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.

Hive Update

My pal Lorraine came over the other day to help me inspect the hives and to see if I actually managed to start a second one.  You’ll recall I forgot one frame of brood after reversing the hives, so decided to try and start a new one using that frame.  I also noticed a queen cell on the lid of the old hive so stuck that on top and hoped for the best.

As soon as we inspected it we could see a lot of drone brood but no queen.  So Lorraine inspected the large hive, which is really healthy, and from there she selected another frame of brood and moved it into the new hive.  She said we just have to keep doing that until eventually they give in and make a new queen.

An easier way to do it would be to pay $35 for a queen and just throw her in there but that’s not my style of beekeeping.  I said to Lorraine in the wild they make a queen as no one introduces one for them, so that’s what’s going to be the Hall Road beekeeping style: all natural.

And speaking of ‘au naturel’ I was recently in Osoyoos as Gerry’s son David came to visit from Virginia.  He brought his lovely new girlfriend with him, and she’s a super nice person and we all got along beautifully.

Mom had told us our canoe had gotten away during the recent floods and a neighbour had called to say she had rescued it for us.  David said he’d like to paddle the canoe home so I said let’s go and walk down to their place and see if the paddles are there, and if not new ones have to be bought.

The three of us sauntered down to the house, and were greeted warmly as they’re long time Osoyoos residents.  They keep their yard and lawn as well as their house in a casual, natural manner.  I suppose their lifestyle might be described by some as Bohemian.

We visited briefly and then left to walk on the road beside the length of hedge which obscures their house.  As we walked by one of them said “that was weird.”  And we enjoyed that comment all the way home as one always thinks the other person is the odd one.

The garden remains as mentally challenging as ever.  Some of the dahlias are coming up, and some aren’t, which is annoying.  The fig tree’s spindly and I think needs a good pruning.  Ditto with the poor apricot which leans to one side and this year is laden with apricots so will likely break at some point.

I was digging in the lower garden and was suddenly swarmed by those small, black, ground dwelling wasps.  I was stung on my upper thigh and ran for the house as fast as my fat little legs could get me there.  They’re so vicious they’ll follow for quite a while.

And then due to the flooding we have an awful lot of large mosquitoes about.  I can barely do one stationary job without being swarmed.  If I have to tie up a rose bush branch and it takes more than 30 seconds I have a dozen on my arms.

But I can take a hint and use that as the signal it’s time to come in and have a cocktail.

The Accident Prone World of the Gardener

I believe I’ve fallen either four or five times in this yard.  The other day I was going to weed whack the lawn’s edges, and had on runners and not the usual flip flops, so you’d think I’d be extra safe.  However mom always called me a bull in a China shop, and it’s quite true, I do seem to be good at ramming into things.

Luke was getting his useless car ready for sale, and I was shouting over my shoulder at him I wanted that thing out of the garage as soon as possible.  In this moment of ire I tumbled over my own feet and fell right down, slamming my knee, hand and chin into the ground.

Luke ran over saying “mom are you okay?” and I stood up, bleeding from three areas, and said “yeah, I’m fine, but can you continue the weed whacking?” and went into the house to bandage the various areas.  Soon after I was back out, killing myself working in the yard.

It’s a strange obsession, and I’m quite surprised at the hours per day I put into it now that I’m retired.  I suppose I’m still getting the hang of being retired, too, so can’t believe my good fortune in having all of every minute of every day to myself.

Well nearly.  I do have to tend to mom who had a terrible cold but was given antibiotics by the doctor to ward off pneumonia.  She’s now okay, and I went to Osoyoos for Mother’s Day and made a nice lunch for us.  A family friend came too, and I made chocolate bread pudding for dessert which we all wolfed with manic delight.

And I did spend time with helping Jan look for a new job, but luckily she’s very employable and it took less than three days for her to find one.  She’s been cooking for a very long time and wanted to get into a new line of work, and has just been hired by the Coast Capri as a room attendant.

I took her to the interview, and the head housekeeper said as much as she appreciated me coming along, she wanted to see if she could understand Jan, and if Jan could understand her.  I said “consider me invisible.  I won’t speak.”  I then proceeded to observe the interview which was going along quite well.

Then the woman said to Jan, “would you mind being cross trained in both laundry and house keeping?”  I saw the wheels turning in Jan’s head.  She must’ve wondered what a lot of that meant, and hesitated, but finally said wherever they want her to work, that’s where she’ll work.

I’m often reminded of Manuel, the waiter in the old British TV show called Fawlty Towers.  He couldn’t understand a word of English and it was hilarious.  Please Google it and watch a few episodes if you’ve never seen it.

When Beverly was here for her recent visit with her pug she kindly helped me weed some of the so-called gout weed out of my beds.  We decided if I do this for one hour each day, someday I’ll be rid of that menace.

I foolishly planted it 20 years ago when it looked so nice around the base of a neighbour’s tree.  Little did I know it’d escape and take over every single square inch of my flower beds.  So it’s a good thing I’m now retired, isn’t it?

I May Have Started a New Bee Hive

As you may know, my smaller bee hive didn’t make it through the winter.  I did some research on dividing a hive, and it all sounded kind of complicated.  One needs to find frames with brood and nurse bees and then somehow acquire a queen.  I thought it seemed awfully complicated an antithetical to bees in the wild.

My old hive is going great guns, and constantly makes queen cells just because they always want to swarm.  It’s a very full hive, so I went down the other day and decided to reverse the frames, and see if I could start a new hive using queen cells.

This hive is mean and aggressive, and I had to suit up entirely.  I went down with my smoker lit, took off the lid, and began to remove the frames.  Many were coated in capped brood and bees, and I placed them down on the ground.

I got an empty box and returned all of the frames, then got the other hive box and placed it on top.  To my annoyance and dismay, I noticed I had forgotten one frame, and it was filled with brood and bees.

So I thought oh why not, and got a new hive box, put in the frame of brood, and then added some frames for them to fill.  The lid from the old hive box contained a queen cell, so I stuck it on top, thinking good luck, bees.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, and so it’s kind of exciting.  Will there be another airplane engine noise in my yard, signalling another swarm?  Will they actually make a queen in my new hive?  To be continued.

I transplanted my fig, which has been in the greenhouse for about a month and already has pea-sized baby figs.  It’s now so heavy I had to go and buy a dolly as there’s no way I can lift it into the wheel barrow.  But it’s worth it as I’m crazy over that tree.

My niece Julie and her family came to Osoyoos to visit mom, so I arrived on Friday with a cooler filled with food for the event.  They have a 4 year old girl and 18 month old boy who are both adorable, so I tried to think of kid-friendly food.

On Friday I made lasagne, and Saturday chicken with vegetables in a white sauce over spaghetti.  I’d made a chocolate zucchini and a banana loaf, so we had that on had for dessert, though on Saturday I made bread pudding which everyone loved.

Let’s just say it wasn’t a weekend suitable for celiacs.  We had friends Stu and Martha for lunch on Saturday and I made a potato salad, devilled eggs, ham, salami, homemade chicken pate and sliced bread.  A lot of carbs were consumed over the nearly 48 hours.

Back to a tiny steak and a large amount of vegetables for dinner in the hopes of undoing some of the caloric ravages.  My stomach once again resembles that of the American president.

And tomorrow Beverly, my friend of 40 years, is coming with her pug for a couple of days of R and R, which will involve thrift store shopping.  I very much doubt I’ll be on any kind of a restricted food program, so I remain fascinated at where all this will end.