Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Such a Busy Summer

It has been a full, wonderful, bulging-with-fun summer. Yes, I know it isn't over yet, but autumn will soon be knocking at the door, and I'm not quite ready for it yet.

Rather than a long exposé about our goings-on, let me show you a few highlights. Pictures, as they say, tell more than words.

We've spent a lot of time out here - the perfect summer evening spot.

Had a good harvest of lavender earlier in the season - three large tote boxes worth.
Now these bundles are scenting the house and linen closet.
The garden was lush with all the July rain, but August has been hot and dry.

We've gone on day rides with the motorcycles, stopping for picnics along the way.
This is at Kopje Park in Lake Country.

Attended a vintage and collector car show in Vernon - over 400 vehicles.

The Husband taking The Lovely Pam on her first motorcycle ride.
Brother Scott looks on - "not her usual ride!"
They spent a few days with us at the end of July.

It's August and the grandkids and their parents have arrived!
The veranda transforms into a beach towel and blanket drying zone.

The kids and grands - alcohol may or may not have been involved in the
crooked angle of this photo.

The Daughter and her partner, with a new grandbaby "on board" as they say.

Miss Abby, contemplating the day.

Mr. Zach enjoying breakfast with Grandpa on the deck.

Miss A getting her first motorcycle ride with Grandpa, on Grandma's bike.

Mr. Zach having a cuddle with Mom.

Cousins ... say "aaah!"

Miss A's inuksuk, built with help from her dad but painted all on her own.

After a few weeks of company, The Husband and I ran away from home and
took a ride along Highway 20 to Anahim Lake. Spent one evening at a lodge
overlooking Nimpo Lake, listening to the loons.

Lodge at Nimpo Lake.

Stopping for a stretch and to enjoy a viewpoint along Highway 24, the
Interlakes Highway between 100 Mile House and Little Fort.

Lac des Roches, looking southeast.

From the big empty country of the Chilcotin and Cariboo regions, a week later
we found ourselves in the Vancouver area. You could not imagine a bigger contrast in environments.
Riding one of the water taxis on False Creek with Sister PK and her partner Garry.

Enjoying frosty malt beverages on Granville Island.

The beach below the Marine Museum on Burrard Inlet.

Vancouver skyline looking at Sunset Beach Park.

Family and friends. Wild open range country and bustling metropolis. The beach, the mountains, breakfasts at golf courses and wine on the veranda.

Much contrast. Much love and fun. Much to be thankful for.

I hope you've had a grand summer as well. And we'd love to have you join us next summer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spinning the Rain Away

I have been spinning yarn for 37 years. Or at least, I learned to spin and to weave 37 years ago. There have been gaps in the activity over the years, but my pores are steeped in fibre and all things fabric.

June as usual is a stormy, unsettled month. Sweltering hot days are chased by cold, wet windy days. Lawn and garden maintenance become a sprint event, trying to find opportunities between the squalls to get mowing and weeding done.

The Husband has been off on a motorcycle ride with Friend Marc, sending texts from Idaho and California. (I'm temporary grounded with federal census work.) Seems like they're having fun. And so as is my wont when he's away, my stuff tends to spread out over the house.

This is all a preface to this:

After a brief hiatus, and with newly-found free time, my Ashford spinning wheel is back taking up room in the kitchen/sitting room.

While wind lashes the trees and rain pours from the sky, I've been set up in front of the computer, watching British detective shows on Knowledge Network, BC's public television station which is also online. I'm particularly taken by a series called Shetland but will also happily settle for Midsomer Murders.

I have a significant stash of raw fleeces that have been waiting for me to have the time and motivation to attend to them. The blue tote box in the above photo had an entire fleece tightly packing into it. The woven basket to the left is lightly filled with locks that have been 'flicked' with a short-tine Viking heckle comb.

I work 'in the grease', which means I don't wash the wool before spinning it. I choose fleeces that are relatively clean of plant matter and dirt. The 'grease' is the lanolin that naturally occurs in wool and what makes it waterproof. It also makes it very nice to spin during hot weather, outside under a shade tree.

 I find cleaning/combing wool to be a mindless or contemplative activity, depending on my mood. It's definitely something that can be done while watching a movie. It's also very satisfying work. The three containers above are all ready for spinning.

Spun wool starts as a single ply strand. Two bobbins plied back against each other make a stable 2-ply yarn. Three bobbins make ... think about it ... 3 ply yarn. There is also a technique I use quite often, especially to deal with orphan single ply on a bobbin, called Navajo plying, whereby the single strand is chained (like crochet work) into long loops and spun back against itself to make a 3-ply.

Which is probably all more than you wanted to know.

Anyway, the finished yarn is taken off the bobbin by winding it around a noddy-noddy to make a skein.

THEN I wash the skein in cold water with a wool detergent, to remove dirty, debris and yes, urine (sheep urine, not mine).

Then the skeins are hung outside, preferably on a warm breezy day, to dry.

Then the skeins are run through steam to even the tension, work out any over-tight spots, after which they are twisting into loose rolls for storage until use. This wool will be woven on my floor loom. I have some ideas in mind for this winter.

But what of the leftover wool?, you ask. The stuff that isn't good for spinning - the short cuts, dirty wool and matts.

I use it for garden mulch.


This is the flower/herb/vegetable patch in the back yard (over the grey water field) that some of you may be familiar with.

And this is wool dross, helping to suppress weeds and retain moisture in this quickly-draining soil. It also finds its way into various nests around the neighbourhood. 

For no other reason other than I was outside taking photos, let me brag about my John Cabot climbing rose. I left the lounge chair in front to give you some size perspective. This rose is from the Agriculture Canada 'Explorer' series. I had many different Explorer rose varieties at our place up north. This is the best bloom yet for this particular plant.

And I'll end with a photo of my season nemesis - the fresh cherry. The first crop of the season is ready, and this is cherry country, so they are fresh, fresh, fresh.

I cannot leave them alone, and they do tragic things to my lower GI tract. It's like a conspiracy. "Let me tempt you with my firm, crisp texture and juicy sweetness which will send your bowels into an uproar!"

Somebody save me from myself. Please.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Garden Explosion and Other Things

Oh, my duckies, it's been a busy, busy time.

Since last I wrote, we've being through days of rain that have left the region lush and green.

Spallumcheen Valley, north of Armstrong.

We survived the wettest Falkland Stampede in 14 years, and have a few lingering bruises to show for it.

Saturday, before the deluge, taken from my perch in the Cashier's office.

Sunday, the day the rain never ended. The misty look is actually a steady downpour...

... which led to Falkland Lake a.k.a. the rodeo arena;
this photo taken right before barrel racing followed by bull riding. 
Nothing says 'fun' like steer wrestling in the mud ...

... other than a kid in the calf scramble who's managed to find his shoe.

Today I had an early start to the day, kissing The Husband goodbye at 6 a.m. before watching him ride down the driveway on the Triumph for a rendezvous with friends in Calgary. Much as I love mornings and sunrises, I'm inherently a night owl, so watching the sunrise this close to summer solstice, and not from the end of an all-nighter, is rare indeed.

I did have opportunity to wander though my yard in the cool and quiet early dawn.

I'm training my baby ginkgo biloba tree to develop lateral branches rather than the vertical style they tend towards. Hence, the 'rock fruit'. Also noticed I'll have to adjust the bracing to deal with the curvature it developed from being in a nursery too long. That just takes time and patience.

The roses have exploded into bloom with the recent heat after 10 days of rain.

Remember the barren space of dirt and rock from nine years ago?

It's a little more lush these days.

And this is one of the many, many rewards for diligence and hard work.

I'm off to go do some watercolour painting in the outdoors. Hope you're enjoying you day as well!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Beginning of a Scary Wildfire Season

It's already upon us - a dry, dry spring leading to what many of us expect will be a devastating summer.

Prayers go out to those fleeing the flames and whose homes have already been destroyed.

full story here: Ft McMurray Wildfire

"Fort McMurray’s more than 80,000 residents have been ordered to flee the oilsands city after a massive wildfire, fuelled by soaring temperatures and tinder-dry forest, broached the city limits."

Friday, April 8, 2016

A day in the primordial forest.

One of the lovely things about this area is the immediacy of nature even in the presence of a medium sized city. Just 15 minutes or so from the hustle and bustle of main street Vernon is a little regional park that contains a stretch of BX Creek and the mighty BX Falls. This time of year, with the snow pack melting under the hot spring sun, all the creeks, rivers and waterbodies are full to overflowing. 

The Daughter is not feeling very well these day ... morning sickness during her first trimester of pregnancy ... and as I was in town on errands, I took her for a little stroll in the cool cedar forest for fresh air.

Spring run on BX Creek, rushing and tumbling down the mountain.

Lichen and moss.
She has a particular affinity for garter snakes, and look what we found on the trail above the falls:

The Daughter found this little fellow on the trail. When she picked it up,
the garter snake immediately curled up around her finger, seeking warmth.

There you go, warmed up and ready for the day.

We didn't get to the falls themselves today. We came in on the east end, and there are a long, long series of very steep steps to the bottom. My left knee hates me right now, and she just wasn't up to it, so we enjoyed the view through the cedar boughs from above and listened to the roar of the water.

Maybe another day, we'll go in from the west, walking upstream. There's always another day.

Do a little Google search on BX Falls Vernon - you'll see how lovely they are.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Temper Tantrums

Mother Nature is a the fickle cow she always is this time of year. The early morning promise of sunshine and warmth can be reneged upon in the blink of an eye. Snow rapidly follows bright blue skies and taunts "Not yet. Not just yet."

The Husband and I spent last week in Southern Alberta, attending to some small business and then visiting family and friends. It's always both delightful and a wee bit melancholic. Returning to a home town and community that is changed all out of recognition for me is difficult, and much as I've tried to let it go, it's hard, even after all these years.

The true joy was knowing I had all the time in the world to spend with those lovely people, should I choose to. That, my friends, is real freedom.

But back to Mother Nature. We drove through three snow squalls on route through the mountain passes. The Husband had thought to ride his motorcycle this trip, and I cocked an eyebrow at him.''

"Really? In March, in the mountains and in Alberta?"

Turned out the Weather Network had a sobering effect on him, which was just as well. The mini-snowstorm that fluttered down on us Thursday evening (whilst ensconced in a hot tub - now that is luxury!) added a little "So there!" to the thought.

The weather did improve over the Easter weekend, perfect for family time. And in the process of clearing up the skies, MN did satisfy my love of cloudscapes.

Prairie skies really are the most dramatic. Growing up in big sky country leaves a mark on one's soul.

I close with a lovely quote I read recently from a book called 'The Real McCoy' by Darin Strauss:

"He listened for a moment to the flapping of wings that was his worry leaving him."