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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.

The Lipoma

You may recall a while ago I said I’d watched an interesting autopsy of an obese woman on Netflix.  It helped me visualise the layer of yellow fat that resides immediately beneath my skin and coats my entire carcass.  So imagine my surprise to learn that fat can also form itself into a nice tidy lump called a lipoma.

I went to the doctor and said what is this, and she felt it and said “it’s a lipoma.”  I had already Googled lumps so this word wasn’t new to me.  I had fully discounted it however, going for the more glamorous diagnosis of a colon cancer or something of that nature.

However my old doc said she has them too, and allowed me to feel one on the underside of her forearm.  She indicated it’s just another nasty side effect of ageing and to ignore it.  If I had a lump on my arm I think I would, but as it’s in my abdomen it’s kind of annoying.

We’ll see.  I have to live with the knowledge I have an egg-sized lump of hard yellow fat living quite happily among my organs.  And imagine how incensed they are after all these years to suddenly have to shift over and make room for this interloper.

For my birthday my friend Carol gave me a vintage drink shaker, and it has recipes printed on the outside of it.  I decided to try a whiskey sour the other day and man, are they tasty!  I haven’t had one in years, and made it with Canadian Club so maybe that was the secret.

I rarely ever lose anything, and so when I do I go mental.  The other day I was at the hairdresser, and showed her the price tag on the leather purse I’d bought at the SPCA thrift store last year.  It was from California, and the tag said $315.  I got the bag for $10.

Hence one of my greatest joys when someone said “nice bag” was to pull out the tag and say “look at this, and weep.”  That’s just one of the strange quirks of the thrift store shopper, we love to scream out the price we paid.  It’s some kind of hubris, I know.

Anyway, I got home and discovered I’d lost the price tag and was heart broken, so e mailed the hairdresser.  She replied she hadn’t seen it.  I was crestfallen, and then the next day she e mailed and said can you believe it, but when I left the building and looked down, it was right there on the street.

I said just put me down as a mental case, as who goes this crazy over losing a price tag?  She kindly said she’d keep it for me until our next visit.

But when it’s this hot there’s nothing better than to enter an air conditioned thrift store and browse around.  I thought I’d do that at Value Village the other day, and left with a bra, two pairs of shoes and 3 cookie tins.  However at $18 I felt it was probably okay to do that.

And it’s not the money that’s the problem, it’s the volume of stuff I haul home.  The other day I had to buy a lion and lioness ceramic statuette at the Sally Ann, and then do the usual wandering around the house for an hour trying to place it somewhere.  Enough already.

Re-Queening a Hive is Hard

Lorraine, my beekeeping mentor, came over today with a young woman who recently acquired a hive.  As you may recall, I moved a frame of brood into my empty hive, hoping to start a new one, but no luck.  Then at the end of May when Lorraine came over, she tried with another frame, but today when we inspected, we could see there’s still no queen in there.

Without a queen it just won’t work and sure enough we had a lot of dead bees and ants in the bottom which isn’t a good sign.  So Lorraine thought what the heck, this time let’s move a full box of 10 frames over and stick it on the crummy hive and see what happens.

She said I have a 50-50 chance of starting a new hive, so let’s see if this finally works.  If not, then it’s proving to be an extremely difficult thing to do.  But surely, in nature, bees know how to make a new queen when one is needed.  However so far they’re remaining obstinate and refusing to do it.

Today was one of those ungodly hot Okanagan days, so at several points I had to either stand in the shade, or else walk away and remove my hood to wipe my eyes as I had salty sweat stinging them.  That’s definitely one of the downsides to beekeeping: it’s bloody hot.

But then I thought I should be glad, as I started a low carb diet eleven days ago, and so I figure with all this sweat I should drop a pound or two just from that.  It’s so extremely slow to lose weight at this age it’s almost a physics puzzle.

For example, when my usual fat self, I eat like a horse, and just hold the gargantuan size or else gain a bit.  However when I finally decide that’s it, and cut out all of those things I love to eat, my body goes nah ah.  Nope.  And it takes days and days of very little food, and all of it low carb, and then the needle on the scale moves ever so glacially to the left. Why?

I’m happy to say Margaret’s bought a condo and is moving to Kelowna to work at UBC Okanagan.  She’s very excited to become a homeowner and I’m happy too as now we can fly out of here together on any future jaunts.

The only fly in the ointment for Margaret is her 10 year old cat, who makes that very loud yowling sound when locked in a kennel in a car.  She said she could move to Kelowna if someone moved the cat for her, so I said I can move him.  I’ll therefore have to head down there end of July to pick up kitty, and hope to arrive in Kelowna with my mind intact.

I spent a couple of hours at the Liberal tent on Canada Day as a volunteer to hand out buttons.  We were stationed right near the lagoon at the Grand Hotel, and it was a stormy day.  Suddenly a gale kicked up, blowing all written materials from our tables and scattering other people’s tents.  Luckily ours held.

And so the summer goes, with bees, cat plans, and Liberal events.  And in case I thought I’d ever remain alone, Nicky wants to sell his place and move back home.

Confusion over Retirement

The confusion comes from thinking I’d better hurry to do whatever things I have on my list of chores, and then realise I have all the time in the world, so why panic?  I guess it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment after 40 odd years of working to truly understand my time is my own.  Scary.

So the days pass in a general haze of grocery shopping, house cleaning, gardening and cooking for mom.  That’s now one of my main activities, and it’s quite an enjoyable one.  When I visit mom I fill a large cooler with individually frozen meals as well as things she likes like muffins.

Margaret visited on the weekend, and I made a vat of butter chicken.  I had a lot left over and so I was able to freeze some of that and will take it to mom.  I should’ve made it a bit hotter as Jan was quite perplexed by the lack of heat.  Certainly I could never make it to her heat standards as it would kill everyone else.

Luke and Nicky went to Osoyoos on the weekend, and camped at the beach below mom’s.  Dan, AKA The Boarder, met them there, and then Dan’s whole family showed up so it was a merry time in the rain, but in tents, and Nicky said they built a roaring fire.

I was certainly glad of the rain as it meant I didn’t have to water the containers and some beds.  I’m very fussy about how my dahlias are watered as I don’t want a sprinkler shooting into them, weighing them down and breaking them due to their large blooms.  So my dahlias are all hand watered.

One of the dahlias is about to bloom, so once we get back into some sun and heat it’ll open and I can see which colour and shape it is.  I surprise myself each year as I never label them, so when I plant the bulbs I have no idea what kind I’ve planted in the various areas of the garden.  I then wait with giddy excitement to see where they bloom.

George comes in in the mornings quite beaten up around the face.  He has scabs on his nose and ear and isn’t even one year old yet.  I wonder if he’s out there fighting around with other cats or if he’s just being pecked by helpless birds as they try to avoid being eaten.  He’s a voracious hunter as is his sister.

Fuji’s here most days, and as I write this all four animals are fast asleep.  The cats are getting their strength for the night time outings of fighting and hunting and the dogs are waiting for their “dinner” which occurs at 3:00 PM.

One new addiction I’ve noticed since being retired is my addiction to You Tube.  I don’t have cable, so I just watch the shows the next day.  I’m really fine with that, as I wouldn’t be awake for the Late Show with Steven Colbert.  However every single day I watch it starting around the dog’s dinner hour.

Naturally this leads to no good as by 4:00 PM one thinks oh heck the sun’s under the yardarm so what’s better than a cocktail?  I start to cook my dinner and then settle in to several more hours of You Tube shows and docs, as well as Netflix’ offerings.  And then if I feel bad about it all, I say, but you’re retired.  You can do whatever you damn well please, so I do.