the glaciers are receding due to the changes in the global weather patterns. I stayed with a farm family above the village of Lauterbrunnen (elevation 795 meters). I arrived on a Friday. The Saturday was the first full day in the country. In the scene above you see the Staubbach falls which drop 297 meters from the edge of the cliff above. By the time the water hits the ground below it is like a mist, hence the name.
On the Sunday I went on a long hike further up the valley to a cable car station at Stechelberg (960 meters elevation). From there it was by cable car (Seilbahn) to the village of Muerren where the next station was located (1650 meters elevation). Then it was a trek up the Schilthorn mountain to a cable car station at Birg. I had originally wanted to hike all the way up to the summit at 2,973 meters but decided against it due to time limitations. The photo above shows the scene on the walk from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg.
From Muerren and on the way up it is possible to see various mountains such as the Jungfrau (4,158.2 meters), the Moench, the Eiger and the Breithorn. As the following images will attest, its a very scenic view from this height.
A view looking south where the elevation is even higher. There are glaciers behind these mountains. The image below was shot near the ski lodge. The area was used as a setting for the James Bond film called "In her Majesty's Service." The entire cable car system and stations was built for the movie by the studio and then given to the Swiss when the filming was done. The filming took place a couple of years before I arrived to view this scene.
Above is the view from the cable car station at Birg looking across the Lauterbrunnen valley toward the Maennlichen in the foreground at 2,343 meters in elevation. Below is another view looking toward the south.
On the way back down to Muerren, I took this shot of a group of farm buildings at Sonnenberg. Monday it was time to return to Interlaken by the narrow gauge railway and then on to Basel and into Germany. Two two photos below show the train (regular gauge) passing through the town of Thun on Thunersee and finally the main railway station in Basel, Switzerland before continuing on to Germany. I planning the itinerary I ended up crossing destinations off my list just because there wasn't enough time or money to see them all. Time was probably the biggest factor. I was only in Europe for seven weeks and had a two month student railpass to get about ($120 at the time through the Germanrail office in NYC). The visit here and to Salzburg set my interest in mountainous environments. Is it any wonder? I hope you have enjoyed the photos! Feel free to ask any questions. - V