Saturday, May 13, 2017


It was Thursday around suppertime.  I was messing around in the kitchen, maybe doing some cleaning up after an earlier jam making session.  I'd seen a bit of the early news on tv, and a story about a house fire, caused by a cigarette, had caught my attention.  The tenant on one floor had been saved by the tenant on the other floor, and the fire had reignited later in the day and fire department had to return to the house.  I happened to glance out of the kitchen window and was horrified to see a massive plume of black smoke coming up behind our barn.  I just couldn't fathom it.  I ran outside and when I got far enough I realized that it was not our barn, but a huge barn on the property next to us.  The roof was fully engulfed.  I screamed for Larry, and then ran back inside to call 911.  I did figure that a call would have already been made, but one can never be sure, and better to be safe than sorry.  I may have only ever called 911 once before.  I can only imagine the feeling of panic if the emergency directly affected the caller or one of their family.  I had forgotten or hadn't realized that the call wasn't going directly to a centre in Abbotsford.  I was asked if it was fire, police or ambulance.  Then asked what city.  Then the phone rang and rang and the operator actually came back on to tell me it would be answered shortly.  Then again I was asked what it was for and it rang again. Some one answered and asked if it was the McTavish Rd fire and I said yes.  He asked if it was my barn and I said no.  All that seemed to take forever, much much longer than it took you to just read it.  I was feeling panicky with the waiting.  

Our closest firehall is a volunteer one, about 7 minutes away.  We could hear sirens coming from farther away and a slightly different direction. Probably the fully manned hall about 11 minutes away.   Lots and lots of sirens.  We couldn't see the trucks arrive because they came up the driveway out of sight on the left of the photos, and were on the other side of the barn.  

We eventually heard the water hitting the flames and the metal

I think the roof had already caved in by the time we got a good look.  These photos were taken from our back hayfield.  When things had burned down a bit we did get the odd glimpse of a ladder up high, and water spraying from it.

The barn was 180' long and about 40-60' wide.  It had been used to store machinery as far as we knew.  The other side is fully open down the length of it.  Since the cladding was all metal, we could not figure what was making it burn so hot and long.  It turns out that a lot of round hay bales were stored in there also.  Perhaps they were the cause of the fire.  We eventually wandered back to the house, and then after dark a massive light stand had been set up and it lit up the smoke cloud.  Apparently they stayed a long time to make sure that there were no hot spots left in the hay, and poured thousands of gallons of water on it all.

(I took the next two photos this evening because the ones I had taken yesterday morning were a bit blurry.)  But this is exactly what it looked like the next morning.  Not wisp of smoke to be seen. Nothing left of the barn except a bit of the north wall, and the row of concrete support beams that had held the roof up down the open side.

Apparently there had been a boat and a motorhome, a tractor and a hay mower in the barn, an lots of hay by the looks of it.

We were out for our morning walk with the dogs through our back bush.  We were getting close to the little creek and I could see a big white mass.  What on earth was it.  As we got to the creek where it tumbles out of a bit of a culvert into the little pool that Luna likes to dunk herself in, there was a massive foam sculpture.  The smell here was a very strong smokey/chemical odour. 
See Larry standing behind it, to give you a sense of the size of the thing.

When we crossed back over the creek further upstream, we could see blobs of foam here and there and again that strong smell.  I did contact the fire department to ask about the foam.  I was told that it was as environmentally friendly as it could be, and still do it's job.  Like diluted dish soap, vegetable based, no carcinogens, not a concern.  I mentioned the smell.  The environmental crew was coming out to check it out.  He mentioned the massive amount of water they had to pour on the hay to put the fire out, and all that water will be draining through the ground and some of it into the creek.  He said there may be a concern depending what was leaching from the barn.  The barn was originally built about 20 years ago as a place to do maintenance on a fleet of trucks involved with a carnival ride company.  The neighbours protested, so then they were only supposed to use it to store the trucks, but...who knows what went on in there.

And that other call I have made to 911...that was about 20 years ago, when the predecessors to the barn that just went up in flames....went up in flames also.  
It was about the same time of the day..a propane tank on a food truck from the amusement ride company somehow caught on fire, and we watched in horror as the flames leaped down the row of barns and destroyed them all.  Fortunately neither man nor beast was hurt in either fire.  There are different owners now.  I wonder if the barn will be rebuilt.  A large local farm was leasing the field and barn, and the house is rented out, and the renters do some horse boarding. Different people have leased the land over the years. Not all of them have been good neighbours.
The whole neighbourhood is changing.  Many of us are getting to that age, and with the booming property market, the For Sale signs are going up.

Okay, this is getting depressing.
I'll finish this post with something a little more light hearted. 
I'm filming this from the bathroom window. 
Luna and her young, but not so little any more, protege.
She has taught him well.  She did not teach him to bite a hole in the hose though.  He added that touch himself, at an earlier time. 

He won't be here too much longer, and I'll miss him when he goes.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tiptoeing Through the Tulips

On Tuesday evening we took a trip out to the Abbotsford Tulip Festival.  

Locals are able to visit on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for $2.72.  Just one person in the group had to present an Abbotsford drivers licence.  Meredith met us there after work, and we were shocked at how full the parking lot was at 6:30 pm.  It had been a lovely sunny day but clouds from the next rainy system had rolled in and it was dull and grey.

Those of a certain age may remember Tiny Tim and his horrible high pitched voice singing 'Tiptoe..through the tulips...' That was going through my head so this is us doing our own tiptoeing through the tulips...we had a good laugh!

It was a fair walk from the parking to the tulip fields.  I think they had to move them away from the freeway, as I seem to recall there being traffic jams on the freeway the previous year as people slowed down to look.
The pathway was lined with these crates of bulbs, which were for sale for $20 each.  There were easily 100 or more daffodils in each one, but a lesser amount of tulips.  They were heavy, so I'm not sure of the procedure if you actually did want to purchase one.  A wagon or wheelbarrow would have been needed to get them back to the car, and I didn't see any signs of either.

Many many years ago I went to Brownie camp somewhere on that mountain, probably the other side.

Rows and rows of beautiful tulips. People taking pictures every where.  Families all dressed up and taking pictures in the tulips.  Larry was asked to pictures of one family.  Young pregnant women posing in the flowers, and one young woman faking being pregnant, posing in the flowers. 

Tulips that didn't look like tulips

You could even take your dog(s).  Not that we wanted to take ours, but it would have been a good socializing experience for Tucker.

Lots and lots of tulips, and lots and lots of pictures taken.
(I'm warning you now ;-) )

Some oddball Dutch pretenders

And did I mention lots and lots of tulip pictures?

I really should have asked this lady if she would have minded posing in front of the pink tulips, as her outfit was a perfect match for the pink and green.


The u-pick plot near the end.  $1 a stem, which seemed expensive to me.  Some people were getting their money's worth by pulling the bulb out along with the flower.  

If the sun had been out, beautiful Mt. Baker would have been glowing with the last of the day's rays, above these hills.

At the very end you could purchase some perfect looking tulips, already cut, 10 for $5! By the time we got there, there were only a few bunches  left.
Was it worth going?
Most definitely!!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Daffodils And Some Big Decisions

Here it is the last day and April, and it's a beautiful Spring day.  Some sun and blue sky and big puffy clouds.  A bit cool and a bit of a breeze now and again, and a load of laundry hanging on the clothes line.  The perfect kind of day for working outside.  This morning I stopped and did some digging out of weeds in the north garden.  I want to get the dahlias planted there, or at least some of them, and I want to get it done in the next few days.  I am DETERMINED this year to get them in in decent time.  We have had so much rain that the ground there is still a bit wet in spots, but will mostly be okay.  

The daffodils have finished here, and my one little bunch of tulips is blooming.  The cherry trees, both ornamental and fruiting ones, are in full bloom.

The fellow up the road that is a daffodil grower breeder packed up his roadside stand earlier in the week.

We walk past there most evenings with the dogs.  This particular evening we had all four.  They get to go off leash on this quarter mile section, which is a road right of way.  The daffodil stand would be behind Larry on the other side of the gravel laneway.

That's our road on the left, and it makes a 90 degree turn here at the corner

There are lots of daffodil stands in our area, as we are a daffodil growing area, but this particular stand probably has the most wide variety of daffodils

Another half a mile away is this huge field of dying daffodils.  I think some years they are picked for the cancer sales.  This year the daffodils were late, and then all came on in a rush, so it was a big mass of blooming flowers.

The stand at the corner had a half price sale on bunches for the last few days.  For $3.75 I got this beautiful display.

As for big decisions.....well a while back I had to do a mass jam making session.  One of my fruit freezers decided to kick the can.  By the time I discovered it, everything was thawed out.  I discovered it in time to rescue some of the fruit, as there were still some clumps of ice in the freezer.  The problem is that some of the plastic bags of fruit tend to get small holes in them as them are moved around in the freezer.  So that fruit all leaked out of the bags and was a fruity mixed mess in the bottom, and useless to me.  I was able to salvage quite a few of the bags, and did a LOT of jam making that week.  One day as I was stirring, I thought to myself that I didn't really want to do this any more.  It's not that I haven't thought this before, but this time I am going to act on it.  I decided that next year I am going to phase out the jam making.  Maybe not all of it, but most of it.  After I have used up the fruit that will be carried over from this year, I'm just going to make jam if and when I feel like it.  
I have a feeling that there will be a lot of disappointed customers.

The other big decision is David's and he has accepted a good position in Edmonton, Alberta.  It is about a 12 hour drive or one hour flight away.  He set off yesterday in his land rover and will be arriving as I am typing this. He will be flying back in three weeks to attend his grad ceremony, and staying for the week, and then will be flying back again in mid June when Melissa has finished her work contract.  Then the big move will take place as there are two dogs and two horses going along as well.  We are looking after Tucker for a bit.  He may fly back with David after the grad week.  It all depends if David can convince his boss in the next few weeks to let him have a dog in his office ;-)

Things are changing around here.

PS  About 2 seconds after I hit 'publish' I got a text to say that David had arrived at his new accomodations!! A mother is always relieved that her kids (no matter their age) have made it safely.