Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another Adventure with Karen and Larry

We had another reminder of our own mortality just recently, so we've been trying to make a point of taking the time to do some fun stuff.  Yesterday, after picking blackberries in the morning (we are up to 46 one gallon pails now) and then three batches of jam for me in the afternoon, we loaded up our bikes and headed out.  This time the destination was the dyke along the Fraser River, starting at the Mission Bridge and heading to the base of Sumas Mountain, and then riding back along the roads.  

It took us longer to get there than usual, as we had to stop at two different train tracks and wait for two very long, very slow trains.

We set off on the dyke and quickly detoured to a trail closer to the river.  As we rode along, there wasn't much of a view, and I was saying that they could have cleared out some of the scrub in a few spots.  Right after that we came upon a bunch of grassy clearings, some with a bench, and one with a hitching rack, for sitting and watching the river go by.  We did see two people riding horses.

There are a couple or roads that run right up to the river bank, so we checked those out.  The first one wasn't much, but the second one led down to a nice sandy beach.  We rode down on our bikes and kept riding along the beach, because it was there, and we could!  That's what adventure is all about, taking the routes slightly less travelled😊

Eventually we ran into a few obstacles, but nothing we couldn't heave our bikes over, or under.

Then the sand ran out.

Rocks ahead, but we can do this!

So we got over the rocks, pushing and carrying our bikes. 

More sand, more rocks, more sand, more rocks, and then one reaaalllly big tree.  We had left our bikes further back and we were doing a reconnaissance  mission.

And we came to a lovely little bay.  According to my phone, we were right by a lane coming through a field from the dyke.  Larry scrambled up the bank to look.

That's Sumas Mountain in the distance.  Still a long way to go, and we had used up much of our time.  

We pushed and pulled our bikes up the bank and rode out between a hay field and corn field.  Passed a sign facing the other way saying 'authorized access only' πŸ˜‰
We checked out another road access further down the dyke, but it ended at a high bank covered in blackberries, and we didn't see a way down.  

After that we headed out to the road and made our way back.

When we got to where Sim Rd. was going to meet up with Page Rd, I could see a big cornfield with a long line of ornamental trees alongside it, and something yellow.  When we got closer it was sunflowers.  What a lovely sight, a farmer with a vision of making his boring cornfield a sight to behold!

And finally back to the car

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Leading Up To The Kayaking

I've got to say, blogging seemed so much easier when I just had one camera and one computer.  An older computer that I was so familiar with and seemed to have no issues getting pictures up and a blog written.  Then last summer the computer died, and had to be replaced and has Windows 10 or something and I don't know, things are different and there are different places that I have the pictures and I seem to have issues.  About the same time I upgraded my phone and it has a decent camera and so was using that more for photos because it was just so convenient, oh and along the way I acquired a better camera.  Then I was gifted an older Apple laptop so mostly use that now, but not totally familiar with it, and everything just seems so flippin' difficult sometimes. Ok, rant over, just letting you know I have not totally adjusted to all this extra technology.

So this post has been in the works for the last week or more.  Well more like 4 weeks, if I really think about it.  Along the way I seem to have lost some photos on the phone, I think they may have ended up on the SD card, but don't know how to check and Google wasn't really giving me a nice simple answer.

We've always liked bike riding.  We seem to make more time for it when we are at Wyndson Cottage in Oliver, and don't get a lot done here.  Maybe because we have  flatter options in Oliver, and here, riding from the house involves hills.

A winter ride to Tucelnuit Lake in Oliver

About six weeks ago I suggested that we go one evening to Ft. Langley ( a little cute historic town 15 minutes away) and ride the Fort to Fort trail.  We ended up Derby Reach park and campsite.  Lovely evening, the sun setting over the river.

A pretty cool boat moored in the channel.

So we made some effort and three times a week for a few weeks, we got ourselves out for a ride.  Mostly in the evening, but sometimes during the day.  We found that if we took the front wheels off our bikes (they have a quick release), one fit in the back seat of our little car and the other in the trunk.  So sometimes we drove to a different area to ride, and sometimes we rode out from home.

When we were at Oliver a couple of weeks ago, Larry picked out a route.  Instead of along the dyke, we went west and uphill.  I knew it was uphill, we've driven that way lots of times, but it is only when you are on a bike that your REALLY realize how uphill it is.  We had to get off and walk a few times, it was a warm and muggy evening.  A bit of smoke haze over the mountains.  
In the photo below we are on the downhill.  The vegetation was so dry, they had no rain at all for weeks.  We have driven down this particular road a few times, but never realized that there is a creek burbling it's way down the hill.  It just seemed so out of place in the dryness, and we kept trying to  see it.  At times it was right next to the road, but had worn itself such a deep narrow channel that the bushes kept it hidden until we finally found an open spot and could actually see the water

One time we went back to Ft. Langley and the campsite, and rode out in a different direction.  A really nice beach area along the river, I could only think how the dogs would enjoy that.  The Golden Ears Bridge in the background.

I had picked up a bulletin from the park, which had all sorts of events listed at the various parks in the area.  The only one that really interested me was a free tryout of a kayak or in a 12 person war canoe.  So on that day I suggested we drive down and park at the dyke where we walk the dogs, and then ride along River Rd. into Ft. Langley and then over the bridge to Brae Island Regional Park.  We both got kayaks to try out, and we loved it.  Well maybe me more than Larry, but he had a good time too (those are some of the pictures I have 'misplaced').  And the rest is history I guess.  I checked out kayaks on Craigslist and a few other places and ended up getting a couple of starter ones on sale for a good price from Canadian Tire.

Last week we took them into town and had a paddle on Mill Lake.  Meredith met us there and tried them out.  Another smoky evening (we have had a week now of smoke hanging over us from wildfires in other parts of the province.) Meredith took this picture of me.

The smoke isn't too obvious at ground level close up, but we can't see any mountains, and sometimes we can smell it when we go outside.

The last two weeks, we haven't been able to keep up our three times a week rides, but are trying to get back into it this week.  
Last night we went out.  It was just supposed to be a short ride, it was still warm and a bit muggy. So 2 1/4 miles to the end of Bradner Rd, by Jubilee Hall, and then home.  We got to the end and I said I wanted to check out the old road.  The road used to wind down the hill at that point, steep and gravelly and hard to maintain, and often closed in winter.  Some years ago they gave up on it, and gated it off at both ends.  It appears that the quad people had been keeping it well used.  We got down to the first corner,  I looked at Larry and asked if he wanted to just keep going, and he said 'sure!' (which actually surprised me!)

We got off the old pavement onto loose steep gravel.  He asked me how I was doing with the braking, he was having a bit of trouble keeping control.  I think I had better treads on my tires and was doing slightly better, but did slow down some more.  We passed a pile of bear poop.  I talked loudly πŸ˜‰ I glanced at a quad trail joining up with the old road, and then when I looked back there was a big ditch in the road.  I braked but couldn't stop or avoid it, and so came to an abrupt halt, and I and the bike did a slow somersault.  Oops.  Injuries were minor.  Some skin missing below my right knee, scrapes on my left shin, a good scratch on my right thigh and a bruise on my left hip.  The heels of my hands were sore as they took some of the impact.  I thought Larry was going to wipe out in his rush to stop and come to my aid. A bit of blood but nothing much.  It was a reminder though to carry a bit of first aid with us.  We continued on and then once we got back onto the main road we stopped and I took this photo.  None of the cameras I've tried will pick up the redness of the sun.  That is not mist out there, it is smoke.  It looks worse because we are looking a long distance and the smoke is compounded.  

We got down onto the flat and rode until we hit the very steep hill heading back up to our area.  It was a walking hill.  The last time I attempted it I got flashing lights at the edge of my vision.  Once we made it to the top, a bit of downhill and home.  About 6.5 miles

Today we went kayaking on the Fraser River.  Not terribly exciting, and still smoky.

Did some Googling this evening and have now fixed the blurriness on the main camera on my phone. See the difference between this one in the kayaks and the one below it taken with the front camera?  Was finding it very frustrating, but future pictures will be better now! 

We just got back home and Meredith texted us Happy Anniversary.  Pretty funny, neither of us had remembered, that is a first for me, although not Larry.πŸ˜‰
At least we spent some fun time together today.
36 years ago on another hot August day.....

Friday, July 28, 2017


There is another blog post that I was going to do that leads into this one, but oh well, at the moment I'm more gung ho about doing this one, and since I haven't been very productive in the blogging department, you have to take what you get!

This week we were away at Wyndson Cottage in Oliver BC.  And we had taken kayaks.....I've always wanted to kayak.....at least in my head.  I've only done it once before, many years ago, and loved it.  Anyway, we ended up with a couple of kayaks.

The first full day in Oliver we kayaked around Tuc-el-nuit lake, which is the little lake right on the edge of town.  We take the dogs there to swim, you've seen pictures of them there.  So we took the dogs for a swim first, and checked out the lake conditions.  A bit breezy, but not bad.  Took the dogs back to the house and went back to kayak.  Oops, the wind had picked up some more.  Plus, there were other people there now, and we had to get ourselves into the kayaks and paddle across the wind, and try not to make fools of ourselves.  Thankfully, all went well (our little practice run down at the dog dyke at home had ended with Larry being soaking wet). Then we turned into the wind and it was a tough slog against it until we got to the relative calmness at the other end. Coming back down the other side was much easier, and of course the wind had dropped somewhat.

Anyway, that paddle wasn't quite the idyllic trip I was picturing.  Larry made a suggestion for a second outing, I was a bit apprehensive at first about the location, but am so glad that we took the plunge.  We turned off the pavement and bounced and bucked our way up a gravel road.  Actually it was rocks poking up, channels where water had run through, sand, potholes, we were going no more than 10 km per hour. The kind of road I imaged David and his land rover bunch going out on.  After a lot of uphill we finally made to a beautiful little lake nestled in the tops of the hills. It is called either Burnell or Sawmill lake.

There was just the gentlest of breezes rippling some of the lake.  The only other people there were a couple and young child camped on the other side.  The got into their canoe not long after we arrived and went for a paddle around.

The water was really shallow in spots and so clear.  It creeped me out a bit at first, but I got used to it and found the thick mossy weed on the bottom, fascinating.  Holes in it, like cave entrances for turtles (saw quite a few of those) or fish, of which we saw none.

It's all open range land up there, but the cattle are fenced off from the lake, except in this one spot.  That black blob in the middle is a few head resting in the shade.

Damselflies were everywhere

Some people hope to kayak with whales and dolphins, and it sounds wonderful, but in reality I'd probably be terrified (of the whales at least).  I was more than thrilled with the damselflies and turtles!

It turned out to the the perfect kayaking adventure of my imagination.

I thought the drive back down would be faster, but no, we had to crawl down like we crawled up.

The bonus was the wildlife!  This mother bear and two cubs bolted the instant we appeared.  Then mum stood on her hind legs and looked back at us, and she is just turned to go again in this shot.  Wasn't much time to get a decent picture.

And a bit further down on a side track, a doe was munching on some leaves.

It was wonderful little trip, I'll be thinking fondly about it for a long time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When Life Hands You Basil, Make Pesto!

We were slow at packing up after the Sunday market.  It had been a busy day.  The week before at the market, I had done something to my ribs on my right side while leaning over the side of the market trailer and trying to stretch enough to reach for something on the far side. The wood side of the trailer was digging into my ribs.  All of a sudden there was a pop or crack or some sort of noise and pain in the rib area. Not sure what I did, my best guess is that I tore a muscle on that side, or maybe I cracked a rib? Who knows.  It had bothered me on and off all week, depending on what I was doing.  At times the pain was brief but excruciating.  On Saturday I hardly noticed it, but on Sunday while setting up at the market it returned in a fury, and bothered me all day.  Therefore I was taking it slow easy when we were taking down.  We are generally one of the last vendors to leave, and the market manager was still there also.  She called over, asking me if I wanted any basil, and then she said I could have it all, maybe to just feed to the chickens. She had been given a box with about 12 large bunches of basil in it by another vendor. 

I used to grow basil, a lot of it.  Many years ago a few women who met at a Moms and Tots class started growing it and taking it to sell to some of the vendors at Granville Island.  Duso's and the Stock Market had regular orders.  After that enterprise folded, I still continued to grow a large bed of basil and sold it at the markets.  Two or three years ago the basil was hit by downy mildew.  After I got a cut or two off it it the leaves started to yellow and it developed black spores on the underside of the leaves.  The whole bed was affected.  The same thing happened last year, so this year I only have a few small clumps up by the tomatoes in the other garden, that I bought from a nursery. 

When we got the gifted basil home I had a look at it, and thought it looked a bit sad and wilted.  I put some water in a big bin and propped all the bunches up and put it outside overnight, thinking that the dew would help to freshen it up.  Well the dew part didn't happen because it clouded over during the night, but the basil was slightly perked up.  I offered some of the loose leaves to the chickens but they pecked at it once or twice and walked away.  So I decided to make pesto.

Usually what I have done with extra basil was to just blend it up with some oil and freeze it in ice cube trays, and then add a cube or two to pasta sauce.

This time I decide to make actual pesto, or close to it at least.  I thought about looking at an actual recipe, but really didn't want to.  I wouldn't have liked the first one I saw, which would lead to me looking at ten more, and then I have to decide on one, or take parts of different recipes, and then read it every two minutes because I couldn't remember the amounts. Ugggghhh.  I dislike having to follow a recipe.

So I knew the basics.  Basil, olive oil, garlic, nuts, salt.  No cheese in this house.
I took about 1/3 of the bunches, washed and spun them in the salad spinner and ripped everything off the big thick stems.

Yay, a way to use up some leftover garlic scapes.  So I chopped a couple or three of those up.

Tossed the greens in the food processor, poured in what I thought was enough oil, a decent handful of walnuts and a bit of sea salt.

One batch down, two more to go.

I think it made about 5 cups.  I didn't have any decent ice cube trays, so used some 125 ml canning jars. It filled up 9. (I'm pretty sure I ate what would have filled the tenth one).  When it's frozen I'll run hot water over the bottom of the jars and slip the frozen pesto out and store the blocks in a freezer bag.

On Mothers's Day Meredith had us over for supper.  She made a recipe with chicken and pesto, and it was really good.  I sort of tried to replicate it tonight.  
Sliced chicken breast sauteed in coconut oil and then one of the jars of pesto dumped in and stirred around, the sliced tomatoes added to the top and then it was put in the oven to cook a bit more, along with the cauliflower rice.

So tonight's dinner was......
Leftover salad greens from the market, cauliflower rice on top, and the chicken mixture on top of that. 
Not as good as Meredith's but tasty all the same, and I didn't have to follow a recipe!

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Ticky Tacky Redneck Greenhouse

Our route often takes us past a dog club friend's property, where they have dog agility equipment set up in the front field.  There was an old metal 6 sided gazebo frame there that often caught my eye.  I always thought that it would look so cool with beans trained to grow over it, making a leafy little cave.  One day I was over there helping to clean agility equipment for the BC/Yukon Regionals.

Yep, that's me, power washing the inside of the tunnels.

I mentioned to Marilyn that she should grow beans on the gazebo frame.  She laughed and said that shortly they were going to get rid of it.  Well if you know me.......
So I mentioned that I might be interested.  

Her husband called last weekend and said he was wanting it gone, so if we were interested, to come and have a look.  When we got there, he said it might be a wasted trip.  All the nuts and bolts on the frame were rusted.  A couple of welds were broken from the frame being dragged around to mow the grass.  A leg had got bent when hit by the lawnmower.  Larry and I thought it would be okay, as long as we could get it apart.  We gathered some tools, and amazingly, all the bolts cooperated and we got it all apart and stuffed into our little car.

I wanted to keep the momentum going, so that afternoon I put the side walls back together, and then Larry came and helped me with the rafters.

Tuesday we dragged out our big old piece of greenhouse plastic and cut off a piece that we thought might work.
Wednesday I fiddled around with it and got the plastic tied down to the poles, but not the gazebo.  If a wind storm comes along it will just take the plastic and not the gazebo as well.  
I had planted 3/4 of those tomato plants before we went to Oliver last week.


There are strings attached to the rafters and to the plants down the middle. I will twist the plants around the strings as they grow. 
My first job after high school was in a tomato greenhouse, and that is how they tied up their tomatoes.

I did move some of the plants around the edge so that I could tie them to the frame and then as they got taller, could used the strings I stretched between the top and the lower part of the wall.

While I've got you at this garden, I might as well show you the rest.  
Here you are looking at four rows of dahlias, 74 of them.  These make my heart go pitter patter, because they are doing so well, and this time last year I didn't even have the majority of them planted!

I can even see a flower bud!
And look at that thin red line along the leaf, which I would never have noticed if not for this picture.

From the north end of the garden. Photo bombing on the right is one of three red currant bushes.  It was an excellent year for them and I picked five buckets, yet to be made into jelly.  Behind them, out of sight, are five blackcurrant bushes, yet to be picked

To the left of the dahlias are another two rows with 26 dahlias.  I told Larry I had 100 dahlias planted, and his only comment was 'Why?'.
And to the left of those are 4 rows of potatoes, which I hilled up tonight. To the very left is a wild mess of raspberries.


On the other side of the raspberries (to the right in this photo) are a few blueberry bushes, a massive rhubarb patch that has done sooo well after I transplanted them last year, then a row of blueberry bushes.
I'm hoping the streamers will keep the birds off the blueberries, but I have my doubts as I saw a robin in there tonight.  I've got some other shiny metallic tape to hang up that worked well on the figs last year, and also on the red currants.

On the other side of the blueberries is a row with 19 zucchini plants, it extends down into the shade, which ends up in the sun about 10am.  I'm hoping there will be zukes ready in a couple of weeks.

Blueberries starting to ripen, I've eaten one or two

Raspberries too

Little tomatoes

Squash seeded directly into the manure pile.  I'm interested to see how they do

And back down at the house, a couple of roses

I've spent a lot of hours in that garden this week, and have thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I'm reminded of how much I enjoy growing food... and dahlias π¨πŸ˜‰.