Saturday, May 23, 2009

Goin' Fishin'

It is finally fishing time! Oh yah, I know. You can go ice fishing, but really, the only reason for ice fishing is to catch really sweet walleye and whitefish (not whitebait, you kiwis - these are big hummers) and drink rum.

Fishing as it was practiced Thursday involved a nice little boat complete with captain, a BIG lake and lots of sunshine and blue sky. Truly, it was the first great day of the season and about time, says I.

Sister-in-law Flip, Tom Carson (aka 'the guy with the boat') and I spent a close to perfect day out on Shuswap Lake. Put in at Canoe (east of Salmon Arm) and worked an area roughly between Sunnybrae and Paradise Point.

It was different type of fishing than I've done before. My usual styles are casting, jigging and the time-honoured 'drop in a line with a chunk of cheese and watch the clouds drift by' technique.

Tom uses fly rods set with some nice spinners, feeds out about 30 or more feet of line and sets them at different depths, clamps the rods into brackets on the back of his boat and then trolls the lake. Works for me but Flip was fairly dancing out of the boat. She has to have a rod in her hand, casting and working the lure. Although a good day, I doubt she'll do this again. I foresee an early trip to Mabel Lake to try for kokanees and a sometime trip to Osoyoos for bass.

Caught a little rainbow early in the day and something bigger gave me some line play later in the day. Other than that, the fish simply weren't biting. All the little salmon fry are keeping their bellies full, I guess. Saw lots of jumping, some little kokanees porpoising along the surface at one point. "That's why it's called 'fishing', not 'catching'," said Tom philosophically.

Shuswap Lake

Just east of Herald Park, we saw a young eagle harassing a nesting pair of osprey. A short distance further, we found the osprey nest atop a tall dead pine, the fuzzy baby peeking over the edge of the nest. There were mergansers and mallards on the water. A great blue heron was working a shallow spot towards evening.

The day wrapped up with short ribs and beer at Garry's place (Flip's partner), then a run up to Tappen for ice cream and a quick hike up to Margaret Falls. Wow, that was worth the cold walk through the bush- with spring runoff beginning to peak, the falls were stunning.

Margaret Falls

Rodeo Recap

The 91st Annual Falkland Stampede was a success by all accounts. Oz Leaf (yes, his real name) said there were 4000 people through the gates on Sunday, the biggest attendance day. Weather was cool and overcast, but at least it didn't rain. And the cool weather didn't slow down beer sales. I helped at the beer gardens Sunday and Monday so I know wherof I speak.

Bryan's sister Dianna came out on Sunday, watched the parade with us and then the rodeo itself. Bryan and I watched the Saturday draw so between the two days I saw at least one go-round of all the events.

Work Reschedule - Again

Got a phone call from the office Friday morning. My coming week has been adjusted from 3-10's to 5-8's. One of our graphic designers also works in the plate room for the press (the magical place where our digital work is transformed into printing plates that fit on the big press drums). Some new work is coming on-stream and there are 'issues' with the process, so Michelle has been seconded to the press for the entire week and I'm to cover her desk in addition to my own stuff.

It's not the extra work that makes covering someone else hard - it's that everyone sets up their 'desktop' and files a little different from everyone else, to accommodate their individual work styles and the type of work they do. For instance, Debbie and I work on the same publication, using the same folders and file system. However, my desktop and hers look very different: where the icons are located on my screen, what icons are on my screen. So when I sit down at someone else's computer, I spend the first hour or so fumbling around, just trying to find things.

Why don't you just do their work on your computer, you ask. And a logical question it is. And it is entirely do-able except for one itty bitty detail: fonts. We don't have a common font book (although we are supposed to). If you know what that a problem that is, 'nuf said. If you don't, the explanation is long and tedious. Best just to let that sleeping dog lay.

Anyway, I get a full 40 hour week next week, which makes me and my bank account happy. Whether I get my full regular day back anytime soon is another thing. I'm enjoying the four day 'weekend' obviously, what with fishing and gardening and motorcycling. However, the girl has to have a means to pay for all this pleasure!

Playing on the Mountain

I had a great morning up on the west side of the mountain behind our house.

Hey, guess I should mention that Bryan's away! He took off Thursday to Calgary, hence to Edmonton for his follow-up appointment with the cancer specialist (two weeks following his scan: said Dr. Armani gave him a thumbs up and "see you in 6 months"), from there to Valleyview. He's up there for an undefined period of time - while the work is good, he'll stay.

His newly acquired macabre sense of humor is surfacing. "Your scans were clear?"

"Yep. Besides, if I'm going to kick it, I want to do it in the fall. Who wants to die in the spring when there's riding to be done?"

Right, should have thought of that. He's planning a ride up to Whitehorse for Andy's birthday at solstice.

Back to the mountain.

I drove up the Chase-Falkland road a few km's and turned right onto Arthur Creek Forest Service Road (FSR). It probably isn't on your road map but if you're so inclined, Google Maps will have it. Anyway, it's the back way to the Bolean Lake Plateau, makes a big swing around the north side once your on top and comes to Bolean Lake from the west.

I wasn't headed to the lake. I was looking for rocks. Of course. Big flat rocks. Cuz I'm gardening. To find big flat rocks you need to find a big steep rock face that's been cut through by a logging road. Arthur Creek FSR was one I hadn't tried yet and I wasn't disappointed, either by the haul of rock or the scenery.

It's a steep climb, about 1100m vertical gain in the 3km of road that I drove up. I didn't want to get too far because (a) the rocks I want aren't at the top and (b) the weight of said rocks adds to the downward propulsion going back, and that's not good for the brakes. Oh, and (c) I hadn't told anyone where I was and had a belated thought that if anything happened to me (what could happen?!) I was S.O.L.

I was directly across the valley from Estakwalan Mtn, so the scenery was spectular. The drive down was challenging - low gear, low 4WD and plenty of pull-overs to collect rock and give the brakes ample cooling time. I didn't heat them up .... well, maybe once but that's between you and me. I have high regard for the log truck drivers who regularly traverse those slopes with heavy loads and often icy surfaces.

The current rock project is a small retaining wall to create a level spot in the back northeast corner of the lot for our fire pit. Nothing permanent like a bike shed can go there because it's directly under the transmission line that cuts across the corner of our lot. Am I worried about stray electricity radiating from the line? Not really. It's not a major line, just a local supply line, and at my age, who cares?

To return, again, to the topic. I've built a low curve wall and am now filling the area with gravel, dirt and sand to bring it up level to the area 3m or so back. I'll take pictures, eventually, and post them.

Test Ride, Take 2

Meanwhile, I'd best get this show on the road. It's another glorious sunny day in paradise. I have a test ride in Vernon on a Gladius at 10am. Yes! A real Gladius. Looking forward to it. Again, so far as I know I'm the only woman in today's group. Having been successful on a serious sport bike last time, though, this one doesn't make me nervous at all. I'm quite excited.

Will take a run out to Lavington for lunch and then back to Vernon for a surprise 50th birthday celebration for one of my co-workers. How her husband is getting her out of the house to stage this thing, I do not know, but I'm gonna be there. She's very interested in the Suzi so I'd like to show it to her husband (he's a Harley boy) and maybe stir up some interest. It would be nice to give my old ride a nice home.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rodeo Time!

No time for detailed writing. Just a quick "Hi!" to say the kings of Pro Rodeo are in town and we're all having a grand time. I'm working in the beer garden. My arthritic knuckles are not liking the five hours they get repeatedly dunked into ice water to retrieve frosty malt beverage containers. Still, there are moments of pure silliness. One of the other ladies and I two-stepping behind the bar comes to mind - and we're not allowed to drink back there!

It's a few hours before my shift today. I'm watching the birds at the feeders. A lovely bright yellow goldfinch sat on the lowest branch of the fir tree and watched me for awhile - so birds people-watch? And the evening grosbeaks who put up such a racket every morning now have their bellies full and are somewhat more calm. What are they saying to each other, so loud and continually? It sounds like - why, it sounds like drunk buckle bunnies at a rodeo beer garden!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Zombies, Bikes and Hummingbirds

Note to self: No more zombie movies before bedtime.

Especially if it's the first night alone when Bryan's gone on a road trip.

Even if it is a spoof.

I became a Simon Pegg and Dylan Moran fan when I saw the movie 'Run Fatboy Run' (highly recommend it for pure fun). My daughter said I'd have to watch 'Shaun of the Dead', and so I did last night. Another funny one in a macabre sort of way. Didn't make me have nightmares, but very active vivid dreams that didn't make for a restful sleep.

I can't believe how much time's slipped way since I last had time to sit and write. It's gardening and motorcycling season, doncha know, and so every moment I'm not at work I'm outside.

Today is a beautiful day, and I mean that sincerely: grey, overcast and steady rain. Only a farmer or gardener can appreciate the beauty in that, when the earth is parched and even the little birds are sneezing from dust up their noses.

The rain also forces me to stay inside and attend to my neglected housework. Or maybe time to read. Hmm - decisions, decisions.

Jesse Cook

The concert on Thursday night was, needless to say, remarkable-fabulous-terrific-ohwow. We were second row - left from the stage, excellent seats. I must confess I was often distracted by Chris, the violinist - after so much concentrated effort this winter trying to learn correct bow technique, my eye was constantly drawn to him when he played. Of course Nick Hernandez's and Jesse's fingers fly over their strings, but without a hope of ever playing like that, the fascination isn't quite the same. But that bowing - that I could maybe do.

Test Flight

We went to Kamloops Saturday so I could take a bike for a test ride. The 650 Gladius wasn't in the fleet but they had an SV 650 that it was based on. I've always shied away from sport bikes because most of them are too high for my short wheelbase and the ones that aren't are just too stupid for price. Lately, though, manufacturers have evidently realized that not all riders have 34" inseams.

Anyway, it was hot sunny day, perfect for riding. Enjoyed lunch at a Greek cafe and then over to Rivercity Cycle for my 1:30pm spot. Learned I was the only female among the 2 dozen or so riders on the board, and apparently the only female who's ever participated as a rider, not a passenger. Ladies! There's nothing to be afraid of!

Spunky bike? Oh my. Up onto the highway heading east to Bernhardtvale, I almost lifted it up going into 2nd gear. Years ago that would have scared me; now I've got a big grin on my face. After the 30 minute ride, I knew I wouldn't ever go for an aggressive stance bike because my neck was tired from holding my head up at an angle. Very, very glad I did it, though, and now got the hunger. Suzi is sadly contemplating a new home.

Hummers of the Pretty Variety

The hummingbirds arrived here last Thursday night. Must have been a rough trip from Mexico ('flu?) because they're 2 or 3 weeks late. Anyway, I had the feeder ready and hanging for their return and we weren't disappointed. All 3 feeders have regular visitors. Lots of people around town also have their feeders out so I'm not tempted (yet) to hang more. In a few weeks, the hollyhocks and other feeder flowers will supplement their diet. I've only seen black-chinned and calliope hummers, but with luck the Anna's and rufous will be back.

Bird watching has been satisfying this spring. We've had some northern birds we're familiar with stop by the feeders on their travels from the southern wintering grounds to northern breeding areas. Others we've only had brief encounters with, like the goldfinch, are more regular customers here. The ground feeders: quail, Utah juncos, whitethroated sparrows - are loving the junipers we planted along the west side of the house where the feeders are. They are here much more often and take advantage of the cover when the hoodlum crows show up.

And as I write, there are hummers perched on the feeder just the other side of the patio doors on the barbeque deck, taking long drinks. Those raindrops must feel like boxer's punches, or do they dodge the raindrops?

Gardening, oh my

I'm not quite so rabid this season as I was last. Remember, though, that I was late to the start only arriving to stay on 25 May and looking at a completely barren landscape. This spring there's time to look and contemplate. There is greenery in place and most of last year's labour has paid off.

The patch out back that I worked on for several days turning over with a fork is mostly planted. It's full of herbs, some perennials from up north I heeled in last summer (my test plot as it were) and some veggies: carrots, lettuce, onions, garlic and a few potatoes. Just waiting, perhaps this weekend, to put in beans and a few tomatoes. Adrienne and Ken built two raised beds and put in several tomatoes among other things. I laugh and tell people I don't need to plant fruit trees and tomatoes - Adrienne did! And she laughs, too because we both know there's the potential to provide more than enough for the both of us.

Bryan's mom got an early Mother's Day gift. I bought flats of shade and partial shade annuals in Vernon, and then last Friday we drove to Revelstoke to work her beds. She'd done the one in front of her house under the kitchen window, but her bad knees make the work slow and digging next to impossible.

I dug up her large bed at the bottom of the backyard under the cherry trees. It isn't very big, or at least compared to the area I have here, but the perennials were rootbound and needed to be lifted and split; likewise an area up front where there were tiger lilies and siberian iris.

Once things were all ready, I put in fibrous begonia, red variagated coleus, lots of pansies (mostly deep red and yellow whisker-face) and trailing lobelia of various colours. Phyllis and her partner Garry helped turn over some of the shallow beds and remove some encroaching turf. And then of course it was time for beer because it was a hot, sunny day and we'd worked hard.

I brought home some of the spoils of the day for our yard and to share with Adrienne - tiger lilies, yellow lilies, siberian iris, peonies and some mystery plant that's in a quarantine spot (I have extensive experience with mystery plants gone amok- Jerusalem artichoke is on my 'never again' list).

Now that I can see what survived a hard winter (hard for zone 4/5 that is) and what's thriving, I know what to purchase to fill the spaces. More soapwort and Russian sage for the slope below the driveway. Also verbena and heliotrope (I know they're annuals but heliotrope is so lovely and incredibly aromatic). More coralbell and phlox for the hummers and butterflies.

Of course, there's always room for new experiments and I'm thinking a couple of yucca plants would look good down at the bottom of the front yard, ney?

Several neighbours laid sod this past weekend (or are in the middle of laying sod - can't make good progress if you don't start until noon!!). Our farmer blood leads us a different route. Besides planting far more perennials and shrubs than most to fill the space and my heart, we are spreading mixed forage seed on the ground like we did up north. The mix of fescue, brome, timothy, clover and whatever else they use here is much hardier than Kentucky bluegrass. It doesn't make a pretty carpet lawn but it does make a tough, resilient, low-maintenance cover.

Soapwort - ugly name, lovely plant

Parting shot:

Did you hear about the big fire in Calgary last weekend? Yep, one of the golf courses in the city.

There was a Flame on every green!!!