Monday, May 29, 2017

Graduation Day!

Life seems like it has been pretty hectic lately.  The farmers market season is in full swing, and the first four have been very good. Finally we have been getting some good weather, days of it in a row, and no rain, and the ground has dried up, the weeds are knee high to a giraffe, and EVERYTHING needs doing yesterday.  So we keep plugging along....

Last week we made a dash for Oliver on Monday evening and came back Wednesday evening.  Our last chance to take advantage of David as a house sitter.  He has been in Edmonton since the start of the month, but took the week off, since Monday was a holiday and Thursday was his graduation day and he was flying back for that.

Meredith travelled in to Vancouver with Larry and I, we left about 9:15 for the 11am ceremony.  It was supposed to be a 9am departure, but someone didn't get themselves here on time ๐Ÿ˜‰(Look out, I've just learned how to add emojis to the blog!)  Google told us it may take up to an hour and 40 minutes, depending on traffic of course, but we did it in an hour and 15, the parkade was right next to the Chan Centre and we made it in good time.  We connected with Melissa and got our seats.  The lighting in the room was not conducive to good photos.

This particular ceremony was for Forestry and Kinesiology students.  The grads all filed in and filled up the chairs on the stage and then the seats down in front.  We got a good view of David because he and a few others went up onto the stage and then found out that there was no seating left so had to walk back down and he ended up fourth from the left on the front row.

That is Simon, the head of the department, holding the big wooden mallet thing, that had Haida carvings on it. I asked David about it and he seemed to know nothing. The grads receiving their doctorates were called up first, and then those with masters degrees, and then the bachelors degrees. Like all grad ceremonies it was long and a bit boring, but better than the high school grad.  The speeches were not too long and mostly interesting, so all in all it wasn't a chore to be there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Where I was sitting, I wasn't able to see the grads as they first entered the stage, so missed David's name being called, but did catch him crossing the stage.  We even made a bit of noise for him, and that was a big deal for me, as I am not a screamer at public events.  Each Grad was given three tickets for family, and then on a certain day extras came up for purchase.  Those all sold out in an hour and David missed out.  Fortunately one of his friends was not attending so shared his three tickets and David was able to get one extra.  If he could have got more  tickets, Melissa's parents and grandpa would have attended as well.

David Brandson
Bachelor of Science, with honours, Wood Products Processing
Winner of the Charles Larre Memorial Graduating Prize
awarded to the most outstanding graduating student in Wood Products Processing

With Melissa

Proud parents๐Ÿ˜€
I like to think David inherited my brains, haha, but he definitely inherited my eyebrows!

With Meredith, his sister

Unfortunately I didn't realize as I was kneeling on the ground (see my knees?) to set up the camera on a wood rail, that the filtered sunlight was hitting the lens slightly, so we look a bit 'misty'.

With Associate Professor Simon Ellis, program director, Wood Products Processing, and the 'mallet', and Santa Ono, the President and Vice Chancellor of the University of British Columbia.

David even left a bit of a legacy.  Because of his internship with Rolls Royce in England for one of his co-op terms, Rolls Royce and the Co-op Coordinator have been in discussion, and Rolls Royce is interested in more Canadian students coming to work for them.

There was a reception afterwards in the Forestry building.  We got there in time to grab a bite to eat, and then it was time to head out, as coincidence would have it, Larry had an appointment at the eye specialist about 20 minutes away.
Of course it took more than 20 minutes to get there, so we dropped Larry off and Meredith and I went to a grocery store to get something for the barbecue at Melissa's parents house afterwards.  We sat in the car for a while in the free parking, and then my phone rang and it was the doctors office looking for Larry.  This was nearly an hour after his scheduled appointment time.  I had this vision of him having passed out in the lobby, but it turns out they had just 'lost' him in the waiting room.  So in the meantime we went to another grocery store and then searched for free parking.  Managed to find a spot and waited for Larry to text that he was done.  We finally left Vancouver about 4 pm and we were in rush hour traffic so didn't get back to our place until after 5:30.  Our poor dogs got a quick walk and were fed and then we left again for the barbeque.  A nice time was had by all, we got back home and took the dogs out again for a walk. Phew, we had spent the equivalent time in the car as the four hour trip to Oliver.
Oh, and Larry's eyes are excellent, as they continue to recover from the epithelial cell transplant needed because of Fuch's Dystrophy.

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!!