Thursday, September 18, 2014

Postcard from Oliver

Hi all, having a wonderful time, wish you were here. Ha, ha, not really, there is no room unless you bring your own tent and sleeping bags. Done lots of walking and bike riding, butts are sore. My two buddies and I had a nice walk up the mountain this morning.  Haven't done that for quite a while, it's been too hot the last few visits. That's it for now,talk  to you again soon, Karen

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Bit of Good News

Larry had an 8am appointment at the opthalmologist yesterday.  We were there nearly two hours.  We had to wait when we first got there as the technician takes one after the other through some sort of tests sat in front of a machine. (Wow, does that sound technical or what, NOT!)  Then she took us into another room, apologized for the closet like size of it, said that one of the usual rooms was being used by another doctor.  Did the reading of the letters on the wall test.  I remember last time when she was rather taken aback that Larry couldn't read the first letters she put up, and she had to bump them up several sizes.  This time I thought he was reading smaller letters, and said as much to Larry.  He asked me about the different eyes, both the technician and I laughed, that was expecting too much, for me to remember which eye was what.  Anyway, he went from 20/90 in the left eye to 20/70 and from 20/60- in the right, to 20/50.  Then we were kind of forgotten in that room by the Dr., as it is not a room he usually rotates through.  He eventually came in full of apologies, and then decided Larry's left eye needed to be dilated after he described weird flecks and a barcode like line he was seeing in that eye.  More waiting, the Dr. came back and said he wasn't seeing anything unusual on the retina.  The good news is that he gave Larry the okay to drive in the daytime.  The not so good news is that he has decided to send Larry for a consult with the specialist that does the corneal endothelial cell transpants (see Fuch's Dystrophy).  He figures that Larry is going to need that done eventually, maybe sooner rather than later.  Larry's mother had the same problem, it is hereditary.

And because I don't have any nice pictures to go with this bit of news, here are some I took at the dyke a while ago, that were meant to be in one of those blog posts that never happened.

Calli found herself a massive rock

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Our first selfie.  How unflattering is that!  I was squinting like mad trying to see the screen on the phone, and praying that Calli wasn't going to drop her rock on it while I fiddled around.

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And then some fun with the setting sun and making silhouettes, sort of.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Update

Yesterday was recovery day after the previous four hectic days.  The guys got back about 8:30 Sunday evening.  Larry was pretty beat.  A great trip, amazing scenery, scary moments, cold nights warm days, lots of fun. I'll post some pictures when I can get some from David.  David still had another half an hour to drive to his current home, and then had to be back at the University for 9 in the morning.

I was beat too.  My four days played out like this.
Thursday morning after they left at 7, I did the usual morning stuff, got the garbage and recyclables out and wondered why I didn't see any stuff at the end of the neighbours driveway.  Then remembered that Monday had been a holiday, so that put us back a day.  Did remember to put it back out that evening, which was a good thing as I totally forgot about it on Friday morning.  Did a bit of gardening, seeded some more arugula.  In the afternoon I started making jam, but that was a hard slog for some reason and I only got two batches done before I had to spend some time cleaning up the dining room and it's big table.  Some of my dog club members were coming over that evening to do the paperwork for the agility trial we were putting on over the weekend.  We got all that done and they left at 10.

Friday morning I got going earlier, and got three batches of jam done, and would have liked to have kept going, but it was time to head to the fair grounds and set up for the agility trial.  I was there a couple of hours, dashed home, fed the dogs, did a couple of things, and then headed back with Jake and Luna.  The trial started at 6 that evening.  The first run in with Luna, I slipped and fell.  Just felt like my feet slipped on the dirt and down I crashed on my left upper chest.  One pancaked breast.  Got up quickly and continued on, well tried to salvage what I could out of that run.  Ran another run with Luna, and then two with Jake.  By the end of the evening I was so sore.  Throwing the frisbee with my right arm hurt, bending over really hurt.  I got back home at 9, and because I was so into the jam making before I had to leave, I had thought that I could do the other two I needed when I got back home.  (Sometimes I just have to go with it when I feel the urge)  So I did, eventually, and went to bed at 1 am.  Right before I went to bed I had a hot shower, rubbed this P3 stuff on my left side, and took an advil.  Took quite a while to get comfortable in bed, and longer to get to sleep, so that 6 am alarm came around mighty fast.

So we are now at Saturday.  My body was feeling better than the night before, which was a relief because I was really worried about the vegetable picking I had to do later.  Let the chickens out, made sure they had enough food, etc.  Arrived back at the trial at 7:45 just in time to walk the first course.  Hung out at the trial all day, running Jake and Luna and helping to build courses and doing some ring crewing and leash running.  Left at 3:30 after Luna's last run.  I had hung around waiting for that run for quite a while, as it is the last one she needs to get clean to move up to all Masters level courses.  Sadly, it wasn't meant to be, and she got a refusal.  Anyway, laid on the couch for a while when I got home, it was a hot day and I felt beat, and there was no way I could work in the hot sun.  So I have this theory about the September sun, as a hot day seems hotter than August or July.  I think it's because the sun is lower, and is hitting the side of the body at a more direct angle, which produces more heat.   Anyway, by 5:15 there was some shade coming onto the garden so I went outside and got the vegetables all picked.  Collected eggs, got them cleaned and in cartons and ready to go for Sunday.  Got the random flowers picked that were down by the house. Came back in at 8:15 for a bit of a break.  By then it was dark.  I still had the dahlias to pick.  Went back out at 9 and with a head lamp and the light of the almost full, super moon, I got those picked.  It was a beautiful evening.  No mosquitoes, and no random noises in the dark that made me think, OMG, what was that?  

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See those carrots in the white bin, next to the beets in the orange tub?  In the morning there was a massive slug on the carrots, and it had eaten a huge hole into one carrot:(

Got the trailer hooked up to the truck, finally found a card table that I wanted to take and was not in the last place I had seen it.  By then it was midnight.  Back inside, labelled and priced and sorted the jam I had made on Thursday and Friday.  Got to bed at 1 am.  Set the phone alarm for 5am.  It is really quite depressing when you set it and it tells you the alarm will ring in 4 hours and 2 minutes. Took me quite a while to get comfortable again, so I figure I was lucky if I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep.

5 am Sunday morning came far too soon, but I was able to stagger out of bed fairly quickly, and headed outside. Pitch black still.  I had rigged a light up at the potting bench and was able to wash and sort and bag what vegetables still needed doing, and then get it all loaded into the truck, along with the extra jam, and the eggs and the card table and a dog crate for Calli, plus leave enough room for the flowers. Sorted out the chickens and then I spent an hour making up bouquets.  Meredith got here about 7, so I asked her to take the dogs for a short walk down the road.  I finished the eighth bouquet, and got the those loaded into the truck along with the buckets of extra flowers that I would make up at the market.  We were ready to go just after 7:30, dogs and all, and were at the market by 8:05, and were able to drive right to our spot.  Meredith drove, she said I seemed rather stressed, which I thought was weird, as I wasn't feeling stressed at all at that point.  I had managed to load everything into the truck (that would have been Larry's job, and I don't really pay much attention to how he does it), and we were leaving at a decent time.  Anyway, it was nice to be a passenger for a change, as I've done all the driving for the last few months.

The market went well, the best one this year so far.  Meredith is great.  1 pm rolled around, the market was done, and suddenly, so was I.  I was beat.  We headed straight home and I crashed on the couch for a few hours.  Meredith hung around to see if the guys would show up, but we didn't get a reply to our texts, so she eventually left.  I finally staggered up and got a few things done, the truck unloaded and the trailer parked back in it's spot, and was just about to collect eggs and shut the chickens in when Gruff chugged up the driveway.  

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My left side is still stiff and sore, depending on what I am doing, about the same as Saturday.
Jake and Luna ended up with one clean run each at the trial.  I pulled Jake after two runs on Saturday as he was sore.

The end.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Envious

The boys left early this morning on a four day Landrover adventure, with the Landrover club. 10 or 12 trucks or so all heading out into the wilderness.  They have lucked out and if the forecast holds, will have four days of perfect September weather.  David was going, his girlfriend was unable to go, and there was a seat available.  I encouraged Larry to go along.  We don't get much chance to do things on the weekends in the Summer, not together anyway, so I pushed him to go.  I would have liked to go myself, but knew that if someone had to go to the market this Sunday, with all the vegetables that we have to pick, it had better be me.  (Just so you know, Larry is NOT a gardener). But I'm envious.  Maybe not envious of the bathroom arrangements, or the sleeping arrangements....but envious of all the beautiful scenery they will see.  So bright and early this morning they loaded the last few things into 'Gruff'. (As in billy goat gruff.  The other club members say it is like a little billy goat, small and short and able to get just about anywhere)

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Thanks to me, Larry, despite his clipboard and his lists, will have a pillow to sleep on tonight and a towel to dry his face.  I tried to not get too involved....ha ha....but I did:)  I did add a couple of  other things last minute.  

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They have a big shovel and lots of toilet paper in a bin packed in the back of Gruff, but that doesn't do you much good when 'ya gotta go' in a hurry. I said that if it was me, I would like some kind of fold up toilet seat on a stand.  Larry said there is one guy that has one, he uses it to sit on around the campfire.  Bet he doesn't have to worry about someone stealing his seat!

All set to go!

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And they are off. Yep, Gruff is a right hand drive.  Larry is down the driveway waiting to close the gate.

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You can see that Gruff is all set for some deep water with that snorkel.  Don't think they'll have to worry too much about that this trip.
If I was feeling overwhelmed before...by the time the four days are up I might be pretty b*tchy, not that I haven't been already.  I got off to a good start this morning, but things went downhill from there.  Oh well, what gets done, gets done, and the rest will still be around, or will rot, by the time I get to it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Overwhelmed

I wish I could say that we had been away on a lovely three week holiday, doing nothing more energetic than sitting in the shade, sipping a cold drink and reading a book.  Truth be told, I'd go stir crazy doing three weeks of that, but the thought of it seems nice.  No such luck.

Around this time of the year, I just start to feel overwhelmed.  Mentally more than physically I think.  Too much too do, and not the energy to do it.  Having a hard time getting going on things some times, at a time when there is sooo much that needs getting going at.  It's a busy time of year. 

 The farmers markets have been busier for me the past few weeks, which means I have to make more jam.  There is more fruit to deal with.  I still have 40 lbs or so of crabapples sitting in the fridge, waiting to be cooked up....but......I'm pretty well out of freezer space. I've already done 50 lbs or more.  It seems as soon as I take a bag or three out of the freezer to make into jam, there are three or more ready to go in. The pears are ripening like mad, falling off the tree.  Larry has been picking them up, and picking some off, and they are lined up in boxes in the garage, and I'm going through them daily and picking out the ripe ones to peel and jam or peel and freeze for jam.  It's a slow process, there are a lot of small pears.  I could just buy some big ones, but ours are free, and organic, and taste so much better than ones I have bought.   I bought nectarines, and the same is happening with them.  As they ripen they are jammed or frozen.  The fruit flies are thick, I'm vacuuming them up daily.  Maybe I should try some traps, but wonder if there is much point when there is so much ripe fruit hanging around.

The vegetable garden is doing well, after I finally rescued it from the weeds.  A certain type of grass in the garden has just gone mad this year.  The vegetable garden looked like a hayfield at one point.  This is the first year I have not had a good basil crop, in nearly 20 years.  The weeds got away on me, and when I finally rescued the basil, the plants were pretty scrawny, and not many of them.  They look much better now, and I took a chance and seeded some more, which are up and doing well, but it is really too late in the season, and they won't come to much.

I've taken photos and written blog posts in my head, but seemed to find it impossible to actually type them out and post them.

Larry continues to have trouble with his eyes after the cataract surgeries.  The Fuch's Dystrophy has worsened his vision.  He is still not driving, which, well, just sucks.  Some days he thinks he would be 'okay' to drive.....but he hasn't, so far. He has an appointment with the Opthalmologist on Sept 10.  The increased eye drops and overnight cream prescribed since his last visit don't seem to have made much difference.  He may be looking at a cell transplant.

We made it to Oliver at the end of August for three nights.  The lawn there was struggling, still some green clumps of grass, but lots of tall weeds, all going to seed.  Instead of mowing them off, which would have just spread the seeds around, we decided to pull them out.  Only one variety did not have a tap root, the tap roots explaining why the weeds are doing so well and the grass was not.  Most of them came out fairly easily, especially after we watered the lawn, but it was still a lot of work, hard work.  At lunchtime of the second day, I commented 'when is the holiday part of this going to start'.  Well that afternoon we did take the dogs to the lake for a swim, and I had one too.  Then after that I rode my bike to the thrift store and they were having a bag sale, so for $5 I managed to fill a paper shopping bag with assorted things I probably didn't really need.  Okay, Meredith really did need that mixer I got for her:), but did I really need another iron....well it's always good to have one on standby just in case the second hand one you already have decides to stop working, or you knock it off the ironing board and it hits the tile floor and breaks....yes that did happen to me once. 

So there you have it folks.  We are still here, plodding along.  We picked our 40 buckets of blackberries a few weeks ago, thank goodness.  We still are eating corn on the cob, done so easily in the microwave.  We are still going to the farmers markets, rushing around like mad on a Sunday morning to get everything picked and loaded and getting there just in time to be set up by 9 am.  And then we get an email from the market manager this week asking us to get there by 7:30 (to help reduce the congestion).......did that rub me the wrong way or what...... I guess I'll send her an email explaining that since Larry can't see well enough to drive, he is unable to leave home before me to set up earlier like he did last year, while I stay at home longer to finish the picking.  I do quite a bit of picking the evening before, but since it gets dark so much earlier in the evening, and light so much later in the morning, we run out of time.  We have an extra fridge, but the space in that is mostly taken up by eggs and fruit, so I can't pick the veggies too much ahead of time.  Okay, now I'm really rambling on.....but at least you know I am still here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Picking Technique

We are in the middle of blackberry season.  Just about every weekday morning we pick them.  We take the dogs for their morning walk through the bush, and then on the way back start picking blackberries.  And then Friday and Saturday evenings we pick more to take to the farmers markets.

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I am aiming to pick 40 pails full, between us, which means I'll pick about 2/3 of them, and Larry will pick the other third.  I need that many to have a steady supply of blackberry jam and jelly until they are ripe again next year. The pails held four litres (about a gallon) of something or other, but seem to hold more blackberries than the four litre  ice cream pails we used last year.  The three we have been using this year are much sturdier than the ice cream pails, and really work well. Some mystery person dropped them off at our gate. I am sure you are not reading this, but thank you anyway!

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The best technique is to fasten the pail at your waist somehow, generally we run a belt through the handle.  That way you can pick with two hands, and bucket is close by for dropping the berries in. 

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 We saw a clip on the news the other day of a retired professor in Vancouver, out picking blackberries.  He was balancing the bucket on the palm of one hand, and picking with the other.  That's too slow for us.  He had multiple layers of clothes on so he could venture into the brambles and not get jabbed with the thorns.  We cut back the long overhanging shoots from this year. They are the ones that have the most wicked thorns. That way we can wear shorts and t-shirts because it's usually hot when we are doing it, and not get all caught up in the thorns (for the most part).  Wearing all the clothes like that professor, well I wouldn't have to worry about getting stabbed by the thorns, because I'd already be dead from heat stroke.

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Every time we walked by one of the best patches, a robin would finally fly off squawking. Eventually I realized there was a nest in there.  And then when we finally started picking there, we saw this.  As far as I know there were only two babies.  This would probably be the second hatch of the year.

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We picked fast and moved out of the area as quickly as we could.  Sometimes we could hear mama robin swearing at us from the nearby trees.  Once we moved away she would come back and land on the fence just up from the nest, the next meal ready to be shoved down the nearest throat.  

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These photos were taken last week, and already on Monday the nest was empty.  Those babies grow fast!

We didn't pick yesterday morning because we had a bit of rain, so I went out on my own last evening and picked three buckets in just over an hour.  The picking was good!  We had some smoke in the air that had blown up from some forest fires in Washington, so I thought we might get a bit of colour as the sun set, and we did:)

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I'm sad though that we've already lost an hour of daylight in the evenings.
The dogs like blackberries too, and they have the best picking technique of all.  Straight from the stem to the stomach.


29 buckets picked as of Wednesday!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Super Moon

Last night when the moon came up from behind the trees to east, I tried to get some decent pictures.  I even remembered where I had put the tripod, which was amazing in itself, and set that up.  The pictures were nothing spectacular, for sure.

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So then I thought it might be fun to take a drive over the hill to where there is a view to the east, and see what I could get from there.  Larry was in the middle of collecting eggs and shutting the chickens in, but he was game to come.  So we drove about a mile and a half and parked on the side of the road, and I got out and set the tripod up.  We could hear people talking in the backyard of a house nearby (it had been a hot day) and some weird bird noises from a barn close by.  I'll have to have a better look at that barn in the daylight.  There might be pigeons in it.

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I had wanted to get the moon and Mt. Baker in Washington State together in the picture.   The moon wasn't really cooperating and wasn't where I wanted it to be.  I wanted to capture it rising behind Mt. Baker.  Well we were too late and too far east.  The sky wasn't very clear either, we get pollution trapped in the Fraser Valley on hot summer days.  Obviously I was not going to get the picture of my imagination.

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I farted around with different setting on the camera, really having no clue what I was doing.  Well mostly changing the shutter speed.  
This was kind of a fun one.  A car drove by while the shutter was open, I think I had it set at 4 seconds at that point.

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I wanted to try another one like that.  There had been a few cars drive past up to that point, but then we hit a car drought.  Larry kept offering to drive our car past, and I kept saying no, we'll wait for one to come by.  Didn't happen, so packed up and headed back up the hill, and of course then another car came over the top.  Figures.

Back home we went.  Larry finished off the chicken duties, and I took one last shot over the garden.

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