Stamp Project

When the German Mark was being devalued during and after the second world war, my grampa bought stamps, hoping they’d eventually be valuable.  These were brought over in the wooden crate they packed with their worldly goods, and were shipped along with my gramma and grampa across the ocean to Osoyoos.

As I was growing up I have memories of my grampa sitting at the kitchen table with the stamps, a pair of tweezers and his lupe.  I wasn’t allowed anywhere near them as my grampa explained any damage would ruin their potential value.

These were stored for several decades, and then I took them home and put them into the huge safe I have in the basement.  It’s actually an old vault from a bank, so will never ever leave the basement due to the weight of the thing.

But now, 68 years after my grandparents landed in Osoyoos, I’ve opened the box of stamps, and want to learn more about them.  I thought it must be kismet when I found a stamp reference book at the recent Friends of the Library book sale.

Yesterday I browsed through the book, and Luke came over so I showed him the stamps and the book.  He did some quick math and went, hey, some of these might be worth some money.  So now we’re going to digitise them and put them onto a site and sell them, if possible.

I reminded him they were left in the house in 2003 when we evacuated due to the forest fire, so I said any money made from these is found money.  Not a soul gave a whit about these stamps for almost seven decades, so whatever happens, happens.

Fortunately we’re the type of people who go Huh! when we find out the collection is worth a hundred bucks, at most.  We really don’t cry over spilled milk around here, given the gallons of it that have been splashed about over the decades.

As you know, Jan and I are off to Disneyland, and I’m quite excited about it.  Hopefully the forest fires will have died down a bit by the time we arrive, as I can’t take the stress of having to tell Jan Disneyland is cancelled due to fire.

I sent Jan a message and said now I’ll get us health insurance for the trip.  She replied so adorably, “I think we no sick we go short time, mom”.  Isn’t that cute?  I said to some friends so when she breaks an ankle at Disneyland on the first day, I’ll have to say well you’ll have to hop around until we get on the plane on Friday.

And besides that, I still need to get the three day Disneyland pass and a one day pass for Universal Studios.  The flights and rooms are booked, so now just need the passes and then get some American money, which will be a sad moment at the bank given the appalling change rate.

I’ve already got Denis lined up for December 1 because you know how strict I am about the timing of the outdoor Christmas lights.  We’ll also get the tree that day, as the next day Jan and I are off to the Happiest Place on Earth.  As I write it’s a gray, blustery November day so even the Tea Cup Ride is appealing.

Jan Got Her Visa

Early this year Jan said she wants to go to Disneyland, and as Luke refuses to take her, I said I would happily do it.  So then we discovered she’d need a visa to enter the US as she’s a landed immigrant and holds a Thai passport.  I thought how hard can it be and as it turns out, quite hard.

The worst of it was finding and then filling out the 10 page application form.  It contains many questions about whether or not the applicant is a terrorist, or has any nefarious plans for their visit.  It’s hard to believe anyone would answer yes to those questions.

Sometimes it was the technology of the form that would thwart me, so it took me about 10 days to slowly fill it in.  Then Jan had to get photos taken, which I submitted, and nope, wrong.  So back to Walmart for another set, and this time the photos passed.

After that we received an appointment date and time at the American consulate in Vancouver.  Luke and Jan drove down and back in one day, and Jan joyfully announced the civil servant at the embassy said she was getting the visa.  We were overjoyed.

And now it’s actually come in the mail, and is attached to a page inside her Thai passport.  On the site it seemed to indicate the visa would be good for 120 days, but her expiry date is October 2028, so I said to her it looks like you can travel to the US for the next ten years.

It’s going to be a heady time, as Jan thinks the gremlins in the movie of the same name, are real.  Isn’t that adorable?  So imagine Jan in the Disneyland theme park, or at Universal studios.  This woman is going to come home completely energised from non-stop excitement.

Now I’m going to hunt for cheap flights and then get us the rooms and tickets.  We plan to go sometime between now and Christmas.

And speaking of being ga ga with excitement, my vocal teacher said I’m ready for her to bring in the karaoke machine!  I said oh my God, I’ve never sang karaoke before, so this’ll be great.  I said to Charissa, that reminds me, I wonder if it’s silly for me to buy an amp and microphone?

She said no, not silly at all, and something that’d be tremendous fun.  Can you imagine the neighbours on Hall Road hearing Delta Dawn belted out tunelessly at full volume?  I never in a million years thought retirement would be this much fun.

And then if I find myself over stimulated from my life, I sit down and spend an hour colouring in my colour by number book.  You should try it as it’s surprisingly calming.

We’ve had a fat black bear sleeping at the base of one of the Ponderosa pines on the neighbouring property for the past few days.  He’s very nice and all, but as Nicky said, he really can’t live on Hall Road like that.  I’m surprised he (or she) never discovered my bee hive.

Nicky chased him off by the noise of the chain saw, so let’s hope he’s gone for good.

Paleo Madness

Because I refuse to act like a normal human being and stop eating bad foods in the evenings, I’ve decided to give into it, but try a healthier route.  Thus far I’ve made really quite acceptable ‘paleo’ brownies, fudge and chocolate pudding.  Whether cave people ate these things is debatable.

What I enjoy doing is pounding back huge volumes of those items, and then pretend it’s all good for me.  However I have to say being off sugar and flour is quite a good feeling, and I really don’t miss it given my penchant for stevia.

If you’re cursed with the kind of sweet tooth I have, then stevia’s a godsend.  It’s unfortunate though, as this just aids and abets the staggering amounts of paleo desserts I can consume in an evening.  Oh well, onward we must go in our struggle for the elusive svelte silhouette.

Something that should help are the hikes Margaret and I plan to do, given I’ve lived here for 28 years and have never done any of them so need to get going.  Yesterday was hike #1, which was Lebanon Creek Park, off Lakeshore Drive, which begins with stairs leading straight up for a very long time.

Once at the top the views of the lake and vineyards below are fantastic and well worth the calf-destroying stairs.  I want to return in spring as I could see spent balsam root flowers which would be gorgeous to see in full bloom.

I have so many little kiwis on my bushes, and last year I had the same but ignored them as I thought they should get larger and become brown and fuzzy.  I finally Googled hardy kiwis, and it turns out they remain grape-sized and are a pale tan colour and never develop the fur.

The site said once they’re soft, they’re ready.  I squeezed one and sure enough, it was soft, so I bit into it, and there was indeed the quintessential bright green interior with the telltale black seeds, and so they’re mini kiwis.  Sweet and tasty, so I was quite surprised to know I now grow kiwis.

I also still have raspberries ripening, but we’re definitely at the end of those as well as the figs, which I’ve eaten daily for the past few weeks.  I put a couple into a salad I made for Margaret and me and they were a nice addition.

Luke’s on a strict keto diet and eats nothing but butter-filled coffee, bacon, more meat and a lot of fat.  He’s lost over 20 pounds in a month so we know that kind of diet works, however if you recall I tried it in June and felt sick so had to stop it despite losing five pounds in about three days.

I’ll just slug it out with the paleo diet, and that way I get to eat things like the delicious fudge made with coconut oil, cocoa, almond butter, stevia and orange flavouring.  Once it’s cold I cut it into squares and sprinkle it with seat salt.  I then devour it quickly because it’s quite melty due to the coconut oil.

I’ve offered my paleo desserts to Luke, but one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Lots to do in the Okanagan

Margaret and I decided to start September off right so planned a day trip to Summerland.  The weather was perfect and the traffic was light, even though it was the Labour Day weekend.

We started at the adorable Summerland Sweets store where I bought too much stuff, as usual.  Besides their usual jams and syrups they sell other products made locally.  I bought one of their jams and a raspberry wine, as well as fancy mustard and chocolate-covered dried fruit.

We continued on the road and stopped at the Dirty Laundry Winery, which is one of my favourite winery settings.  The Kettle Valley steam train’s tracks run right by it, and on our way out we were lucky to see it pass right by us on the road.  We want to take the train ride on our next Summerland visit.

I bought some cheese at the winery, and we both lamented the empty restaurant, given how cute it would be to sit there.  However we had other plans, and decided next summer we’d return to have a nice lunch on their beautiful patio.

After a brief stop at the Grasslands Nursery, we went to the Summerland Research Station’s Ornamental Gardens.  What a gorgeous place that is, and also has beautiful vistas and benches set around so you could have a nice picnic lunch there.  Again, we planned to do that on another visit.

Our final stop was Zia’s Stonehouse Restaurant where we had lunch, and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and the very reasonable prices.  We had a helpful waiter and the whole experience was a positive one.

Then last week my pal Sharon asked if I wanted to join her at the Kelowna Art Gallery as they have a special show on right now of someone’s private collection.  It includes Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet and many others.  Image owning that collection!

So I said sure, and then our friend Carol said she also wanted to join us so the three of us met there and spent an hour at the gallery.  This was followed by lunch at the Cactus Club which is a mighty nice place to sit on a sunny day, especially lakeside, as we were.

Tomorrow it’s Happy Hour at the Eldorado with Petra and Sharon, and that’s another nice establishment where one can be seated right at the lake.  I don’t want anyone to try and tell me there’s nothing to do in the Okanagan.

I had my second singing lesson, and we worked on the themes from Gilligan Island and the Monkees.  Charissa’s around 30, and had heard the Gilligan Island theme, but never the other, so it was fun to do together.  By the end of the year she’ll be a 1960’s TV theme song maven.

Thrift shopping continues.  Since the children have assured me all of my stuff’s going straight into the dumpster when I die, I didn’t feel bad about buying a bronze statue of two horses with one of the tails missing, as it’s all going to be thrown out anyway.  And besides, I don’t mind as I have it positioned perfectly so no one will even notice.

Czech Queen is Dead

As you may recall, I bought a mated queen from a Czechoslovakian beekeeper at the end of July, and I put her into my queenless hive.  She chewed through the marshmallow plug and escaped her cage, so I felt hopeful as she obviously must’ve made her way into the hive.

Lorraine came last week to help me inspect, and sadly, the Czech queen is dead!  There was some three-week old capped brood, but nothing recent, indicating she tried to lay some eggs, but then died or was killed.  Bummer.

I now have to order yet another ‘nuc’ hive for next spring.  No one tried harder than Lorraine and me to get that second hive going.  I’d put in a frame from the old hive, she’d put in a frame.  Then she put in a whole box of frames.  Finally we put in the mated queen, and still nothing.

Like the gardener’s cry of “next year!” I find it applies well to beekeeping too.  Hope springs eternal and all of that.

And speaking of hope, I’ve taken my first singing lesson, and just loved it, so have signed up for a full year.  I met the nice teacher yesterday and at the end of the first lesson I asked if she thought there was any hope, and she replied “of course!”  So let’s see what happens with that.

As you may know, I like to belt out songs at any opportune moment, yet the singing is not so good in that it’s mostly flat and out of key.  I said to Charissa, all I want is to be able to hold a tune, and to complete a song in the same key I began in, which she felt was all doable.

After the lesson I was invited to my friend Carol’s on the west side, and had to fight heavy traffic to get there, given the invite was for Happy Hour.  But it was worth it as I just adore her home on the edge of Glen Canyon.  We could hear the coyotes howling at the bottom of it.

She’s taken decades of Tai Chi and Qi Gong and I said I’d love to do that, too.  I looked at a class here in Kelowna, and it appears the beginner class would entail two lessons a week.  I’m torn, given my need to go to Osoyoos every two weeks to visit mom, to fit these in.

I now have weekly singing and chiropractor, then add the twice a week Tai Chi plus monthly Reiki and you can see a scheduling problem.  Who knew retirement would be this busy?

I bought some so-called “cull” peaches from Pacific Fruit Stand which are just 30 cents a pound as they’re very ripe, so have some bruises.  I don’t care, as I made two batches of lovely peach relish, as per Petra’s recipe.

However because I won’t be brought to heel by a recipe I usually decide to substitute for items I don’t have.  The fruit stand didn’t have chilli peppers, as called for, but instead had jalapenos.  As a result, I have what I’ve now labelled Spicy Peach Relish.  It’s HOT.

Now I’m Annoying to those who Work

Our friend Jim and his friend Lorrin came to stay with mom for two nights, so I went down there for one of them.  Jim works like a crazy person, so I now find I can annoy people just by saying “and here I am, with absolutely nothing to do all day!”  Mom tried to help by saying “but you’re busy….”

Here’s the kind of things I’m busy with.  I went to a dollar store and bought an assortment of funny cat and dog toys for Louie.  The two little mice I bought make a funny sound whenever they’re touched, and I got a squeaky mink and a pink pig that makes crinkling sounds when bitten.

Louie loved all of it, and became particularly perturbed when the little device that makes the noise came out of one of the mice, and continued to make its noise whenever touched.  He would bite the mink and look puzzled, trying to figure it all out.  At one point the little device got under his bed and he went berserk.

Other things that captivate my time include making nice food for mom, which I then freeze and take to her whenever I visit so all she has to do is microwave.  I’m never out of chocolate or coconut, as I seem to be on a constant bender of macaroon production.

I made them for my pal Petra in the spring, and as her son Kevin and wife Cindi were visiting, they ate them and said they were fantastic.  I was invited over again on Saturday, and they were also going to be there, so I knew damn well I couldn’t arrive minus them, so I didn’t disappoint.

Further time is consumed by watering and dead-heading, as well as cutting mature dahlia blooms and putting them into vases around the house.  Now that Margaret lives here I Google restaurants in Okanagan towns and make plans for day trips we can take.

Naturally thrift shopping remains a constant, and I never come home anything other than exhilarated.  I think it must be what keeps golfers going.  The other week I got a Calvin Klein jumpsuit for $10.00.

One can’t write well without reading, so part of each day is consumed with that.  I’m in the midst of that older novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, and am enjoying being in 1930’s Japan.  I pity the fool who doesn’t read.

If bored, I tackle one of the Liberals or mom’s assignments.  As the Events Coordinator for the local Liberal riding association, I have to book us into things and then make sure we’re stocked with all the buttons and brochures.

Right now mom wants a ‘heritage style’ queen sized, off-white bedspread, so that’s quite the assignment.  I went to the Bay and Walmart, then looked at Amazon and Wayfair and can see it’s going to be a time-consuming challenge.

That’s why when mom said I was busy, I replied “yes but it’s all things of my own choosing.”  I’ve wanted to be at home since I had to go to school at age 6, so I’ve waited an awfully long time for this and plan to wallow in it.  Jim’s going to have to wait his turn.

Cat Transport

I went to Maple Ridge this past weekend and stayed with Freddie and Twig, and it was marvellous.  My brother Freddie is absolutely hilarious.  As a bonus, their pool is kept at 90 degrees so it’s a pleasure to hang out in it, gently floating or breast-stroking around.

My friend Beverly came out for the day on Sunday and after a delicious lunch at my niece’s Julie’s, we came home to two hours in the pool.  The weather was divine as well, so all in all it was a great visit.

The goal of the trip, however, was to transport Margaret’s cat, Cole, to Kelowna.  I’d promised her I’d do that as she said her nerves wouldn’t take the yowling for the entire trip.  I asked if she could make it to Maple Ridge, and she could, so we met there and I put Cole and his cage on my back seat.

I was steeling myself for the next four hours, but I only heard a few feeble mews about half an hour after driving off.  After a couple of hours of silence I’d convinced myself Cole had died of the heat or a heart attack, and so I pulled over to check.  There he was, all calm, just staring back at me.

He did the feeble mewing about three different times on the trip, and each time I just said here puss puss puss puss here puss puss puss, and he stopped.  I also played ABBA’s greatest hits, so when I arrived I said to Margaret I think he just likes ABBA or something.

However before even being able to leave for Maple Ridge, I had to drive up Glenmore Road past the dump to pick up a mated queen bee.  Lorraine said it’s likely the safest and surest way to get that second hive going, so I said okay, and contacted the seller.

He said you have to come on Saturday, to which I replied but I have to drive to Maple Ridge on Saturday.  He, being the single-minded type, said if you don’t come Saturday by the time you get here the queen will be dead.  Dramatic people always get what they want, as on Saturday morning I drove there and got the damn queen.

She came in a little plastic cage surrounded by two or three worker bees who would tend to her while she was in there.  There was a tube attached and this was plugged with marshmallow.  I took the cage and bees home, fashioned a paper clip into a hanger, and put the queen into my second hive.

This morning when I went out to check, sure enough the marshmallow was eaten and the bees were gone, so I have a queen in that hive. Surely this is going to work.  But you know how gardening and bee keeping can go around here.

So now Margaret lives in Kelowna, just a nine minute drive from here, and I’m finding this very appealing.  I like to imagine the things we can do, as she plans to make more videos of me and the bees, and hopefully with both our brains involved we might find a way to conquer WordPress and get videos added to this blog.

In the meantime I’ve picked the last of my apricots and red currants and plan to spend a day making jam.  I thank God for air conditioning as it’s 35 degrees C right now.