Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mid-December Report

It's snowing tonight. Big fluffy elephant-sized flakes. Winter solstice is fast approaching.

So what are we doing these days?


You may notice that there are a lot of books in this corner of the house: on the end table, the ottoman, the window ledge (two piles), the floor. You can't see the ones on The Husband's end table to the left of the photo, nor the pile (or two) ... well, let's just say that there is a lot of reading going on.


The Husband has decided that this is the winter to finally finish the second bedroom in the basement. It was always framed-in but the studs were covered with fabric. There are only three walls to do in here, and then the hanging ceiling. The outside wall has been framed out past the concrete foundation and insulated (the styrofoam insulation is at and below ground level) and he's started installing the drywall.

There's one more room to finish when this one's done - my sewing/weaving room. There is no window in that area as the wall is completely underground, or mostly - you can see where the styrofoam insulation follows the ground level. The yellow fibreglass insulation is what's also behind the pink batt in the first photo.

The Husband mounting drywall onto the studs. You can see the wall he finished a few years ago, all tongue-and-groove pine. When the walls are all done, he'll install the ceiling tiles.


Meanwhile, it's that time of the year. What time is that? you ask. Why, time to decorate the ficus tree. Isn't that what all of you do in late December?

The ficus loves this house and despite repeated trimmings, threatens to overtake the house on a regular basis. We're expecting a houseful of company for Christmas dinner so decided to forego installing a fir tree in the interests of better traffic flow.

Every year I squawk about decorating a tree, and every year I'm glad I did. I unpack the box of ornaments and memories flood over me: from childhood, from our children's childhoods, of places and people and so much love.

The moccasins that Marilyn made 30 years ago, recalling both a dear friend and a life made in the north; they remind me of our Kookum who taught me how to make moosehide moccasins and how to do beadwork, who made our children's first footwear - Cree wrap-up moccasins. 

These are tiny - about 4 cm long.

Another Marilyn ornament - baby Jesus in a walnut shell.

An angel made from corn husk, one of a fleet of angels that live throughout this house.

A tiny stocking The Son made in kindergarten or Grade One, 25 years ago.

A really tiny stocking, about 2 cm long, whose origins are lost.

One of the many antique glass ornaments.

And another.

Two more that bring back memories of my childhood Christmases. I remember glass balls with the concave centres, somewhat larger than these (or maybe I was just littler and they looked bigger); I'd gaze into the reflected centres and see magic.

John's angel. Our friend and riding buddy who died far too young. He smoked too much, had appalling dietary habits and was a left-brained neurotic, but he was our friend and we miss him.

One of two tiny Egyptian glass perfume bottles my Aunt brought home from a trip through that region.

A tiny knitted mitten, 4 cm long, origins unknown-forgotten, but still cherished.

A letter pouch that's been on every tree for 35 years. From who?


Cookies. Oodles and oodles of cookies. Whipped shortbread. Sugar cookies. Pinwheels. Haystacks. Butterscotch crunch.

"Who will eat them all?" asks The Husband.

Who indeed.


Working on a new roving of silk.

I'm hopelessly addicted to spinning silk. Winter is the time for silk, alpaca, cotton, angora - the fine fibres. Summer is when I spin wool, when the heat of the day softens the lanolin and makes the fibre work better.

In the winter, my hands are not so rough from garden work, so the fine fibres move easier through my fingers.

Whatever. I truly don't need an excuse to spend hours working with silk.

Have you found something enjoyable to make the winter days go by?

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Physics of Curling

"Smarter Every Day" is a fabulous series of videos. I love how I can learn more about science and technology without feeling like I've been 'dumbed-down' to.

Not sure how I came upon this particular video, but it's great! Of course, being a curler makes it cooler for me. What is particularly interesting is that Destin Sandlin, the presenter, is from Alabama - a place not known for its curling prowess. That Destin is cute, smart and personable is all bonus.

Take a gander and learn why curling looks easy but those of us who play the sport know how darned hard it can be.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Date Night Roller Derby

We've been together for 35 years but that doesn't mean we don't go dating anymore. Friends of ours have regular date nights, but we have a long-standing tradition of deciding on the way to an event whether or not this counts as a date. Automatic disqualification is any trip that involves grocery shopping, medical appointments or visiting relatives.

Last weekend we went old-school for a date and took in the season opener of the regional women's flat track roller derby league: 

This isn't roller derby like you might remember back in the day on TV. 
Best comparison is that the TV show is to roller derby as WrestleMania is to Olympic wrestling.

Here's a primer video:

And here's some of the action in Armstrong when the Farmers' Slaughters took on the Kootenay Derby AF:

What can I say? It was a hoot! Next bout is Dec 20 - be there or be square.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Winter Quail Station

California Quail thrive in Southern BC, despite being transplants. We do, however, make sure that there is sufficient feed available to enable them to get through the winter with relative ease. Sunflower oil seeds are the best, but we also provide mixed seeds with them.

Winter has come earlier, and it seems the main flock has moved onto our property for the season. They used to hunker in at a place down the street, only visiting us on their rounds, but the elderly couple who lived there have moved to a place better suited to their needs. 

There are over 60 birds in this flock: several mated pairs and their offspring from this summer. The are a bit flighty but comfortable around people. And they're so darned cute, who wouldn't go to the trouble and expense of keeping them around! There's always room for more when it comes to birds at our house.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Autumn and Giving Thanks

Halloween is just around the corner. I have some carving pumpkins outside on the veranda, yet to be carved. Today, perhaps.

True to form, Mother Nature has decided that autumn shall be the season of rain. And while we desperately needed the rain to replenish the depleted ground reserves, it's making a cool season into a distinctly chilly and unpleasant one.

The colours are up to top standard, however, so we'll give Her that. 

The Husband is home again after six weeks working up north. We went for a drive yesterday, exploring some back roads in Spallumcheen, up towards Sicamous. The sun was shining, making the maples, sycamore and other trees glow in their brilliant red, orange and gold foliage. Won't be long and the wind will scatter them in all directions.

Friends from Alberta were out for the Thanksgiving weekend earlier this month. I took them to a few wineries that Saturday afternoon, and we found the rainbow (above) on the Okanagan Reserve. Dramatic skies were been the order of the day.

Waffles are a breakfast specialty around here when there is company. Loaded with sliced fresh fruit, yogurt, maple syrup (real maple syrup - this is Canada, after all), even jam or peanut butter, it's a friendly way to start the day. That and a pot of strong black coffee.

Thanksgiving Day really is a holiday for family and friends. It's our annual reminder to give thanks for the bounty we've been given: love, shelter, food. I don't think we do that often enough. I know people who keep a daily Gratitude Journal. Despite the fact that I make my living as a writer, I am a terrible journal writer. I just can't stick to a daily diary or journal. I try to be mindful, however, of being grateful for the blessings I receive. A lifetime of harvests, sometimes after very difficult - even disastrous - growing seasons, keeps one aware.

Friday, October 6, 2017

It's been a busy day

I took the Spyder to Kamloops this morning, to have the service tech check the wheel balance and alignment. When I rode it yesterday, it developed a wheel shudder at 95 kmh which became ridiculous at 100 kmh. They got the problem mostly fixed with Liquid Tire Balance, but the truth is I need to get new tires on the front.

It was 7C when I left home. A few hours later, it was a 'balmy' 12C when I left Kamloops, quickly dropping to 9C when I reached the highest elevation point on the way home. I think the riding season is coming to an end for this year.

This is the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, so winter is close upon us (shhh! don't talk to the people in southern Alberta about the nasty blizzard they just got hit with a few days ago - they're a little cranky about it).

Driveway at the Middle Brother's place on October 3. I know.

The Daughter and her little one were over this afternoon, supposedly to help prep pumpkin for pies. We should have known better - a little guy of almost 11 months old is a perpetual motion machine. Unless he's watching The Wiggles, in which case he's concentrating with all his might.

It's The Wiggles.

When the turkey was ready for the brine - and don't ask what kind of language was clouding the kitchen when not one but two brining bags broke - The Daughter was helpful, both in manhandling the bird and calming down her mother.

Ready for brining. Mmmm.

Bought some pie pumpkins, cut one up into chunks and roasted them in preparation for making pies tomorrow. I know it's a Canadian/American thing but I think the rest of the world should get on board. Pumpkin pie is to die for! Right, Claudia?

Ready to be pureed and mixed up with cream, eggs, sugar and spices for pies.

In the meantime, a sofa fort appeared in the front room, perfect for a young fellow to climb and play hide-and-seek with his mom.

Sofa fort engineers.

Where did she go?

It's always interesting to have little people in the house. So lucky.

Watch your step.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September is my favourite month

I LOVE September. It's my favourite month. So much so that I closed the B&B for the entire month so we could "see the creature."

We travelled east on the first day of the month, on a day that would have been lovely had it not been so smoky.

Approaching Canmore from the west.

Started out on the 2nd with this crew of miscreants:

George McDougall High School Graduating Class of 1977
Turns out I wasn't the only one contemplating this event with a bit of trepidation, but it was all for naught. We had a great time reminiscing, catching up and generally having a great time. In the interests of full disclosure, I'm in the middle of the middle row, wearing a pink shirt. And you know what? In almost every school picture we had taken throughout the 12 years most of us were in school together, I'm in the middle of the middle row. Go figger.

From there, The Husband and I went on a drive through Montana, Idaho and Washington on our way home. I made a pilgrimage to the Charles M. Russell Museum, the great cowboy artist. And on the way, we enjoyed the splendor of the Lewis Range travelling towards the Judith Basin.

Coming to the border crossing at Waterton/Chief Mountain.

One of the Warrior sculptures, from a set of four -
one at each entrance onto the Blackfeet Nation.
Made of found and recycled materials

Big Sky country 
West of Missoula, coming to Lolo Pass. Scorched earth and a
very active wildfire to the west and north.

My favourite kind of sign ...
excepting we were in a truck instead of on bikes.

West on Highway 12, through Lolo Pass along the Clearwater River.
The Husband even agreed to stop at a quilt show in Wenatchee.

Not the first or last time that the GPS was less than help.
When taking back roads (paved and not), the road names would appear
but the little car wandered aimlessly in a vacant blue field.
Stopped to check out the Grand Coulee Dam. Photos cannot
capture the enormity of this structure. Breathtaking.

Upon arriving home, we had time to do laundry, go to doctors' appointments, celebrate
The Husband's current birthday and get him packed to head north for the next six weeks.
I stayed a few days longer and then travelled north myself, both to visit The Son and his family as well as celebrate our 33rd (official) wedding anniversary with The Husband and dear friends.

And this was what I drove through not once but three different places along the 950 km drive:

Somewhere on Obed Summit travelling east. In September. Sheesh.

And all that to see these people:

Miss A and Mr Z. Note the sunshine. And wind.

And their dad, The Son, at the Phillip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum.

And then it was time to drive home. Through the mountains. In September. Say "Aah."

And back home to spend time with these two:

And visit friends at Gallery Odin to survey the new stuff on offer for the winter season:

Life is good.