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.