Monday, May 16, 2016

Same Old

You've seen most of this before, but I wanted to show you how green Oliver Mountain was this Spring after the fire of last summer.  The grass has returned with a vengeance.  It was a beautiful day for a hike.

A new line of power poles went up the mountain, along with a wider ATV trail, so that is what we followed.  We worked hard to keep Luna on the trail and close by, and I am happy to say that this is the first time I didn't have to pull spiny cactus bits from her feet.

The clumps of Arrowleaf Balsamroot  were so pretty.  I was wondering if there were two types, as some seemed to have wider petals than others.

Not long ago vandals cut the guy wires to the cell tower at the top of the mountain, and toppled it over.  When we were there, three guys were working to take the tower apart in preparation to remove it from the mountain.  The next day we could see a helicopter carrying parts away.

Luna relaxing on the helicopter pad.  You can see for miles. We are looking down the valley towards Osoyoos.

Looking to the northeast with Tuc-el-nuit Lake behind me.

Look at all that grass.

Some of the Ponderosa Pines had only been burned at the bottom, so it looked like they would survive.  Some of the smaller ones were burned for their full height, and I think they were done in.

Lots of green, and a good dog on the trail.

Lots of little clumps of different sorts of flowers.  These look like a creeping Phlox.....anyone?

These little yellow flowers were tiny, about the size of a penny.

This something new.  It was in the really burned areas.  I have just decided that it is probably a flower from the Prickly Pear cactus.

They were only in one specific area.  A little valley I liked to walk through, that was burned badly, but the Columbines on the rock scree were still there.

Almost at the bottom.  The water tower ahead on the right.
Two good (tired) dogs plodding down the trail.

I have managed to accidentally delete two posts, maybe more.  The Sun Run one, and the one of the fields of yellow flowers.  
Very maddening.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Funky and Fun

It's been busy around here.  So much gardening and yard work to do right now, and not enough energy.  Since it seems like Summer has already arrived, I've been trying to get some of my pots and other containers planted up.  Maybe for once I'll actually have a decent display, and have it done before July or August.  Now wouldn't that be something! 

I thought I'd show you some of my funky yard art.  For Christmas last year I asked David if he would make me some sort of funky metal sculpture.  A couple of years before he had made a really cool one for his girlfriend's mother.  We had all sort of heads from gardening tools, and I was imagining them all welded together somehow.  I don't think any welding got done until Christmas Eve (is procrastination hereditary?....) and then on Christmas Day I was informed that it didn't work out with the tool heads.  There had been a lot of crashing and banging earlier while my new funky yard art was arranged on the deck for my Christmas morning viewing.  Not quite what I was expecting, but hey, I can work with it.

The petunia is in a wire 'chair' frame that I already had.  I used moss collected on one of our morning walks.

There were three pieces of funky welding.  The first is that piece at the back of the wagon bed.  I've decided it looks good there, so am going to drill a couple of holes in the back of the rim of the wagon and stick the two ends of the baler tines in the holes. Right now it is just shoved in the dirt.  So it is some sort of pulley wheel, 4 baler tines and four horse shoes.

The next piece is the wagon part of a Red Flyer, welded to the PTO shaft of a piece of farm equipment.   Since it is quite shallow I added the pots to give a few plants a bit more depth, and then filled the wagon up with soil and put some succulents in around the pots. I've just planted them all so am hoping they fill out nicely.  Of course that would require a person to feed and water them in a timely manner.  I'm not sure that person is me, but I'll try....

 The two angle braces are two pieces of a set of fireplace tools, the shovel and the log poker.  All are welded to some other random cog wheel from something or other, who knows what....

The third piece was an old jack, with the base of the fireplace tools set welded to it as a little adjustable shelf.  The base is a lug wrench (Larry saw it and said 'I've been looking for that....') Oops! Four more horse shoes brace the jack and the wrench.  The pot is one my Dad made.  It's a bit precarious on there, I might run a piece of wire around the pot and fasten it tight to the top of the jack.

At the base is a resting rock goose.  The rest of the goose family are at the front of the house.

Still some cleanup to do there by the front door, and the Scottie dog needs a plant.  The little girl has a dog, a cat (peeking around the big planter) and three geese to keep her company. 

I had two dogs keeping me company.  

Please please can you throw our toy.

I think Luna might be catching the little platypus this time.

I was trying to give them each a turn

Jake tends to look slightly crazy doing this sort of thing.

A lovely summer type evening to end a lovely summer type day.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Creepy Crawlies

It probably seems to some of you that I am kind of obsessed about ticks.  I probably am, because last year was the first time I had anything to do with them.  They are still new and fascinating, in a creepy sort of way, to me.  Last year was the first time I had ever found any on our dogs.  So now I think about them a lot.  

They say to have a shower after you have been in a tick area.  Well a fat lot of good that did me (previous post) with the one I found crawling in my hair.  It must have been hanging on tight to not get swept down the drain.  So after we got back from the Okanagan, I was checking the dogs for ticks pretty well every day.  After a while when I hadn't found any, I figured (thank goodness), that we hadn't brought any back.  And then on Friday afternoon Larry was giving Jake some attention and informed me that there was a bump.  And it was a tick with a death grip on his skin.  So I got the tweezers and got a good hold on it and pulled and pulled until it finally came free with a chunk of Jake's skin.  He didn't seem bothered.  The weirdest thing was that under the bloated tick was another tick, that hadn't yet started to feed.  Very strange.  Anyway, didn't find any more on Jake.  Then it was Luna's turn.  I found these three on Luna.  All of them were just to the side of the spine, near the shoulder blades or back a bit from there.  Calli didn't seem to have any.  We had been back nine days from the Okanagan.  That seemed a long time to me, too long.  But, I looked them up and they appear to be Rocky Mountain ticks, which one site said were not found west of the coast mountains. If that is true, although I wonder with climate change and all that, they must have been on the dogs all those nine days.  Gross:(

When we were at Oliver I did notice some rather large spiders.  This one took the cake.  It may have been the same one I saw earlier on the front of the house, but it disappeared down into the flowers before I could show it to Larry.
Here it is crawling up the hand railing to the front door.  That is a honey bee it has a hold of.  I think the bee was still moving a bit when I first saw it.  That gives you some idea of the size of the spider.

I couldn't really get a decent picture.  The thing made me think of a mini tarantula.  I was using that orangey cloth to try keep the spider in position on the post.  It just seemed like it wanted to hang out under the corner of the railing.  I looked up spider pictures but didn't find anything that matched.

I think the ticks freak me out more than the spiders.
Excuse me for a moment while I go check that itchy crawly feeling on my back.

In other news, I went for a run with Meredith the Friday before last.  My knee seemed okay while running, but afterwards kind of felt like it was back to square one.  Bummer! So I'm giving up on the running for a while, and am resorting to bike riding instead.  Which is okay because I actually like that better.  I'm trying to do it on a schedule, trying to maintain the fitness level I had reached.  This morning both Larry and I went out together, and rode 8.5 miles.  We saw a couple of interesting things.  

This is the gate to a residence.  We couldn't actually see the house, but if it matched the scale of the gate and stone wall along the front of the property, it must be enormous.  I just have to ask 'why?'

We saw a few of these signs.  

$5000 Reward?  That boggles the mind.  The other thing was that the cat was a spitting image of Nelson.   One of the signs said 'never give up hope' at the bottom.  So my mind got working overtime the way it does sometimes.  Did 'never give up hope' mean that the cat had been missing a long time?  A very long time? As in 10 years?  My mum adopted Nelson from a shelter less than two miles from where I saw one of the signs, ten years ago. 
I wonder if I can get up the nerve to call the number. 
Do I want to call the number? 
That would be just too weird....

Oh yeah, on Thursday when we were out on our bikes, we saw an air conditioner sitting in the long grass at the side of the road.  It was still there on the way back, so when we got home we jumped in the car and went and back and picked it up.  It was dirty and looked like it had been sitting somewhere for years.  What the heck, we had nothing to lose, and maybe an airconditioner to gain.   
We plugged it in and turned the fan on, which started up and then stopped.  It sounded like it had got caught on something.  Another day passed and I took the cover off and got some grass out of the fan area, and managed to haul about eight Trivial Pursuit cards out of there as well.  Plugged it in again and the fan worked fine and the cold air did too.
So today I got the air compressor and blasted all the junk out of it (as well at four more Trivial Pursuit cards) and wiped down all what I could with a damp soapy cloth.  It seems to work just fine, so will maybe try it in our bedroom window one warm evening. 
That's me, Ms. Junk collector. 
You just never know what you might find!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why? Rhymes with Cry

Ugh, I've struggled with this post.  Made a few attempts at it, and now will change it yet again.  These pictures were taken a week ago, so things have changed a bit now.  The petals are falling on the cherry tree, pink snow, and the leaves are unfurling.
We have finished our second stretch of summer like weather.  The temperature was 26 C or 78 F last Thursday, and almost as warm Friday.  The trees have gone wild.  Cherry trees, both ornamental and not, apple trees and pear trees and plum trees all in full bloom, or are finished.

A while back, son David started a fairly involved application for a work term for his university course.  He Googled all sorts of things related to interviews at this particular company, questions asked, waiting time to hear back after the interview etc.  After his application was received, he was asked to complete two online, timed tests.  One was reading comprehension, and the other was math related.  He obviously did well on those, as he received a phone call to set up an interview.  Because of the distance involved between the place of work and here, it was a phone interview.  That interview led to a second phone interview, and eventually he was offered a job.  Now one of the questions he came across that is sometimes asked at interviews, was to describe yourself with one word.  He doubted he would get asked that, but thought that 'just in case', he should come up with something.  His word was 'genuine'.  And lo and behold if he wasn't asked that question at his interview.  He had to give examples to support his 'word'.  

When we were all talking about this later, other family members tried to come up with a word of our own.  I can't remember what the others said, but my word was 'why'.  As in 'why do you have to do it that way',  'why are you telling me to take this road, when that road looks like the better option?, why, why, why?'  Now I don't recall ever being told that I was one of those little kids that was always asking 'why, Daddy?', but I certainly am one now.  Don't tell me not to do something, if you aren't willing to tell me why.

As most of you know, Meredith and I were training for the 10 Km Sun Run, to be held this Sunday.  
Last Friday I was walking down the driveway, normally.  I didn't step in a hole or on a rock, but suddenly my knee felt like it had exploded.  Extreme pain and it felt like it was going to just give out.  I cancelled that day's training run, and limped around.  If I stepped slightly wrong I screamed and swore, and felt like I was going to fall.  I was sure I must have torn ligaments.  I was sure my Sun Run was only going to be a spectator event.  Why oh why had it happened.  So close, and now so far.  
I felt like I wanted to cry.

I made it through the weekend, and on Monday afternoon I went to see the doctor.  The knee was definitely improving, but I still had those 'gasping, swearing, I'm sure I'm going to fall' moments. and I wanted to find out what was going on, and the best way to deal with it.  Of course when I am in the examining room, no matter how he moved it or put pressure on it, the doctor wasn't able to make me gasp once.  Based on what I told him, he figured that it was just a rough piece of cartilage that was causing the pain.  The good news was that he said cartilage heals fast, and there still was hope for me to do the Sun Run.  Meredith was pretty happy when I told her, since we have trained as a team and planned to race together.  The doctor told me not to run on it until the race, but that cycling would be a good alternative. He sent me for an xray, and I went there right after leaving his office.  Well wouldn't you know it, there was something just outside the door of the lab that I caught my foot on, and I jarred the whole leg and the knee went back to feeling how it did when it first happened.  
I couldn't believe it, once again I wanted to cry. Mostly because it hurt like H E double hockey sticks.

I couldn't straighten the knee out properly on the xray table.  I had asked about putting ice on it, but the doctor said there didn't seem to be a lot swelling, and he didn't know where exactly I should ice it.  Well after I got home I thought there was some swelling, so I did put ice on it. It seemed to help a bit.  Yesterday I got on my bike and rode 10 km, and the knee didn't bother me at all, while riding.  I still couldn't totally flatten the knee while walking or standing.  The cringing moments were definitely less though.  Today I rode the bike again, almost another 10 km.  The knee feels a bit better, and I looked up some acupressure points and that seemed to help too.

My xray came back just showing some minor signs of the start of osteoarthritis. Usual for my age.  That was good news I guess.  A very small part of me was almost disappointed that there wasn`t something more dramatic to explain the pain of the first few days.

The plan is to go to Vancouver for the run on Sunday.  Hopefully if I continue to improve I`ll be able to run, or at least start the race.  Larry has offered to drive us in.  That is nice, as otherwise we would have driven part way and then taken the skytrain with a few thousand other people.  That way if my knee decides to tell me that I am a stupid fool for trying to run on it, it will be nice to have a car and driver to get me home.

Our third round of summer weather is starting on Sunday.  I`m not a warm weather runner, or hobbler, or whatever....I`d much prefer a cool day, with no sun, or sun and a cold breeze.

Oh yeah, back to David.  He has been offered, and accepted, a thirteen month internship in the Wood Shop Planning and Bespoke Division of Rolls Royce on the Goodwood Estate in England.  A dream job combining his education in wood and his passion for cars.
This may be your `you learn something every day from reading blogs` moment.  Yes, I had to look up the meaning of `bespoke`.  Rolls Royce and bespoke go hand in hand.

Hope Spring at least, has arrived where you live.

I hear that you think my breath stinks and my back teeth look bad, and I have to go to the VET! next week.
Sorry Nelson!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Calli Climbs a 'Mountain'

(You may want to skip this first paragraph, it's just me, wanting to make everything clear (as mud) as usual).

On our way to Oliver, we took what I refer to as the back way.  When we get to Keremeos, which is 45 minutes from Oliver, we have a choice of going north towards Kaleden, or south to Osoyoos. Neither route is direct. There is another route, a rough road that goes over the mountain out of the back of Cawston, which is just south of Keremeos, but while probably the most direct route, it takes just as long because you have to go slower. I guess that would be the back, back way. We've only taken that once. In case anyone is interested, you can zoom in on the map below for a better view.  I'm often surprised how many BC people don't know exactly where Oliver is. I think it is because it is between two main routes. Those would be north from Keremeos to Penticton and Kelowna, the two main Okanagan resort towns, or south to Osoyoos and points east. As you can see, Oliver is not very far east of Keremeos, if you are a crow. Anyway, the back way for us is heading north towards Kaleden, and then turning off at the Twin Lakes junction and heading towards White Lake and Willowbrook. (if you zoom in you will see it).

We have often passed this sign, seen the trails on the hill, and thought that some day we should take a walk there.  Usually we are arriving at Oliver around dark. This time there were a few hours of daylight left, so we made a snap decision that it would be a good place, a new place, to take the dogs for a walk, and then we wouldn't have to walk them later.

There was another sign talking about it being a conservation area, dogs having been found down at the lake, and harassing cattle, and there was a possibility of dogs being banned from the area, so please keep them on leash, and we did.

As you can see it was a very grey day, not really cold, but the wind sure made it seem that way.  As soon as we set off down the laneway, Calli was just marching right along, out in front.  When we got closer to the lake and the corrals, the trail headed uphill. It was quite damp in that area, with running water (which was really quite a surprise to see, in such a dry area), so we kind of had to pick our way across the slope to avoid getting our feet too wet.

We made it up the first hill.  You can see the lane we started out on running at an angle below. I had to literally pull Calli up, she was game to try but it was steep enough that she would slip back each time she lifted up a front foot if I didn't keep pressure on the leash.  The leash is attached to her cart.

After that hill there was a gentler one, and she was out in front again. More running surface water.

At the top there was a lake, mostly fenced to keep the cattle out, so the birds were undisturbed.

But one end was open, and old tired dogs needed a drink.  

We were interested in continuing on, but the trail continued uphill, and we had come quite a way already.  Time to turn back.  We didn't need to overdo it with a 16 year dog who only has two good legs.

When we got to this spot, I said 'oh lets try take a photo all of us'.  So I managed to prop the camera on a rock, set the timer and then ran down the hill to join the group, which got Jake and Luna all bouncing around in excitement.  All I got was a lot of blurry shots of me trying to control the dogs and Larry making a weird squinting face, trying to see if the camera was actually taking any pictures.

Colourful lichens

Tiny wildflowers blooming.

Younger dogs waiting for the old dogs;-)
There was something about the light that made Jake look extra red.
And the wind was still howling. 

Almost done.

And as usual we pulled into Oliver right around dark.