Friday, December 27, 2019

Christmas Day at the Brandson's

It was a pretty low key Christmas in our household this year.  Just the four of us.  David made a rather treacherous drive from Edmonton, dividing it over late afternoon and evening of the first day, and all the daylight hours of the second.  The second day was bad, blizzards, stuck for an hour and a half at the summit of the highway, waiting for the road to be plowed and the semi drivers to get the chains on their trucks, which were blocking the road.  It was such a relief when he finally arrived at dusk on the Friday before Christmas.  

Christmas morning I was the first one up and wandered around turning on Christmas lights and snapping a few pictures.

The outside animals are all taken care of first, and then the dogs are fed, and then us.  We had some leftover chicken/bacon/sweet potato/onion/egg patties left over from supper the night before, and they made a nice brunch meal.

A few years ago we said we didn't want any more gifts.  We do fun little stocking stuffers, and of course there are random things I find at the thrift stores for a dollar or two that I think *may* be useful.

In the afternoon we took the dogs for a walk down on the dyke.  I thought that would be a good place to do our annual Christmas photo, and Larry insisted on taking the tripod, which in retrospect was a good idea.  ( I was coming up with ways we could manage without it).  By the time we got there the light was already fading.  Everyone else and their dog seemed to be there, so it took us a bit to get along to the swimming hole.  

These were the only three posed pictures taken, so I'm pretty happy they came out as good as they did.

Jake had had enough by this point.

Tucker even had an actual swim!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, full of love and laughter, with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Big Holes

Now that we are finished with the farmer's market for six months, we can get a few jobs done that have been waiting in the wings to be finished.  Because we are rural, we have a septic tank.  That said, we are on 'city' water though, so no well and pump to have to worry about.  When we bought this place in 1986, (wow, that's a long time ago), a new septic field was being installed.  We were good at getting the tank pumped out for the first while, and then it kind of got forgotten about.  I pushed Larry to dig the lid clear so we could get it pumped out this summer.  We did add to the height of the lawn in this area when we added on to the house.   

Anyway, Larry had a pretty good idea where it was, and did manage to hit concrete without digging a lot of useless holes.  I was shocked though, at how deep it now was, and how big the lid was, and how faulty my memory of it all was. I thought the top of the tank was much closer to the surface, an the lid much smaller!  The hole was about 20 inches deep and 30 inches square.  That was a lot of dirt to dig out, as seen by the three wheelbarrows full.  And then the job came to a halt.  We are both very good at letting things slide, and just ignoring the 'elephant' on the lawn, so to speak.  I think I finally nagged again and the tank was pumped out.  The Pumper Guy, yep that was what the company was called, told Larry that we could get a riser and lid to save ourselves all the digging the next time.  We decided to do it ourselves to save a few dollars, and the 'elephant' was there even longer.  Finally, yesterday, after much discussion over the size of the riser, exchanging the one Larry had first bought, overthinking the whole job, etc etc, we heaved the heavy concrete lid off for the last time, and installed the riser.  

So much fun, working over an open, full septic tank.  Yuk.  The base was sealed to the concrete around the hole, the first riser was screwed to the base, the second riser screwed to the first, and the lid screwed on top.  Happy to say that no tools or screws were dropped into the septic tank.  That was a miracle in itself.   At this point the hole still has to be partially filled in.  Of course not all the dirt in the wheelbarrows will be used.  I think the tires on two are flat, so we will have to bring the little compresser around to blow them up to move the heavy wheelbarrows, that are now filled up with rainwater.  The lawnmower may have to be brought out to cut the grass that had grown up under the wheelbarrows.  The lid will be pretty well level with the lawn, maybe a bit lower on one side.  In a few years it will be much easier to get the tank pumped again.

It was a relief to get out up to ground level and straighten up.  And I looked up, and wow, the sky was so cool looking.

It was already getting to that feeling that dusk was coming, so we got the dogs into the car and headed down to the dyke.  It was a beautiful evening with partially clear skies.  Down at the bottom of the hill I noticed these clouds, although I didn't take the picture until we had gone a mile and a half west to the dyke.  These are called Fallstreak Holes.  Here's an explanation.

The nearly full moon was rising to the east

I love taking pictures of sky and clouds.  It wasn't as dark as it seems, it was just the camera adjusting to the sky and making the trees appear dark.  Looking south.

Looking east southeast. Mt. Baker is just visible above the tree tops in the right quarter.

The holes are falling apart, but another one is starting to form.

Looking southwest.  I love reflections too!


Lovely sunset

Ground fog rolling in.  Time to head home, shower the funky septic smell away, and get ready for square dancing.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Kayaking at Crescent Beach

This is old news, but since it was our favourite kayaking trip of the year, I want to share it.  I think we did 6 or 7 kayaking outings this past summer.  We picked a new spot every time, except for one time it was just Larry and I on Tuc-el-nuit Lake in Oliver, which we've kayaked around before.

Anyway, lets talk about this trip.  It was the labour Day weekend.  The Monday.  Too busy with the market on Saturday and Sunday at that time of the year.  We knew we needed to get off to an early start, as being a holiday the parking lot would fill up quickly, and we needed to be able to park along the ocean front so we didn't have to carry the kayaks too far.  Meredith has a very cool little cart that comes apart and fits in her kayak, for her bigger, heavier boat.  Larry and I can carry our shorter ones together, one holding a bow handle in each hand, and the other holding the two stern handles.

We set off and there was still some sea mist hanging over the water.  That's the pier at Crescent Beach.  The tide was in.  That motor boat is following the marked channel out to the open strait.

Past the pier and paddling past the old summer cottages, many of which have been renovated into million dollar plus homes.  The water is shallow here, you can see rocks on the bottom if you look closely.

Once were were past the village, we were able to get quite close into shore.  We certainly didn't know that there was a clothing optional beach along that stretch.  Just something inherently funny about a fellow walking along wearing nothing but a backpack!

The sea mist couldn't make up it's mind as to wether is should burn off or not.  Herons on rocks were plentiful, but the zoom on my phone couldn't do them justice.

We kept saying 'just to that next point' and then of course there was another point, and another.  We did get far enough around that we could see White Rock in the misty distance.

That hazy, low lying piece of land in the left background is Cherry Point in the USA, near the border town of Blaine

And then the mist was gone, and it was beautiful.
Look at that clear water, it was fascinating to paddle quietly over it, looking for fish and sea creatures.

We could even pretend we were in Hawaii, just so beautiful!

Me.  I loved this so much.

Larry and Meredith

After we turned around we picked a spot to stop for lunch.  Of course we waved at the train engineer, as you are supposed to, and as kids have done for years from these beaches.

Fascinating rocks abounded.  Notice the big pumice type rock my collection is sitting on.  Maybe it's a relic from the eruption of Mt. Baker in Washington State?

On the way back, as the tide was rapidly retreating, we ran into sandbars, many sandbars.  I didn't take any pictures then, as we were too busy trying to push ourselves over the sand bars, often just a couple of inches below the surface.  The challenge was to not have to actually get out of our kayaks and pull them, but none of us were successful at that.  We did a lot of hysterical laughing as we pushed with our hands to try get past the sand and we kept heading out into the bay to find some deeper water.  It was mind boggling how far we had to go out.  We were almost at the dredged channel for the bigger boats.

Finally water deep enough to paddle in.

It was just the perfect day, honestly, I can't stop smiling when I think about it.  We vowed to go again, but hopefully pick a day when the tide didn't keep trying to strand us on a sand bar.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Fifty Shades of Brown and Grey

At the end of last week we went to Oliver.  It's been a long time since we have been able to go over a weekend, but since our farmer's markets are over the year, that option has been opened back up to us.  I also thought it might be easier for our lovely housesitter Meredith to be there on a weekend, when she doesn't have to dash off to work.

Unlike our previous trip in early October, we did not run into any snow, at all.  Just rain, and a fair bit of it until we got closer to Princeton, and into the drier climate of the Southern Interior of the province.  The sky cleared for a little bit, and I think that was the only bit of sun we saw for the whole four days, and we saw the most beautiful of rainbows.  I think you have to have a really good camera to pick up the rainbow colours well, and so my photos do not do it justice. Even though I played around a with them a bit to try make the rainbow glow with the vibrance we saw, I was mostly unsuccessful.

We were in Oliver for three nights.  It was mostly an uneventful trip.  The sky was gray the whole time, except for late one afternoon when it cleared off a bit, but the sun was behind the mountain by then.  We did lots of dog walks, like usual.  Maybe not as long as we used to, as Jake doesn't have the endurance now at 15+ years old, that he used to.  He tends to lag behind before too long, and we have to keep turning around to check that he is still coming.  And one time I turned Jake!  No point in calling him, as he can only hear you if you use the right pitch and is within a 100 feet or so. I started walking back, expecting to see him in the brush off to the side.  And I didn't see him, and then panic starts to build and the walking gets faster and turns into a jog, and then finally I spotted him, down the bank, chowing down on a dead salmon.  Bad dog Jake!  Well hopefully he didn't get much, and at least he didn't roll in it which might have been Luna's first choice.  

Even though the Fall colours had now just turned to fifty shades of grey and brown, the textures and lines were amazing.  The vegetation is so different to what we have here down near the coast, in our rainforest type climate, and I find it fascinating.

Milkweed pods drying up.

These almost look like withered grapes, but as far as I know they are the drooping berry clusters of the Smooth Sumac Rhus Glabra.  This spot must have got hit harder with some freezing weather than others.

I walked down the bank towards the river, and didn't even realized I picked up these travellers.  Thankfully not ticks, but a small flattened burr.  I left them until we were back at the car, and picked them off into the garbage.

Someone doing a little self promotion.  I thought there might be some bird seed in it, but no evidence of any.

And Luna, dear Luna.....if there is a prickly pear cactus to be found, she will find it! She couldn't move, as she had the cactus stuck to two feet.

The remnants of a wasp nest

A grove of cottonwoods with wood pecker holes

Walking north, south of Road 14

Looking southwest

Looking northwest

The cottonwoods from the other side of the river

I had to look twice at this....and then realized that was the name of the winery at the bottom of the sign.

Looking north

Looking south.  A couple of remnants of summer down there on the bank

Nearly 10 years ago, a small lake behind an crumbling earthen dam, broke free and roared down the creek bed (right in the centre of the picture, at the lowest spot of the foreground hills). It covered the highway and the orchards and roared toward the river.  The grass covered berm right in front of me is some of that mud and rock debris piled up.  There is really now no evidence that it ever happened, unless you know what to look for.

Well the close branch and the black berries were supposed to be in focus, not the other way around.  The silver foliage in the background was lovely though.  I don't know what kind of tree it was, but made me think of olives...

We had to wonder why these apples had been left.  If there hadn't been an 8' fence between us and them, we would have had a sample.