Sunday, 30 December 2007

Winter's Wonderland

We've had a week full of winter activities and I need to include this photo to make everyone aware that the sun can actually shine in the Kootenays in December! This picture was taken on Christmas Day at the lake near Fletcher Falls. We had an early morning walk there (well 10 o'clockish) before opening presents. A quick trek to the inukshuks (sorry no good photos in that light) and the beautiful Fletcher Falls themselves rounded out the a.m. journey. Other activities this week have included a few hours of back country skiing on my new touring skis while I break in the boots. On the 23rd we all spent the day at Whitewater Ski Resort so I had a chance to use the skis as downhillers. The skis are way too advanced for me and my son-in-law refers to them as "boats" but they do manage powder really well. We're also getting out the snowshoes and enjoying the deep snow pack only 15 minutes from home. I used to only get to do those winter wonderland walks a couple of times a year and now they are becoming a daily ritual. So good to spend some time within a Robert Frost poem.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

pro on pst

We're almost to the shortest day of the year - I think it's only two days away! We are really into the darks in this part of the world and it's partly because we live on the eastern edge of the Pacific Time Zone. Across the lake, the good citizens have opted to go onto Mountain Time and they get to be light until 5:30 p.m. while we have the dark totally descend by 4:30 p.m. As well, we've had 8 days of very low cloud and I've missed seeing "my mountains" - the amazing Purcells across the lake. In this kind of weather - lots of gray cloud against gray rock and a somewhat gray lake I'm supposed to call it silver - it's a silver day, as my walking friend Candace remarks. I'd have to say that I'm generally pissed right off on pst in the winter, but the good things are that it's light at 7 a.m. when I usually get out of bed and I get to put the Christmas lights on in the middle of the afternoon. Somehow, I think NOT having a picture accompany this post really suits the mood of it.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Taking On Bragging Rights

My daughter, Andrea, never gets around to blogging and after our phone conversation last night I figured I'd take on the task of bragging to the world about her latest race results. Going to Las Vegas seemed an odd choice for Andrea and Demitri but they went with more of their athletic friends and celebrated one of the clan turning 30! Can a 30 year old run a marathon must have been the cause? Andrea entered into the half-marathon (as a mere 27 year old) in Las Vegas and had great results - she was 41st out of 4, 776 women and 9th out of 806 women in her age group. You go, girl!! Demitri did the full marathon and finished in 3:03 - will the next step be Boston?

Friday, 30 November 2007

A Bridge With A View (and a Roof!)

The Kaslo pedestrian bridge has not yet officially opened but on Wednesday this past week, I crossed it with the Wednesday Walkers. We did have to pass underneath a scaffolding and there was a generator making a bit of a racket, but we could do the Kaslo River "circuit" for the first time. The picture of the roof at left was taken last Friday and the small creature you see on its top is Silvio, kind of the energy behind Kaslo Trail Blazers. He's also a baker so he gets up early, gets all the bread and buns made and then comes to work on our bridge for the rest of the day. Luckily for him, it's dark by 4 p.m. so he does get to quit early! He has done an unimaginable amount of work towards the completion of this project. The middle picture is taken from the bridge looking straight down but the most treacherous water is actually right underneath the bridge. A new friend, Catherine, took my picture this a.m. on the bridge as we did the circuit, and yes, that's sunshine in the background, messing up the exposure. Today was actually a real winter's day in the Koots - we had a temperature of minus 10 and I think there was something that might even be considered a windchill. However, the blue sky backdrop to the snow-capped mountains make it 'very heaven'.

Three Cheers for AA!

I simply have to report about my passport. I sent it away on October 15th and was told by my MP's office that they would work on it to ensure delivery in 6 weeks. It arrived in the mail today! So let's hear it for my MP, Alex Atamanenko, NDP for B.C. Southern Interior, and his staff. We had really good results by calling his staff in Ottawa, who promptly returned phone calls and told us that everything had arrived safely in the mail in the early stages. I noticed a couple of weeks ago that more passport clinics were being made available in Castlegar because of the heavy demand, but it was another case of "first come, first served". It's not every day that one's MP does something for an individual constituent but I have to say that AA is a man of his word on the passport issue.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The Clothesline Speaks

Last week on The Current there was a bit of a debate about clotheslines. I find it odd to read about how hanging out clothes is the latest environmental fad and smile to myself every time I see it in a "going green" article. I come from a family of clothesline users. It interested me to hear how many subdivisions in North America ban the use of clotheslines. Apparently people feel that it undervalues their property if washing is on display. Of course there are plenty of clothesline users who defend its use and speak about the beauty of clothes on a line and the joy of being in nature while doing the laundry task. I haven't hooked up our clothes dryer yet (well, bugged Dave to do it) and the item pictured here is one of my indoor clotheslines. Alas, I have to move indoors this week as the temperature has not been over zero and the sun is too low to reach my outdoor clothesline. With the woodstove going in the basement the clothes dry in a reasonable amount of time. I inherited this little clothesline from my exchange partner in IOM and it works quite well. I used to love seeing clotheslines in IOM - everyone uses a clothesline over there (with the wind the clothes dry quickly) and from the vantage point of a double decker bus it was always enjoyable watching laundry showing off in the brisk breezes. If any readers are doubtful about clotheslines, I say give it a try. Hanging laundry is my favourite household task.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Dignity in Death

B.C. news media is full of the taser incident. This morning, I heard a woman from Kelowna being interviewed about how her husband had been tasered a couple of weeks ago. This was apparently done in an argument over a traffic violation. The entire interview seemed to focus on what the police had done and how distraught her husband is now. I really wish the interviewer would have taken the time to ask the woman what her husband had been doing to warrant this kind of behaviour from the police. She also reported that she could only "watch the taser video once". At this point I had to turn off my radio.

I'm not trying to defend the police in any way about the incident at Vancouver airport. However, right from the beginning I've had to question why someone would even begin taking pictures of someone in distress. Everyone that I say this to replies: "Well, I'm really glad he did." In this case, some awful truths will come out. I continue to question what prompts people to take pictures of violent incidents and people in distress. Is this for the "15 minutes of fame" that might come their way?

Another thing that is bothering me about this incident is that the police are really coming out as "bad cops" in the British Columbia media. It does seem that there are many deaths of individuals while in police custody in this province. I've read enough novels to know that there are plenty of "bad cops" out there, the same way that there are bad teachers, bad lawyers, bad professors and bad librarians. Personally, I've never met a bad cop. The police have to do a pretty thankless job and I'm glad that they are here. Most of them are doing a great job and are truly helpful. It's been a hot topic of discussion in our household and an alternate point of view can be found at:

My next concern is the viewing of the video. I have refused to watch this and so far have only met one other person who feels as I do. I think if we really want to do something "positive" in this unhappy affair is to give Mr. Dziekanski some dignity in death and refuse to watch his execution.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Bridge Over the River Kaslo

At long last the bridge was put into place over the Kaslo River on Wednesday. It was a cool and brisk day and ironically enough, I ended up working in a grade seven class all day and missed the big event. It was pretty much a non-event because it had been postponed so many times. The machine pictured here is the "yarder" and it is still hauling materials into place but it was vital to the input of two large steel beams that are the base of this bridge. This has been a massive project and the bridge was assembled on land as the painting was completed, each piece was numbered, and then the structure was disassembled. The yarder dragged the base pieces into place and now reconstruction is underway. You don't really get a sense of the depth of the chasm over the river here but it's a pretty impressive looking bridge, I must say. The uprights, painted in violet, will have large roof trusses put on them. These are also violet in colour. The plan is to have a green metal roof. Watch this blog for further updates.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

The Poppy Blows

This may be considered to be a bit of a brag, but it isn't really. My Icelandic poppy has really struggled through much of the year. I had a few nice flowers early in the season with some great colours. It wasn't long, however, before something was eating all the buds and later, anything that did open was pretty much insect damaged. This little guy opened four days ago. So to all my prairie readers, yes, it is pretty awesome to have a poppy blooming in the garden on Nov. 11. I also have a Japanese anenome that's in bloom and one very small heather. This just seemed like a suitable post for Nov. 11 and made me think of the poem even though I only have one lone poppy.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Bonfire Night

It's Guy Fawkes Day in the UK and I fondly remember that day while in IOM. The children were excited about it, but not in that over the top Hallowe'en way that North American kids demonstrate. I was invited to go to a bonfire night potluck at a place just outside of Douglas, the largest city in IOM. The wind was blowing fiercely (like it often did on that unprotected isle in the Irish Sea) and we'd had a pretty dry fall for the UK. I don't think anyone from the prairies would ever have contemplated starting a bonfire in these conditions. However, one was lit and no damage done. The other thing that really struck me about that night was the total blackness of it - away from the bonfire absolutely nothing was visible. So what does this picture have to do with Guy Fawkes? Well, I took this picture last week and I named it a horticultural apparition which made me think of effigies, Guy Fawkes, etc. This one is a pretty useful apparition, I must say, and here it is doing the last till of the garden for 2007. We're ready for winter, we think!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Graves in the Forest

This afternoon, Dave and I went to Ainsworth and hiked to the Ainsworth Historical Cemetery. The gates pictured here show the roadway out of the cemetery and many of the graves have these white picket fences around them. I like the historical marker, located slightly away from the "consecrated" graves. Here lie the remains of 5 suicides who were not allowed to be buried in the other part of the cemetery. The last one was laid to rest here in 1917.
Exploring a little further, we found a trail called the Cedar Creek Trail and could have gone on for ages but had a nice walk to the creek and past lots of mining tailings and equipment. I can't think of a better way to spend Hallowe'en than visiting a graveyard and its environs. Can you?

Saturday, 27 October 2007

What's In A Name?

I head originally intended to write this post about unusual ways to get to and from work. I remember having to pinch myself when in the Isle of Man - that actually was the Irish Sea that I was walking beside and that actually was a steam train that I was taking home from work! Yesterday, for the first time, I had a 40-minute ferry ride to get to work. Yes, I was called to TOC (Teacher-on-call) at Crawford Bay. I was grateful for the full moon because it made for a pretty bright morning - to get to Crawford Bay for work at 8:30 a.m. I need to be on the 6:30 a.m. ferry because the next one doesn't go until 8:10. The full moon lit up the boat's wake in a very romantic way and the rising light gave an eerie silhouette to the Purcells as we made our way to Crawford Bay. Sorry, I forgot to bring the camera with me. It was a cold morning (just below zero) and fortunately one cafe was open so I could read my book in relative comfort while waiting for the school to open.

So what's in a name? Well, in the grade 4 - 5 - 6 class there's a pair of twins (male) with the names Sunny and Rainbow. They have an older brother with the name of Sky. Only in the Kootenays, one might say. Is this Hippieville, or what?

Sunday, 21 October 2007


I got thinking today about Louis Sachar's novel, Holes, because a big part of my life has been about digging them, and now, filling them. I think I've dug 14 holes for our deck posts and then did four more for the garden shed that we put up this summer. I must say that those four were the easiest holes to dig on this here acreage!
We've had a big hole at our water connection ever since we moved here and last month the PRWUS (Pine Ridge Water Users Society) approved the purchase of fill for this hole. Yesterday when I arrived home I was a bit dismayed to discover that the truck couldn't back the fill INTO the hole (too many trees in this part of the country) so I get to fill it by hand. Our one and only bobcat neighbour moved out last year! Anyway, this is sand and I actually filled about half the hole this p.m. in about 20 minutes. Unlike the kids in the novel, Holes, our newly dug holes have had a purpose and I think we're getting to the last two of them as I started to dig holes for the gateposts this past week.

Stitch 'n B.....

I've had to miss my weekly knitting/weaving/spinning sessions for the past two Thursdays but on Saturday my friend Anne taught me the linen stitch. I did this sample piece in hemp, first on very small needles that I think are about a size 11 and the rest on a size 7. I like the tight knit very well and it will work very well as a belt. Here's the pattern.

Cast on an even number of stitches.

Row 1: K1 (wyif, sl1pw), wyib, k1) -d0 this as many times as necessary to get to the last 3 stitches. Then wyif, sl1pw, wyib, k2

Row 2: P1, (wyib, sl1pw, wyif, p1) - do this as many times as necessary to get to last 3 stitches. Then wyib, sl1pw, wyif, P2

Abbreviations: wyif - wind yarn in front
wyib - wind yarn in back
slpw - slip purlwise

Note: You don't need to actually "wind" the yarn, just move it to the back or the front. It's a pretty simple stitch once you get the hang of it and could be pretty useful. Happy knitting, knitting bloggers!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Trail to Nowhere

Our MP (Alex Atamenenko, NDP) provided a service to his constituents by announcing that four passport clinics would be held in the riding. The deal was that 450 applications would be received at each of the clinics and that 20 working days would be required to receive the new passport. Sounds ideal. On Friday, I headed to Trail to renew my passport which will expire in the early part of '08. I wanted to be in the lineup by 8:00 a.m. and as usual, we were away ahead of the game. I actually arrived at the line at 7:15 and it was much longer than I had anticipated. However, I knew that I was within the 450 quota so I stood around with my book and lots of people to visit. A guy did a head count and I was at about number 300. The doors, of course, didn't open until 9 a.m. and then slowly the line began to move. Every once in a while someone who had "information" came out to make announcements to those of us in the crowd. It came to be known that they would only process 450 applications and some people were getting passports for their entire family - they all had to live at the same address, however. At about 10 a.m. a fellow told us that all the "leftovers" from the clinic in Grand Forks had been given numbers the previous day and they had been admitted first. Then a guy came out and asked us how many passports we were having processed. Everyone around me replied, "One." Finally, at about 10:50 a.m. I was on the stairs and this was the last stretch. Then, an official came out to say that no more passports would be taken that day and that we could come to the clinic in Nelson on Saturday. This time no numbers were given out! I realize that our MP can't control how Passport Canada does its job. It was good of him to offer us some opportunities to get passports because I'm sure the Gov't of Canada never would have come up with the idea. (Our closest passport offices are on the Lower Mainland or Calgary). Don't you think there could be a way that someone could figure out how many applications would be received before some of us waited for four hours? There were at least 200 people behind me and we had heard rumours that some clinics took 500 people. A lot of the people I chatted with had never waited in lineups for anything so they now knew what it was like to get tickets for a Stones concert. Those of us living along highway 3 live right next door to the American border and the way Passport Canada operates, most of us are going nowhere.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Thanksgiving Monday

We just came back from a good steep walk, trying to find the route up Mt. Buchanan, Kaslo's best lookout. We were on the Buchanan Access Trail and then came out onto a logging road which we followed for a couple of kms. We could see the top of Buchanan, but the road began to descend so we'll try again another day. I was feeling a bit of pain on the uphill route - too much Thanksgiving, I guess. We had 8 "new friends" over for supper last night and we had fine food, wine and conversation. I was happy to be the host.
Outside our front windows is our wild rose and the rose hips are perfect this year. It's also very nice to have our upstairs woodstove operating once again - we finished the fireplace last Wednesday. Celebrating Thanksgiving with rose hips, wine and a wood-burning fire is all part of the good life in the Kootenays.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Harvest Days

I love harvest time and Canadian Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. This past week I pretty much harvested all of my garden excpet carrots and potatoes. I have TONS of tomatoes and the difference between this harvest and the prairie harvest is that I got to pick off the tomatoes at a pleasant temperature! I still have mostly green ones but they are ripening in my newly created cold room. I can't say that I had a better harvest than in my Saskatchewan garden but I sure learned a lot this year. Lack of water will probably always be my bugbear. I transplanted a bunch of daylilies and lilies into new areas this week and the really joyful thing was to NOT dig a hole that was 18 inches deep for lilies. I don't think we get that kind of frost around here. It's a good thing because it's pretty much impossible to dig a deep hole out here - there's always one more rock to discover. Don't those harvest preserves look scrumptious?

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Hikin' in the Rain

A couple of weeks ago we learned about a group of people going into the Alsulkan Hut near Rogers Pass and made the decision to accompany the group. We'd never hiked much in this area and I've always found the really high peaks of the Selkirks at the summit of Rogers Pass pretty appealing. The forecast was not good but I lightly said to Dave that I'd be happy to go (it's been a really dry summer after all) until the snow got to be a foot deep. I did have to eat those words. The hike along the Alsulkan Creek (?) is delightful and this picture is of one of the waterfalls pouring off the side of some mountain. I loved this part of the hike. After crossing the creek, the climb up the lateral moraine is pretty steep and fairly narrow, but not really scary. We'd heard about the storm "at the top" from about 40 kids who were on the descent. We hit the snow about 30 minutes from the cabin and at that point we were ready to keep going just to get high, dry and warm.
The blizzard continued the rest of the day and overnight. It was relatively warm - a couple of degrees below zero but the wind totally made me think of Wyoming! The next morning before 8:00 we could see the view - the front entrance of the hut looks right down on the Rogers Pass Centre. By 8:30 we were back into snow and wind. Dave and I decided to descend so I did get to go through my foot of wet snow and the lateral moraine could have been very scary if it had been icy. I was really glad to have two hiking poles with me. By the time we reached the forest it was steady rain. I think this is the first hike in which our descent was slower than the ascent. Dry clothing was a first priority when we arrived at the car, followed by beers and burgers in Revelstoke.

When It's Been 65

I had my family out here for a visit and one reason to be together was to celebrate the 65th wedding anniversary of our parents. These balloons were decoratively displayed at a picnic table at Fletcher Falls. I got there to discover my memory card was full and no one seems to have taken a picture of the table with the balloons hanging from a ski pole. I took this pic with the balloons hanging in my south window and reversed the picture so you can tell that it's an anniversary balloon.
We had a cloudy but relatively warm day for the picnic. Teresa's sandwiches were great and everyone enjoyed the Kettle oven-baked chips, marinated vegetables and smoked gouda and butternut squash dip with our crackers. Of course, matromonial cake was served for dessert. I was relieved to discover that everyone could travel the descent/ascent without difficulty, including my legally blind brother-in-law. It was great to see Dad take the steep route back UP the hill and Mum needed about a 10 second rest on the ascent. It was a satisfying day and celebration. When Dad came down with a cold the next day and decided to hightail it home in one day I was pleased to hear he'd done it and had his usual luck as the second last car on the ferry crossing to the Island.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

THWTB Tour '07

I just finished a holiday at home, touring around our area with my newly retired teacher friend, Marilyn, from Regina. We called this our To Hell With The Bell Tour '07. I particularly like this shot taken on the Eastern Shore of Kootenay Lake on a very windy day at the best beach I've found on this lake so far. We found Kokanne spawning, had a picnic at a newly found beach near Shutty Bench, had a grand time in Hills (see previous post), tried out lots of new restaurants and bakeries and explored a wee bit of Castlegar and the south end of Arrow Lake. As usual, Fletcher Falls was another show stopper and Wings Night at the Beachcomber Pub was a celebration with a divine cake to celebrate two birthdays that week. The weather was pretty much perfect all week, although I do need rain for my plants and rain barrel. It's been a great week to be two retirees!!!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Headin' for the Hills (Garlic Festival, that is)!

It was another fine, totally blue sky day in the Koots for the Hills Garlic Festival. Ironically enough, the festival is no longer held in Hills where this picture was taken. It takes place in New Denver, about 12 km from Hills. There was a huge crowd out for the event once again this year and we enjoyed sampling lots of garlic goodies. Marilyn and I each managed to spend a little less than $100.00 and came home with jewelry, honey, candles and food, of course. We also visited the Nikkei Memorial Centre in New Denver and took a quick trip to Hills (to take the picture) and enjoyed a quiet sit by Wilson Creek at Rosebery Provincial Park. Then we tried out the Mexican food at the Wild Rose Restaurant in Rosebery - a bit too crowded today to really test the kitchen.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

100-Mile Diet

I just finished reading The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. I really liked the book because to me it was much more than a book about eco-friendly eating. It was all about being eco-friendly generally. It has made me think more about the food around me and I know that I've made the commitment to eat much less red meat. That has been a part of my life for at least two years now. Thanks to Andrea for the introduction to veggie protein as a ground beef substitute. I tend to have time to make soups from scratch more than I did while working so it is something I do now, at least in the winter. I won't be going to the extremes that the authors went to and I know that I'm not prepared to give up eating chicken and meat entirely. I want to grow more of my own food and there seems to be lots of local produce available here that people are willing to share. Which reminds me, it's time to get the handpicked plums out of the canner.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

The Riddle of the Sphinx

I've been admiring what I thought was Sphinx Mountain for over a year now. Well, today we finally solved some of that mystery. Yesterday, we headed across Kootenay Lake from Balfour to Crawford Bay and headed up over Gray Pass, the AWD route to Kimberley. Near the summit of Gray Pass is a delightful little forest recreation site called Oliver Lake. We had a great sleep in the back of our Toyota and then early this morning headed off to solve the riddle of the Sphinx. The approach was pretty rough - definitely need 4WD for this road. We found the trailhead without difficulty and the trail was in much better shape than any National Park trail I've been on recently. We were on the summit of Sphinx in two hours (picture two) and then climbed the summit which was closer to the lake - the one that I had thought all this time was Sphinx. This was a great scramble and we had super views of Kootenay Lake - the arm that ends up in Creston, as well as the West Arm and Pilot Bay. From each of these summits there are endless mountain views and I'm sure we had a glimpse of St. Mary's Alpine Park - a future hiking destination we sincerely hope. We're still not sure WHY Sphinx has the name that it does but we now know that it hides behind the ridge with the great lake view and that's me on the nameless peak!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Back Into Packing

This past week Dave and I did our first backpacking trip in two summers. I've been experiencing some ankle "issues" but this summer they've been much better. We decided to try a short trip into Jonas Pass. We started at the Nigel Pass Trailhead(on the Icefields Parkway near the Columbia Icefields) around noon on Wed. and had to hike 14 km to our campground at Four Point. The river (our camp water source) is pictured on the right. The skies indicate our perfect weather for this trip. I found the 14 km was about as much as I wanted to walk with a backpack but it's a very scenic walk and not too difficult with only about a 300 m elevation gain.
The next day we hiked up to Jonas Pass with a light pack and had a wonderful ridge walk on our return. We left in the morning and we up into the pass within an hour of leaving camp. The left hand picture gives an idea of the terrain. I think Jonas Pass has to be the longest mountain pass I've ever been over - about 7km across. I love walking at the valley bottom and looking up at the mountains on either side. Most hikers carry a big backpack over to another campground and 19km of hiking is required. We went to the top of Jonas Pass and beyond, then hiked up to a ridge to see a bit of the next valley and returned to our campground at Four Point. The next day we hiked back to our car and went off to the Edmonton Fringe.
I have to say that I felt a little wimpy after this hike although I'm pleased that my ankles were so cooperative and it was so good to get back into some real wilderness once again. We met some people who were around our age who were hiking the Great Divide Trail and had left on July 11th and had only taken two days off in all that time. They were also heading to Jasper before stopping. I don't think I'm yet ready for one of these long North American cross border trails.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Kaslo Trail Blazers

During the month of August I've finally been able to give the Kaslo Trail Blazers some of my time. This is an organization that is attempting to create a fairly long trail along the Kaslo River but I'm not sure how long it will eventually be. The pictures that are part of this post are of the bridge that will some day span the river. I've been working as a painter - all of the deck boards on the bridge - 143 of them - were painted in cedar brown. The uprights, awaiting their second coat of magenta colored preservative, have not been transported to the bridge to date. Apparently the bridge will be a covered one. At a future date, hopefully in September, a big machine currently being used in the logging industry, is coming to Kaslo to lift this bridge into place across the river. I sure hope that I get to see the spectacle. Meanwhile, Scott's old RS Bridges to Babylon World Tour t-shirt has some pretty colorful speckles in support of the Trail Blazers.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Senior's Bridge

Yesterday I went to play bridge at the Nelson Senior's Centre. The cost was 25 cents! However, I was told that I could only be a guest 3 times at the Centre and then would have to take out a membership. Am I really ready for a Senior's Club membership at age 56?

My bridge partner Sue and I played the first four hands together as partners and subsequent hands were played with different partners. Generally, the level of play was quite poor and I was pleased that I could see many of the errors in discards and in defensive play. It made me feel like a "good" player. A total of 17 hands were played and with my usual, recent card luck, I got to be Declarer on 2 out of the 17 hands. My pre-emptive 3Club bid went down one and I might have been able to make it if I hadn't gambled on the finesse working. The other hand went very well and I must say it's the first time I've been raised in my opening suit (a 5-card major) when my partner only had the King in that suit. Poor defensive play by the opponents did get me to successfully win an overtrick.

The people were friendly and there wasn't too much shouting for others to be heard. I do think Seniors could benefit from the bidding boxes that Duplicate players use, however - between hearing and memory they are pretty useful reminders. We stopped for tea part way through the afternoon and for $1 we had ice cream, cookies and tea/coffee. Isn't this the biggest bargain going?

Yesterday afternoon did remind me that I really do prefer duplicate bridge and more competetive play. I'm sure that Lorne and Hugh can go home after our play and shake their heads at all my obvious errors. I always learn something during a game of bridge and yesterday was no exception. And don't you agree, economically, it's got to be the best deal in B.C.?

Monday, 30 July 2007


I finished the latest Harry Potter (HP) yesterday and have spent a bit of time reflecting about it. I'd just seen the latest HP movie while in Calgary, which I did enjoy, and I couldn't help thinking that maybe the events that happened in the last book were related to the movie release. There seemed to be several reminders about things that had happened in previous books, all related to The Order of the Phoenix and my cynical side always looks at how people like to make money. I did enjoy the book, although my major prediction - that Harry Potter would die - did not turn out. I predicted that because I thought Rowling would like to be rid of this character and if she killed him off she wouldn't have to do another novel along this line. Memories of Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, I guess, or so I've heard. Someone asked me what I thought about the novel when I was about half-way through it. I said that I was ready for it to be over - too much of the same old thing, but the writing was good. I've found that to be true for me for the last 3 novels - more of the same old thing - but then the last 100 pages have gripped me. I didn't really get gripped this time. I'd have to say that I was a bit disappointed. The epilogue and the finale were just a little too "neat" for my taste and after giving the readers all kinds of examples of the evil in the world, it seems as if Harry has defeated all of that and everyone is still pretty happy 19 years later. Hmmm. It ain't the real world, and I guess Rowling never intended it to be that. Me, I like my realism and I'm currently enjoying my latest Inspector Banks called Playing With Fire.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Some Like It Hot

I know that some people out there really do like hot, sunny weather. I'm getting a bit sick of it. I travelled east into Alberta and Saskatchewan for two weeks and got the heat there. I'm back into the thick of it here in the Kootenays once again. By the thick of it I mean that there's smoke over the hill that is west of us - a big fire is burning half way between Kaslo and New Denver. One of the disappointing things is that it's too hot to do any hiking. We've got great views everywhere but who wants to do a hike in this heat?

So how do I keep cool? Well, the last couple of days a new friend and I are going to the Kaslo Bay area and swimming. We go to the buoy and back - it's probably about 500m there and back and the water is quite cold and very refreshing. We also do a bit of aquasize in the "shallows" near the beach. I ride my bike to the beach and the ride home from Kaslo is mostly uphill. In a wet bathing suit it actually doesn't feel too bad. Today, my friend and I picked raspberries in another friend's backyard and we stayed very cool in our wet clothing. What more can anyone ask of summer with swimming and berry picking as the mainstays of the day?

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

The Barrows

My Dad always said that the most useful tool on his Salmon Valley Farm (back in the 70's and 80's) was the wheelbarrow. I think Dave and I would be divorced if we didn't have two of them! Our wheelbarrows are in constant use. Lately, we've been mixing cement and the one in the foreground works best for that endeavour. The one at the back of the picture is lighter, narrower, and higher and a little better on steep hills or getting into narrow places. I use it the most. My daily jobs might include moving firewood, spreading bark mulch on our paths, moving horse manure to the "let it rot" pile, sifting through the compost, or moving groceries from the truck to the house. Of course, my barrow also accompanies me to the garden whenever I play there because it can always be at least partly filled with rock every time I put a pickaxe into the ground! Thanks, Dad, and Des Kennedy, for reminding me about the wonders of the wheelbarrow.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Recreation: BDBC

Tuesday is one of my days of leisure and I get to work my mind into a frenzy instead of doing physical stuff. This is the site of the Balfour Duplicate Bridge Club which meets about noon on Tuesday and usually finishes off around 4 p.m. The first picture is the view you get if you're lucky enough to be sitting and facing it. One place I do not wish to place myself is at the stationary table. I usually get to see the view at least 50% of the hands. The other day we debated whether our bridge club has the best view in North America. One of our "international" players said he thought that there were a couple in Hawaii that could probably rival us. I don't call Hawaii a part of North America, geographically speaking. What do you think - best bridge view in the northern hemisphere??

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The Deck (CIP 3)

One thing that we've really wanted to get done is finish our deck. Actually, I was the one that was pushing for this because I want to get some garden beds established in the sunniest part of the entire property. It's ended up being a rather cumbersome task and we've had to work some pretty odd angles. My contribution to this whole enterprise was digging the holes for the cement posts. This is no easy job because the soil out here is VERY rocky. It was a real treat to hit bedrock after a foot of digging because then I knew that I could quit! That only happened a couple of times and in total I've dug twelve posts between 2 and 3 feet deep. We needed 4 posts for this last phase of the deck. Next, I'll get to dig posts for the gate and our garden shed. I have to say it's been much easier using a long metal bar for digging - it's a bit like churning butter - or what I've imagined churning butter is like. After enough soil has been chipped away, it's dug out with a trowel or an old tin can and then the whole process is repeated. Aren't I learning a lot of new skills?

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Paid Work

You may have the impression that we've done a bit of work at our place. Anyway, every once in a while I go out to do paid work as a TOC (Teacher On Call). This is the school where I most often work, located about a 7 min. drive from my home. Most of the time I've worked in the high school end (it's K - 12) working mostly with grades 8, 9 and 10. This past week I had the chance to be the librarian - loads of fun and they actually paid me to do this for a whole afternoon. Why do I do it? I do find it's good to "keep the hand in" so that I don't totally forget about kids and ways to deal with them. In the winter when I started I had found time a little heavy on my hands so wanted to work a couple of times per week. I find the work quite suitable to me, actually. So far, I haven't become overly involved in all the "issues" at the school and I simply love walking out the door at 3:15 with NO homework! The 6:45 a.m. calls aren't really bothersome to me and most of the time I know ahead of time that I'll be working.
Today I did listen to Cross Country Checkup which was discussing the state of the schools. I agreed with almost everything everyone said so didn't even bother to email the program. Most of the callers had pretty grim tales. This school is probably pretty typical and the kids are nice enough (most of them) but I'd call it very lax in terms of expectations. To this point I've been able to remain calm and relaxed while at the school and trust that I haven't been written up on Face Book, Angry or Rate This Teacher. I know that I may be naive in thinking this hasn't already happened - after all these kids all carry cell phones to class. It's very good to be casual at this job in this internet happy world.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The Woodlot (CIP 2)

One new skill that I've acquired since coming to the Kootenays is that of wood splitting. Pictured above (I still can't figure out how to move around pictures in this blog) are the stumps that I split. I've discovered that I do enjoy splitting wood with a wedge and sledgehammer. I have yet to become confident with the axe. Dave has taken down several trees and you can see the stumps scattered on the ground. One of my jobs is to get the stumps into one of our splitting areas and to make the first split with the wedge. It does irritate the nerve endings in my arms a bit, but I can manage about 30 minutes of splitting at one time. Pine is tough stuff to split, I generally find, but fir and spruce and cedar are fine. We've got a good sized wood pile now, along with two smallish wood sheds so I think we're nearly ready for winter. This past winter was a cold one and we were away for two months. However, we haven't had the heat on in our place since Feb. 4th when we got home and had to get the place warmed up. Everything else has been done with the woodstove.
I never split wood without thinking about the pioneers who showed up in Canada without chainsaws or even an axe. I just can't imagine how they survived. Getting a year's supply of wood in no small feat. Wood-wise, I think we're ready for winter!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Garden (CIP 1)

I thought I'd start with the garden since that was a major reason for my move to this location. My gardening mentor, Sara Williams, always used to emphasize the challenges of the Saskatchewan gardener. I'm not sure if I can agree with her any longer. I do have a much more amenable climate. However, the soil is a buggar to work with. For the past two summers when I was out here I'd been rock picking to clear an area where I could plant a few things. My trusty SK perennials were planted in some peat moss in an already very acidic soil. I can't say they are happy, but the are alive. The daylilies are actually doing okay and this year my Siberian irises are looking quite fine. The lilies (sigh) don't seem to be happy although the martagons that I brought last year - while they were flowering - have not blinked and are ready to flower again this year. Last year I managed to complete the two garden decks pictured above, and fill them with perennials. Each of these "decks" is getting about 4 -5 hours of sun per day. You can see some of my rock pickings and luckily for me, Dave has a natural affinity for building stone walls.

This year I'm trying to have a vegetable garden. I learned last year that my soil did not do a good job of growing vegetables and I only managed to get a few peas, potatoes and onions. We had hauled very fresh horse manure to the yard last fall and added some of it to our garden area. We've also added lime to it to help with the acidity. I planted peas, lettuce, and spinach on April 12. The peas that did come out (old seed turned out to be a problem) are doing fine, but the lettuce and spinach has remained at a constant 2 cm in height for the past month.

In mid-May I purchased some soil from the Slocan Valley and have added it to various parts of the garden and created some new beds. It is also acidic although less so than the stuff that grows a great cedar forest. We've used it on our new beds in front of the house and mixed it into stuff that now has tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and zuccini trying to grow in it. We'll wait to see the verdict!

The other issue are deer. I came back from our trip to Kokanne Glacier at the end of March to see that a few of my bulbs had been eaten by the deer. Every ornamental shurb had also been nibbled. In mid May we managed to put up a rather crude fence with an even cruder gate and we haven't seen deer in the yard for 3 weeks. It also has a line of electric fencing around the top of it. I have also not noticed any deer on our little peninsula for 3 weeks either, so I'm not sure if Our fence has been truly tested. Don't you think it makes our place look welcoming??!

We hope to complete the next phase of the deck in the next couple of weeks. Then I can begin work on the garden in a really hot spot in the yard. I do have plants right in front of the house and they look a little ridiculous as they are so small. There are times when I feel totally defeated by the whole garden thing - more than I ever did in SK. As well, I didn't want to have all these pictures together but I'm having difficulty moving them around once they are in the post. I need to learn a new method. Anyway, I'm sure you can recognize the dirt pile, the flower bed in the front, the rock walls and the garden and the gate! Happy planting, weeding and watering, readers.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Custodians in Paradise

Okay, so the title of this piece is not entirely original. I recently read Wayne Johnston's book about Sheilagh Fielding (The Custodian of Paradise) and I've "adapted" the title from him. This month it's been one year since our move. I plan to do a series or a "year in review" type thing about all the different aspects of my life over the past year. I need to pick up a few more pictures to pique your interest and so wish I had taken my camera to knitter's group yesterday. Dave and I both do feel like we live in a paradise and we are doing an awful lot to try to "tame" our wilderness. There's plenty of being isolated out here as it is. I just found out this week that I can't even give blood in the Kootenays and they never have travelling clinics!
In this picture you can't really see our little part of paradise. We intend to build more of a deck in the gravelly space in front of you. The posts are now in and so are a few of the supporting boards. Watch for future developments.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Subaru 2

So I've finally registered the Subaru and have been driving it for a couple of weeks. I love how it handles on our very twisty, turny roads. We have yet to see how it will handle when those very same roads are covered with black ice - buy hey, hopefully that is at least six months away! I'm not really impressed with the gas mileage at this point but it's perhaps a bit hard to tell. We always have many corners, lots of hills and some very slow, steep bits of roadway so I need to wait to try it out on the good ol' prairie to really have a true notion of how efficiently this car is working. It seems to have lots of zip and we now have a new (to us) bike rack which we tried out last Saturday as Dave brought his bike to Nakusp for some cycling whilst (how I enjoy that very British word) I attended the Kootenay Library Federation board meeting. Happy cycling to all of you blog reading cyclists.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Reader Anxiety

This morning on CBC's radio program "Sunday Morning" there was a panel speaking about reading, reading habits and what they called "reader anxiety". I'd have to say that I think I have suffered from reader anxiety from time to time in my life - there's just so many good books out there and so little time to read them all. When I was working I'd read book reviews to get an idea about some of the books "out there" and sometimes felt as if I'd almost read the book. I'm happy to say that I seem to be over my reader anxiety. This may come from the fact that I have more time and my new location has a very small library. I'm reading more than ever and three books a week is a pretty good average. I also have the entire provincial library system at my disposal and do use it. Why am I no longer anxious about getting "everything" read? I don't know but I do know that I'm relaxed about just reading what I find anywhere.

The panel this a.m. also spoke about reading "must reads" that they've hated, etc. Everyone said they read several books at one time. I do that too. I usually have a non-fiction on the go, although my preference is for fiction. I'm continuing to read books for the 10 - 15 set and always enjoy them. I just started reading Jan Wong's Red China Blues this morning prior to this discussion. It's a book that I read a review about over 10 years ago and knew that I "should" read this book. I never got around to it. It's in my local library and our book group is reading a biography/autobiography to share with the others. This will probably be my book. I've only read one chapter but I love it and it's a book that relates very well to my generation.

I talked to Andrea bout this (Happy Birthday, Andrea) and she said she feels reader anxiety. As long as you love what you read, keep doing it. I give up on books - one after 400/500 pages - but I'm going to keep reading whatever I like and I never intend to be anxious about the should reads. Happy armchair travelling and adventuring, readers!

Monday, 14 May 2007

Clogs, Blogs, Crocs and Socks

This was the first pair of "clogs" that I have knit and the first time that I've knit with a circular needle. It was great fun and very easy to do. I knit these for my dad who is finding that his 87-year old feet are getting cold. A knitter must use real wool in the creation of the slipper and this way the clog can be "felted" so that it doesn't really look like knitting at all. It's a bit odd, really, when you're knitting because the clog looks a bit as if it's being created for a friendly giant, but it works out in the end. However, you do need an old-fashioned washing machine with an agitator and lots of hot water to get it to work.
I love having a blog and wish that I could commit to more regular posts. With summer approaching and tons of work to do outside I don't think I'll be doing any "regular" writing. However, I do really enjoy having a blog!
Andrea and Demitri purchased Crocs for Dave and I last summer and I wear them endlessly. They are so comfortable and are perfect for slipping on and off when going to the garden or coming in from the garden. I plan to get another pair - one for outdoors and one for indoors. We are constantly traisping in with stuff stuck to our shoes which is a great reason for having tile floors - the cleanup is a breeze.
Socks - I used to knit socks and gave up because I didn't really like the appearance of them all that much. However, the women who knit around here ALL knit socks and they look absolutely wonderful. So perhaps, I will get back to it because I have a number of people who can teach me now to make a good looking sock heel WITHOUT the sock looking as if it belongs on a friendly giant.

Monday, 7 May 2007

A New Window on the World

Ever since I first saw our new house - this was without any interior walls - I knew that we'd need to add another window to the master bedroom - it was just too big a room to handle only one window. We bought the window from our exterior builder because we wanted to have a consistent style in the house. Today the window was installed!! I love it! Thank you to my labourer for his hard work and he actually completed the task in the predicted half-day. Now we have another window to endow with window trim and more work to fix up the exterior of the house - just a couple of more jobs in our endless list of chores. Now we've got a north view from the lower level and I'm motivated to create a shade garden underneath it. That is being delegated to next-year country, however.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

What Should I Call This Thing?

Here is one sure sign of spring in the Kootenays - this is the plant that I've always called the skunk cabbage. The smell is very much that of a skunk. However, after reading Patrick Lane's gardening memoir, There Is A Season, he refers to this plant as the swamp lantern and I like that name much better. Do you agree? It really does look like a small lantern in the ground. When we first came out from Kokannee Cabin two weeks ago, the place where the helicopter landed had loads of these plants in bloom. In Kaslo, we're at a higher elevation and they finally bloomed this past week. I took this picture on a cloudy day - they look much more "lanternish" on a sunny day. I saw an absolute mass of them near Kootenay Lake on the way into Nelson the other day - now in the midst of a housing development. I wonder if those neighbouring owners refer to the plant as the skunk cabbage or the swamp lantern?So far, spring has been my favourite season here. The weather is certainly variable, but the numerous shades of green paint a beautiful picture everywhere I look.


Yesterday in Kaslo it was T2T Day. This means Trash to Treasures. People put out the things they don't want anymore on their street and anyone can come by and pick them up. It's a great idea and a wonderful way to spend Earth Day weekend. I didn't pick up any "treasures" because I'm really trying to NOT accumulate more things but I love the concept. Perhaps I'll have many things to give away once our projects get finished around here.My other discovery from yesterday was learning about all the new books in the Dear Canada series. This is an historical series of books put out by Scholastic Books and I've been reading them for at least 3 years. They are written for about ages 10 - 14. Scholastic has been wise enough to hire first-class Canadian children's writers to write these "diaries" which take place at a specific location during an eventful year in Canadian history. The one I found yesterday while "reading the shelves" at the Kaslo Library is about the flu epidemic in 1918. This one is written by Jean Little, one of my favourite kid authors. I've resolved to always have a children's book in my reading stack - my new little treasure to celebrate Earth Day.

Little Brother is Watching You

This post comes a few days after hearing an item on CBC's The Current on the morning of Wed., May 2nd. I tried to post that day but discovered that my blog, The Clothesline, has disappeared. After notifying Google about my issues, I'm awaiting a reply. It seemed easiest to simply create a new blog. Anyway, on to the post:

The current had an item about Face Book. Apparently, a high school student had posted some "notes" about a specific teacher on the website and was "caught". He faced disciplinary action and will not be allowed to go on a field trip to Montreal during the school year. The student and father were interviewed on the radio. The father basically feels that the student should not have been disciplined in this way because he did this in non-school time. The student did admit that what he did was wrong but was unhappy about the action taken. He continues to be a student in this teacher's class and states that he maintains "a low profile". Knowing what teachers are facing every day, I can categorically state that I'm glad to be out of the profession before everyone is "note passing" hatred about their teachers in Face Book.

During the same program I also learned that students are staging situations to anger teacher and forcing the situations to escalate so that they can post to Angry Teachers. com. Someone will video the situation from their cell phone. This is a site that I refuse to look at. However, going in as a substitue or "on call" teacher at my local high school I intend to keep my head up. The school that I get called to has lots of potential for this type of thing, I think. These kids are all wandering around in their hats, their "hoodies", and have access to all kinds of electornic paraphenalia. Would I be surprised to find myself on one of these websites? Not at all. So, teachers, it appears that little brother is watching you and looking for all kinds of opportunities to make sport of it all. Be warned, teachers.

Sunday, 22 April 2007


Yesterday in Kaslo it was T2T Day. This means Trash to Treasures. People put out the things they don't want anymore on their street and anyone can come by and pick them up. It's a great idea and a wonderful way to spend Earth Day weekend. I didn't pick up any "treasures" because I'm really trying to NOT accumulate more things but I love the concept. Perhaps I'll have many things to give away once our projects get finished around here.

My other discovery from yesterday was learning about all the new books in the Dear Canada series. This is an historical series of books put out by Scholastic Books and I've been reading them for at least 3 years. They are written for about ages 10 - 14. Scholastic has been wise enough to hire first-class Canadian children's writers to write these "diaries" which take place at a specific location during an eventful year in Canadian history. The one I found yesterday while "reading the shelves" at the Kaslo Library is about the flu epidemic in 1918. This one is written by Jean Little, one of my favourite kid authors. I've resolved to always have a children's book in my reading stack - my new little treasure to celebrate Earth Day.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

What Should I Call This Thing?

Here is one sure sign of spring in the Kootenays - this is the plant that I've always called the skunk cabbage. The smell is very much that of a skunk. However, after reading Patrick Lane's gardening memoir, There Is A Season, he refers to this plant as the swamp lantern and I like that name much better. Do you agree? It really does look like a small lantern in the ground. When we first came out from Kokannee Cabin two weeks ago, the place where the helicopter landed had loads of these plants in bloom. In Kaslo, we're at a higher elevation and they finally bloomed this past week. I took this picture on a cloudy day - they look much more "lanternish" on a sunny day. I saw an absolute mass of them near Kootenay Lake on the way into Nelson the other day - now in the midst of a housing development. I wonder if those neighbouring owners refer to the plant as the skunk cabbage or the swamp lantern?

So far, spring has been my favourite season here. The weather is certainly variable, but the numerous shades of green paint a beautiful picture everywhere I look.

Monday, 2 April 2007

East Meets West at Kokannee Glacier

Our ski week in at Kokannee Glacier was a big success and who can argue with 5/6 days of sunshine? We did have to start a day late because of the huge rainstorm going through the valley on March 24th. We made up for it with 5 more days of brilliant sun. Very little snow fell during the week and this kept the avalanche hazard pretty low. I thought the snow was icy, crusty, too soft or just about perfect, but I used snowshoes the entire week so I was fine. I never felt fomo (see previous post) for one minute - I hate skiing on the icy, crusty stuff and there was a layer of it depending on the altitude.

I think I could earn the title Hut Nazi after my week in the cabin but it's funny how people see the cook as the hut custodian. The meals I cooked were well received, I thought, and the desserts all seemed to get rave reviews. If lack of leftovers is an indication of the quality of the cooking OR just the sheer exertion of the participants makes them eat anything, leftovers were never a problem! I enjoyed having that bit of structure to my day, I loved having the hut to myself with its huge, sunny kitchen. It was just like playing house. To me, it was a good thing for the group to HAVE to share one meal per day. It keeps the confusion out of the kitchen and it forces people to do some bonding whether they want to or not. I've been on too many trips where people don't really visit. This group warmed up to each other well during the week and although I probably won't see most of them again, it was a friendly, happy feeling in our hut.
So why would I call myself Hut Nazi? Well, I organized the clean up crew on the last day and everyone was coming to me for orders. They were a great crew and 90% of our jobs were done before going to bed on Friday evening. I have to say there's something to be said for a group of relative strangers getting together to spend a week together - because we don't know each other well we're on our best behaviour and always very civil. So what does that say about how we treat those closest to us? This was our humble abode for a week - note the satellite dish.

Our "east" group included 5 people from SK - I included Dave and I in that group because we'd never have been involved if it hadn't been for our SK ACC contacts. The "west" included mostly people from parts of B.C. - the west coast, the Okanogan Valley, and a Calgaryian.

The heli ride this time was good. I didn't like the steep swing in for the landing - that's feels too much like a ride at the Ex for my taste, but I did like flying over a familiar area and looking at the landmarks. I particularly enjoyed the ride over the lake. I think riding in a helicopter could be something I could get to really look forward to. This was our fly out 'copter.

Snowshoes with crampons worked really well for me in these snow conditions and over the steep hills. I'd take those again and Andrea has bequeathed them to me on the condition that she can borrow them for a trip if necessary. This is the kind of terrain I travelled through on snowshoes.

It was a good week in the high country but getting back to spring was just as fine! I was chagrined to see that a deer had eaten my hyacinth flowers in the garden but there is a heather blooming! Having a week of winter on a glacier that has limited access is a happy way to finish off a winter of incessant weekend storms.
This is my first attempt at multiple pictures and I'm learning a little more each time about how to do this - hopefully it'll look a little more 'arty' next time.