Sunday, June 28, 2009

Road Trip through Paxton Valley

On Saturday, I packed a small picnic lunch, dug out my old digital camera (verging on the brink of antique, as photo quality here testifies to) and went on a backcountry road trip. This time I hunted up the Paxton Valley Road, one that traverses the land north of Estekwalan Mountain from Monte Lake to the Chase Falkland Road.

I met the PV road midway by travelling up Six Mile Creek Road. The following are some of the photos I took along the way, before the camera died on me (should have charged the battery a bit longer!).

Finding the Paxton Valley Road where it joins Six Mile Creek Road. I turned west (left) towards Monte Lake.

Looking south towards the north face of Estekwalan Mtn. The hazy sky is due to a forest fire away to the northwest.

It's not exactly a high-speed road but I was meandering anyway. This is one of the better pieces of road.

The road would pass through heavy bush, break into open cleared pasture land or natural open places, and then plunge back into the bush. Lots of dead pine, victims of mountain pine beetle, like the reddish brown ones on the left side of the road ahead.

There aren't many residences along the way, although much of it is pasture land. There are still working corrals where I found the remains of this homestead log house.

First, looking southeast over the open land towards the northwest face of Estekwalan, the house remains in the foreground.

Below the house, looking north.

The corrals to the left of where I was taking pictures of the log house, looking west down the valley.

Attempting to get artistic with a camera, framing the mountain behind through the window. If I tweak it with my photo program, it might work. Hmm.

Looking back east at the far end of Paxton Valley. The hazy sky means no shadows, no sense of direction, rather disconcerting.

From here, the road goes back into the bush for a ways until travelling through Crater Lake Ranch land, then a steep 13% drop coming out alongside the Monte Lake store on Highway 97.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Afternoon

Quick note while I'm on-line. Was looking at air fares to Grande Prairie for a weekend visit with the kidlets and a ride home with Bryan. Then he tells me he might be done up there before the end of the month. Planning anything in my life....phut.

Drenched myself in bug dope and been weeding the herb garden out back. After the torrential rain of two nights ago, the ground is soft and weeds are coming up intact, mostly. Pulled up the four small fir trees that didn't survive transplanting. Contemplating replacement - another try at firs or perhaps the pink spirea I bought at the Art Knapp plant sale? Oh come on, I know I said no more plant purchases, but 2 for $14 when they're regularly $12.99 each?!!

When I (a) find my camera and (b) find the battery charger for it, and (c) hopefully get the card reader to work on this computer (my last attempt ended in an evening's worth of fun updating all my drivers) I will post picks of the garden, in answer to popular request (OK, just Beth, but the rest of you will look at them, too). Ever a work in progress, I'm still quite proud of how it looks today compared to this time a year ago (barren wasteland of rocks and straggly weeds).

The new work assignment is going well, once I settled into a routine. My batteries were pretty low by mid-afternoon Friday, though, so have been using my solar charger all day today. Just finished my coffee - took a break because, after all, it is Saturday - and am back out to see what new trouble I can get into.

Can you tell I'm studiously avoiding the pile of accounting covering most of the desk over yonder?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Watching the Storm Clouds Build

Literally, not figuratively.

The high temperatures recently combined with moisture coming over the mountains have made for an unsettled weekend weather-wise. I came home Friday night through a series of slam storms - one minute dry, around the corner and SLAM, rain so heavy the wipers couldn't keep up.

Got in some riding Saturday. To Kamloops up Highway 97, destination Rivercity Cycle to pick up Guzzi parts for Bryan. Took the long way home along the TransCanada Highway, stopping in Sorrento for lunch and then a detour to Carlin Crossing Water Gardens, halfway between Sorrento and Salmon Arm. It's a nursery/greenhouse that specializes in ponds and water features. Oh, the inspiration! Oh the temptation!! Oh, the budget-destroyers!!!

Advantage of travelling on a motorcycle: limited cargo capacity. Disadvantage of travelling on a motorcycle: ditto.

I did my recycling today, which necessitated a trip to Vernon. It was long overdue, though. The bins were full to overflowing - been a few months since I did this task. I suppose it's a testiment to our attention to these things that means I don't have to do the run more often but it eventually does have to be done. Loitered on the way home, stopping at 'wishing' places along the way ("Wish I had time to stop there.") Found a bamboo spout/water pump assembly for a reasonable cost and built a water feature on the veranda using one of my large ceramic crocks. There - temptation temporarily tamed.

It's also a small reward for a success at work. I've been reassigned within the composition department, bringing me back up to a 40 hr week (Yah!) over a five day work week (sigh), hours 8:30 - 5 (small hurray - time for waking up, time for breakfast, better opportunity for motorcycling to work).

The pros outweigh the cons and so I'll stop snivelling about the loss of my three day weekends, spoilt child that I am.

Biggest loss is the opportunity to grab a five-day holiday from the upcoming July 1 stat and running up north to see the kids. That is a profound disappointment. The August long weekend is no consolation because Marlon and Krista are heading out to Winnipeg 1st August.

My primary work is now production for a small weekly that Black Press owns (full spectrum work, from ad design to pagination) and pagination for our tri-weekly regional paper, The Morning Star. No more graphic design for real estate, but still doing ads for one of the sales people and helping the others with their overflow.

Bryan called tonight. Looks like he'll be coming home next weekend; he's caught up with jobs there and wants to get ready for a ride with Gerald down the Coast Highway through Oregon and northern California. BIG sigh - I've wanted to do that trip for years. That and one day getting to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Those two destinations have been delayed for 25 years and I'm beginning to think I'll never get to either.

I have to remember Bryan is the semi-retired one. I'm still the working grunt.

This working for a living certainly interferes with life, doesn't it?

On the positive side (balance in all things, remember), my infant perennial plants are already giving me joy. Blooming at the moment: irises (both Siberian and bearded) columbine, meadow rue, lupin, Persian yellow rose, soapwort and lavender, snapdragon, diathus, trollius, and verbena. Astilbe is coming along nicely as is mugwort, hosta, heather, knautia and many others. The wigelia I'd given up on jumped to life and to flower almost simultaneously. The walnut trees are slowly but surely leafing out.

The quail are claiming our yard as their own. One audacious male flies up onto the wood birdfeeders to scout the territory, keeping his hen safe. Chicks must soon be on their way - I'm surprised not to see any before now.

Clouds of voracious mosquitoes and clouds of rain are both gathered outside. Life-giving rain. You can take the girl off the farm, but you can never take the farm out of the girl.

Happy week to you all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Been watering some part of the yard every night. The grass seed sown around open places is coming along fine. It isn't turf, of course, but in time it will be a nice cover.

Spoke to Bryan on the phone recently. He said it's been bitterly cold, and crop is not sown/frost damaged and needing to be re-sown/not coming along.

"How's my lawn doing?"

"OK. Looks like a hair transplant on a bald man's head."

He laughed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Just Being at Home

That's a rare-enough occurrence these days: me, at home, not going anywhere other than down to the local store for a jug of milk.

Home-time was badly needed. My work schedule has been shifted from four (or three lately) 10 hour days to a regular Joe schedule of five 8 hour days. And so nothing seems to get done at home! or at least in the house.

I come home, trade in civvies for gardening togs and am outside until it's dark. Being inside all day at work makes me squirrelly. I was gone all last weekend, running a training session for a small local newspaper in the morning, then a ride out to Revelstoke to visit Bryan's mom.

So yesterday was 'get my life under control' day. Laundry. Laundry. Dishes. Cleaning. Visit a neighbour (yes, that is very important). Vote (for a new mosquito control program bylaw - I voted no, despite hating skeeters, for many good reasons). And still managed to get in some garden time.

Bryan's still up north. Sounds like for several more weeks. Talked to him on the phone one evening and he said there was lots of work coming along. Hoped to get the power hooked up from the transformer to the house at the place we're selling. Fixed the garden door deck, damaged by heavy snow over the winter with no one to clear it off and reduce the weight.

I've got another two weeks of adjusted schedule coming up - covering designers off on vacation or seconded to the plate room. Friday was moving day - the entire sales/design floor was stirred up in a new layout. All the designers are now at one end, all the sales people to the other. I was genuinely afraid of at least one blow-up but was relieved none occurred.

In fact, there was a great deal of laughter, and several aloud comments of "So THAT'S where that thing went" or "I forgot I had that" as drawers were emptied, desks moved and dirty dusty corners revealed. A lot of junk piled up in corners was removed (and what a relief for those of us who hate that) and neglected items dealt with.

The area now has a more open, clean feel, "lots of dancing room" was one observation.

Anyway, I mention work only because it impacts my plans for the rest of my so-called life. If Bryan is in Valleyview all of June, I'd like to get up to visit him. Also desperately want to see the kids and wee Abby.

My mom is planning a visit at the end of the month, flying out from Calgary to Kelowna. Then 1st of July (Canada Day, statutory holiday) is on a Wednesday, so if I'm back to my regular cutback schedule, I could leave that day to drive north and come back on Sunday.

There's a woman in Valleyview interested in buying my bike, and if she does then the working plan is to ride the bike up and then return either with Bryan or by plane. All very loosey-goosey. Typical.

Dark clouds are building outside. Perhaps we'll get some badly needed rain. We had temps in the 32C to 36C all last week, and that baked an already very dry land. BC already has several bad wildfires. Alberta, on the other hand, has had abnormally cold weather (I heard there was snow in Red Deer Thursday!) so I won't complain.

The yard is coming along nicely. Lilacs are blooming, as are iris, columbine and meadow rue. The lilies are budding and several others filling out wonderfully. The few annuals I put in to fill the spaces (pansies, stocks and snapdragons) are added early colour.

I haven't bought any plants for weeks now. I know! And it's true. There's a temptation to overplant perennials and I know full well that they'll fill in soon enough, with time and patience.

The big job now is weeding, and that's always an especially hard task in a new garden (remember, this is my third garden built from scratch). Not only do existing weeds need to be removed but the seedbank in the soil also needs to run its course. There are some very nasty and persistent thistles in this area, an aggressive clover-looking plant that quickly strangles everything else in its area and one of my personal hates - goat's beard - all to be eradicated.

One of my college botany instructors said that a weed is simply a plant out of place. I don't want those plants in this place, and they stubbornly refuse to comply with their eviction orders.

Will keep you posted on the battle.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I am licensed to drive a motor vehicle.

I am licensed to drive a motorcycle.

I used to be licensed to drive large tandem-axle trucks, but I don't need that anymore, so now I'm not.

I may have to get a boat operator's license in order to rent a b-b-b-b-b-bass boat.

I have a fishing license.

I used to get a hunting license every fall but we don't need moose meat to feed our family anymore, so now I don't.

I never had a trapping license but I still set traps to catch weasels and minks that would otherwise violate my henhouse. Likewise, I shot beavers with impunity.

I was co-purchaser of a marriage license, good for two weeks until traded in for a marriage certificate. I still need to pull out the certificate to prove I'm also the person on my birth certificate, in order to complete various and sundry legal hoop-jumps.

I didn't need a license to be born or give birth. Go figure.

I have free license to enjoy myself so long as my activities and pursuits do not impinge upon the rights and freedoms of my compatriots.

Alas, I do not have a Double-O-Seven license to kill.