Boating Fun

Luke’s home from the rigs for a couple of weeks, and when he’s here he likes to lash money around.  He decided to rent a boat, and invited Denis, Nicky and I to join him and Jan.  Haruka had to work so couldn’t come.

We were laden with beer-filled coolers, and met the person dropping the boat at the launch near the yacht club at noon on Labour Day.  Luke was the captain, so he was given a few instructions and we all hopped aboard.

Can you believe I’ve lived here for 27 years and have never been on the lake?  So I was quite thrilled with the whole thing as we roared off, headed under the bridge, and off to Rattlesnake Island.  I’ve only ever seen it from the highway, and so was quite intrigued to go up to it.

There were people standing on it, obviously no snakes live there any more, and there were a few kayaks about.  We cut the motor to float and watch the planes scoop water to dump on the Peachland/Summerland fire.  It was actually a rare day of decently clear skies so we could see quite a bit into the distance.

I had the common sense not to drink anything, but I saw Jan down an iced tea and thought oh oh.  Denis soon had to pee, as did Nicky and Luke.  Luke easily stood on the back of the boat, balancing himself while peeing.

Nicky and Denis each tried this stunt, but couldn’t do it.  It was great fun to see these two standing there trying to coax pee out of their bladders.  Nicky had to jump into the lake, swim to shore, and pee behind a boulder.  Denis just toughed it out for the rest of the trip.

As we all complained we had to pee, Luke said this was the last time he was inviting any of us to do anything as we were just so terrible.  I said why is it terrible to have to pee after 5 hours?  I said Jan’s said she has to pee, too and you didn’t include her in the list of people never to invite.

But aside from bladder issues, it was a hot day, the views were spectacular, and we were generally in good spirits.  I adore experiences like that.  And after boating all over the lake, we all agreed renting is the way to go as it’ll likely be another ten years before we want to do that again.  And then of course the fee and the gas are the kicker.

Then the next evening I was one of the privileged few to be invited to the Innovation Centre in downtown Kelowna to hang with the PM.  Yes, you read that right.  I don’t think there were more than a hundred of us there, so there were no people mobbing him and he could just move about the room, talking to folks.

Being the aggressive Hun that I am, I was the first person in line for a photo.  Unfortunately he didn’t know that’s why I was there, so he shook my hand and I had a few moments to blurt out I was a Trudeau girl in 1968.  He then replied, “I’ve got to get a beer” and headed off.

Never one to be deterred, I walked back up to him and said oh, I actually want a photo, and he replied “just ask.”  He’s so adorable.  Sadly, I had to close my eyes at the very moment of the photo, so look stupid, but he looks fab, so I went home feeling satisfied.  Two great events in one week.

How to Catch a Homeless Cat

Tomorrow’s the solar eclipse so maybe that bodes well for my hopes of catching a homeless cat I’ve noticed around the neighbourhood.  I’ve been thinking about it so much the other night I dreamt Mango brought the cat home and I was so happy.  But the reality remains that the cat is on the loose.

Margaret came for her annual summer visit and we ate lots of nice local things, such as peach pie, loganberries the size of our thumbs, and delicious dark red juicy Okanagan tomatoes.  All very lovely, and we also had a nice lunch at the Eldorado where we sat by the lake.

One morning as I was looking out the kitchen window I said to Margaret “there’s that wild cat I want to catch and tame.”  I went down the driveway to call the cat, but to no avail.  I think “here puss puss puss” only works on cats who know that’s meant for them.  Maybe homeless cats don’t know stuff like that.

Here’s a wondrous thing that’s occurred in my life – I now have my very own handyman.  I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have found ‘Syl’.  He’s one of those older, wiry, skinny dudes who can do anything you ask.  Gutters are cleaned, the pebble driveway has been cleared of weeds, broken down spouts have been replaced, the sunroom roof has been washed, and so much more is due to come.

So the other day I told Syl to keep an eye out for that cat, which he did.  He told me he saw the cat right inside this very yard the other day!  So I have to figure out a way to get food out where the dog, squirrels, coyotes and raccoons don’t go, but where a cat might.  Hard.

Can you believe my honey extractor broke after just a couple of uses?  But guess who knows how to fix it?  Yes, good old Syl’s got the broken part, is replacing the bearing, and so I can soon retrieve more frames of honey and spin them.  I’ve been too scared to return to the hive since last time when I couldn’t get the final frame to go into place.

The poor bees have worked like sons of you know whats, to get that sealed as the lid wouldn’t go on flush due to the one corner of the frame not lying flat.  However they’re going to be even angrier, to have worked so hard filling all those frames with honey, and then I go Yoink! and grab their stuff.

I’d really like to get a second bee suit as Syl would be a great help with beekeeping.  He’s looked at the overgrown lower yard area, and knows he has to weed whack the whole thing, but then I want an arbour built for my hardy kiwis.  They’re falling right over, and I have 9 kiwis for the first time and hope they’ll ripen.

So Syl knows he can’t fool around as he has so many things to do, and it should all be done before it’s too cold.  I said to him I do hope you’re not planning on relocating any time soon, and he assured me he’s not.

I’m going to e mail mom’s neighbour Lynne who’s had a lot of adopted homeless cats over the years and see if she can give me some tips on how to get this animal into my house.  The cat’s all happy right now, but by December it won’t feel so plucky.

Hot Rodding

Imagine my dismay upon leaving one of our Liberal executive meetings only to find myself stuck behind the president as we descended Lakeshore Road.  Stan’s an absolutely adorable person, but he drives like an old lady.  I tailgated him down the hill, and as we turned onto Swamp Road we were stopped at a red light.

I rolled down my window, and as he has a convertible I knew he could hear me, and screamed at him “Move over.  Get off the road!”  People in nearby cars and a man on the sidewalk stared, but I continued my rant and started waving my arm indicating “get off.”

Stan had Ken the treasurer in the car with him, and he dutifully pulled over to the side so I could get ahead of him.  Free, I put the pedal to the metal and did the usual giddy spree down Swamp Road, through the first roundabout, through the next roundabout, and home within 10 minutes of leaving Alice, the vice president’s, place.

The next day I sent an e mail to Stan saying hey sorry but I like to make it between my house and Alice’s in ten minutes.  He replied no problem, and said he’s been passed by blondes in red hot rods many times.

Today my bold streak seemed to hold as I went down to the big bee hive and took out every frame, and found five heavy and full of honey, so removed those.  One replaces those with blank frames, and as usual, the last one just wouldn’t go in properly.

If you can imagine, riddling a hive filled with 80,000 angry bees as you try to get the 11th frame into the hive box in a bee suit in the Okanagan in July is no picnic.  I finally gave up, and thought “F. it.”  Yes, I swear when near the bees and am not in any way the image of the calm beekeeper.

And the lower yard is no sea of tranquility for my poor neighbour Pat who’s so neat and tidy in his yard.  However I’ve left the alfalfa to grow wild everywhere, and the bees are having a ball with it.  The result is a field of alfalfa with the remnants of old garden beds evident in places.

But despite the wretched gardening efforts, my season’s been filled with decent bounty.  I had very dark red and lovely rhubarb, followed by sweet strawberries.  I’ve just eaten the last of my blueberries and can pick ripe figs from my little fig tree.

The poor, neglected apricot tree has fruit on it, too, so now I go down and pick a few apricots, warm, from the sun, and eat them right there.  For the first time ever I have little kiwis forming on my kiwi plant.  I’ve had that thing for at least five years and this is the first year for fruit.

And of course I eat lashings of honey and honeycomb.  Jan, Haruka and I just scrape the honeycomb right off the frames and eat it.  Good thing, as the extractor I bought last year for around $200 is a piece of junk and I can’t get the handle to turn at all this year.

Nicky frowns at the pieces of dead bees and other debris in the honeycomb and refuses to eat it, which is unfortunate, as it’s the joy of trying crazy stuff that makes life fun.

Harvesting Honey and Making Jam

Last week my bee friend, Lorraine, came over to help me with my hives.  We looked into the ‘nuc’ or baby hive and she went holy moly.  I guess those blighters had been working like mad and were already getting crowded and in need of a new home.

Fortunately I’d bought a whole new hive at Buckerfields earlier, so we took all of the frames from the small hive and moved them into a new home.  We then went over to the old hive, and Lorraine said “I can hear them buzzing from here” as we came toward it.

Here was another bunch of hard-working bees, and Lorraine just went berserk when she saw the amount of capped honey in the frames in the top hive box.  She said that’s about the amount of honey she used to get after a whole season, and this is just July, and I removed four frames of honey in early June.

But I didn’t have any more blank frames, and Lorraine said I had remove the ones filled with honey ASAP as the bees could swarm if it gets too full in there.  So today I did that, and man were those bees ever angry.  The kid at Buckerfields, the bee expert, said they just get madder as each week goes by into fall.

So now I have five heavy frames of honey to spin, and that’s a heart-sinking thought: The mess of the hot honeycomb knife, the wax on the counter, the physical hell of the spinning, and the mess of getting the honey out of the extractor.

When I say things like that to Lorraine she says brightly you have to think of it as a labour of love.  And I reply I feel more and more like accepting my mom’s offer of $10 to go and buy myself a jar of honey.

And then as these bee excursions always end, I got stung right on the bottom of my chin.  It was so hot with the bee suit on I had sweat blinding me, I was desperate for a moment of air and took off the hood when I thought I was far enough away from the bees.  I wasn’t, as one vindictive maniac decided to follow me and finish me off.

After Lorraine and I looked at the hives, I went to Osoyoos and came home with about 40 pounds of ripe apricots.  Mom loves apricot jam and eats at least 60 jars of it a year, so I have to make an awful lot, which is fine.

But if anyone reading this has tried to make apricot jam, you know it’s got to be one of the trickiest jams in the world to set.  I’ve eaten some jam that would best be called apricot soup, and that’s really nasty.  At least when mine fails, it’s been boiled like hell, so I call it apricot syrup.

And apricot syrup is great for yogurt, on pancakes or waffles, or poured on a roast ham, but mom doesn’t want apricot syrup, the woman wants apricot jam.  She wants it to remain on her piece of bread until she’s eaten it, not dripping over the sides.

So imagine my annoyance at just having made about eight jars of syrup.  Now I have to re-boil these with more pectin, and then surely to God this is going to gel.  Between honey extraction and jam making I’m likely going to have a nervous breakdown.

Baking to Reduce Stress

You know what they say, when the going gets tough, the tough start baking.  This morning I noticed black billowing smoke in the distance and figured this is it, another fire.  That’s what happens when there’s a province-wide emergency and you’ve been evacuated before for fire.  Your nerves go.

But it turns out a condominium burned down, and that’s what caused that huge plume of black smoke.  I feel bad for the poor people who had to be evacuated and lost all their stuff.  But in the meantime, I just had to start baking to calm my nerves.

Alice, my pal from the Liberal executive, gave me two huge zucchinis, so I made two loaves, one the normal variety with spices and the other with chocolate.  They’re currently in the oven filling the kitchen with that lovely smell of home baked goods.

And for the past while I’ve been immersing myself in Friends, starting with episode 1, and so every night I get to sing the theme song four or five times.  The dog just loves it as it really does put one in a relaxed and happy mood.

And why not, as the show began in 1994 when life was good.  Clinton and Chretien were in power, and the economy was roaring.  I got Arnie in 1995.  I have a lot of nostalgia for the 90’s.  Even the idea of a summer filled with forest fire haze was unthinkable then.

Today Nicky came by with their adorable mutt, Fuji, and he upset Louie as usual, just by his mere presence.  Louie just cannot stand that young dog, and the dog worships Louie so it’s one of those unfortunate relationships.  The little dog crouches, wagging, inches from Lou’s face, and Lou just gets up and walks away.

Nicky, Haruka and Fuji are coming for dinner tomorrow so Louie will be upset once again.  Then we’re off to the Buddhist temple for a Japanese festival and I’ll get to watch Haruka performing in her drumming group.

For more stress reduction, I have plans to make a proper Black Forest cake for my birthday party next week.  I bought Kirsch which is de rigueur, and it requires one uses ripe cherries and not the ghastly pie cherries used in some places.  That isn’t a proper Black Forest cake.

I also found a divine recipe for chicken liver pate, which I’ll make and freeze so that I can give it to mom.  She had her mouth set on it the last time I visited, and when I arrived she said where’s the pate?  I said to her she’d told me she had plenty of food in the place so I didn’t bother making it.  That was a mistake, obviously, as one always has room for pate.

Last week I made a cherry fool which is just pitted cherries cut in half and mixed with whipping cream, which I gave to Haruka to take home to Nick.  She was here with the hound from hell and I babysat him as she shopped.  God knows neither Lou nor Fuji can be left unattended as they’re too precious.

And the final stress reliever is a tablespoon or two of my very own honey, which is laden with honeycomb and supposedly very healthy.  I should be as calm as a cuke.

Visited the Kangaroo Farm

Luke’s wife Jan and I went to the Kangaroo Creek Farm in Winfield.  It’s about 12 acres of wallabies, emus, capybaras, goats and exotic foul.  The ducks are from Indonesia and have adorable punk rocker-style tufts of feathers on the tops of their heads.  A beautiful chicken with a crest on its head had two fluffy chicks, one day old, racing about.

Jan loves animals as much as I do so we petted as many of them as we could.  We snuck up to some albino wallabies snoozing in the shade of a wagon and scratched their little backs.  All of the animals are just too full to accept any treats so you’re just lucky if one deigns to come over and lets you pet it.

On the way home I gave Jan a tour of the development around Quail’s Gate golf course, and then ran around UBCO as well.  A trip wouldn’t be complete without stops at Asian Market and Super Store.

It was a brief respite from the to do lists that always await.  I’ve gotten a fair bit of things done, but my God, have they ever cost a lot of money.  I had the entire yard pruned and I nearly choked when handed a bill for $1453.  However they arrived at 8:00 and worked non-stop until 3:00 so perhaps that’s just how much it costs.

And notice how I said “I’ve gotten things done” which should be interpreted as “I phoned people and made them do things.”  But then the bill comes and one weeps a bit.  But I have enough to do to finish shovelling out a yard of pebbles onto my xeriscape garden’s pathway.

Lorraine my beekeeper friend came to help me and she was thrilled to see my new hive.  She said my original hive already needed the queen excluder and honey super put on top, so I should soon have 40 pounds of honey from that hive.

And Lorraine’s so funny because as we were fooling around with the bees and putting the hive back together she asked, “Are you happy with that table, then?”  I had no idea what she was alluding to, so replied happily “well, I was, but shouldn’t I be?”

It’s one of those metal café tables, but once all three hive boxes are full, that would be 40 pounds times 3, or 120 pounds on the table by fall.  I said I hadn’t even thought of that, and so now I need to look for a sturdy bottom.

Lorraine said why not get a pallet, and I said but that’s ghastly, as then you have to bend right down to the ground.  The way I have this set up I’m eye-level with the top and so can easily work without a backache.  But whatever, as she said you really don’t want to come out one morning with the whole hive smashed, do you?

No, Lorraine, I do not.  So will add that to my list, as I always enjoy a shopping mission.  I’m quite happy to be assigned something to shop for as then I come home with surprises.

Bees and Booze

Can you believe, but I already collected four frames of honey from my hive?  The queen is just fantastic, and I’m extremely proud of her.  I’ll have to keep harvesting on a regular basis because otherwise if the frames are all full of honey, the queen has no place to lay eggs.  So I’ll remove honey-filled frames, then replace with blank ones.

And can you imagine my shock and excitement over the recent realization liquor no longer means migraine?  Over the past many years, I’ve learned even one drink can spike a terrible migraine, and so I’ve been kind of afraid of booze.

However mid-February I went on this incredible nutrient-rich food and supplement intake and 12 weeks later my body had changed.  No more migraines, and a very nice propensity towards being able to hold fairly decent amounts of liquor again.  Woo Hoo!!

Of course it’s a time commitment to shovel all of that down one’s gullet, but it appears to be well worth it.  I’ve lost maybe 5 pounds in the process, so that’s been a bit of encouragement as well.

On Friday my mom and I, and my school friends Phyllis and Maryjoy, attended a memorial for our old high school teacher, and mom’s friend, David Holmes-Smith.  He was my English Literature teacher and therefore very inspirational.

I recall when we read Hamlet I got hold of nearly every copy in the room, crossing out the word Ham and writing in Pig.  I changed Hamlet to Piglet and thought I was extremely witty.  He on the other hand, being Oxford educated, found me and my Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In style musings not very funny.

Tomorrow at 8:00 AM I’m to be at the Okanagan Bee Farm to pick up my ‘nuc’ hive.  That’s a new hive of baby bees with a queen.  Hopefully they’ll make it over the winter as well, and then I should have two, and maybe even three hives by next spring.

My friend Lorraine who’s a seasoned beekeeper’s coming in two weeks to check if there are any ‘queen’ cells.  If so, we can put that frame elsewhere and perhaps start a hive that way.  Soon the property’ll be littered with hives.

In preparation I got another set of hive boxes, screened bottom board, hive cover and 20 frames.  The cost was about $250 so I said to the kid at Buckerfields, “Honey’s still running at about $200 a jar.”  So hopefully in a year or two it’ll get cheaper.

And then joy of joy, you should see my drink options.  I can make Manhattans, tequila sunrises, cosmopolitans, Margaritas, pina coladas, and many more.  It’s quite heady, really and an awful lot more fun than just pouring a glass of wine, as I used to do.

However there are two liquors I simply cannot stand, and those are gin and Scotch.  To me, the former tastes of perfume and the latter of medicine, so not sure how people find those palatable.

My fig tree has 13 figs on it, so I hope they ripen and it makes more.  My dahlias are planted, and so now all I have to do is enjoy.