Thursday, September 28, 2006
I have never been able to explain my love of autumn.
Yesterday morning, while having my coffee on the deck, I watched the sunrise touch the peaks with gold as the light crept down the slopes across the lake.
The mountains are now rimmed with the flaming colour of the larch trees as they prepare to shed their needles for winter's hibernation.
I can hear the honking of the geese as they wing their way north... they will fly north in the fall when searching for food while on their journey south.
The leaves are piling up in the yard and I can now see all the way to the road.
I've been busy in the kitchen stocking, storing, making preserves, spaghetti sauce and baking pumpkin pies.
The true sign of fall in my neighbourhood is when the Kokanee salmon begin their run upstream to their spawning grounds.
Our creek is directly across the road and, if we had a larger property, it could be considered as running through our front yard...
I spent quite a while this afternoon sitting on the creek bank watching those amazing fish struggle doggedly against the current, driven entirely by instinct.
Their skin has turned a bright red and their lower jaws have grown outwards and upwards in the typical way of a spawning salmon.
Kokanee are a fresh water fish, so they never make it as far as the ocean after hatching, preferring large lakes in which to live out their four year life cycle.
We are being visited by different kinds of birds as they pass through on their way south and their unique calls are carried upon the tangy autumn breezes.
Bear sightings are more common now, as they hurriedly search for sustenance to bring them through hibernation.
The deer are beginning to congregate, although only the does and fawns are prevalent - it is hunting season and the bucks know to remain hidden at this time of year.
Now that I think of it, I may just have explained my love of autumn!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Some of you were wondering what a potato gun is.
Before I go any further into my explanation, I would like it to be known that this instrument belongs firmly within the realms of the male psyche. It is one of many bonding rituals between men that occur around the world - another example being the ceremonial Australian barbeque circle of which Margie has spoken.
I believe the making of any particular potato gun begins with a touch of boredom on the men's part. While we women are busy with the housework, the cooking and the caring for the children, the boys are looking for something to do...
Hence, they seek out a long piece of PVC tubing, an assortment of plastic items that resemble bathroom plumbing and, of course, the all-important striker. It also involves a fair amount of drilling holes, gluing, taping and fitting all the above pieces together into something that resembles, well... a piece of bathroom plumbing. Once the gun has been assembled, it is the women's turn to be invloved when their male counterparts come searching for hair spray - the kind that has the distinct warning... keep away from open flame.
The firing instructions are as follows - place the potato over the end of the barrel and beat on it until the barrel has cut a hole through the vegetable. Use a broom handle, dowel or curtain rod to ram the spud plug down into the barrel. Go to a safe place - away from small children and pets. Spray one to two second's worth of hair spray into the open clean-out end of the chamber. Quickly screw the cap on the clean-out, aim high and give the striker a flick. Immediately a sound akin to a small sonic boom will follow, with one good-sized potato taking flight in the direction the gun is pointed.
As with most male bonding customs, it is quite simple...
* Many thanks to the Jersey Coast Sports Fliers page for the photo and to Steve's Potato Gun Page for the firing directions.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
...your kids come home from school with bear alert notices.
In the late summer/early fall the bears are hungry and fattening themselves up to prepare for the long winter hibernation.
They feast on the ripe wild chokecherries, saskatoon and huckleberries and raid the local apple, pear, cherry and plum trees.
Residents are forced to lock down their garbage to prevent marauding bears from rooting through the refuse.
Bear sightings in the autumn are frequent.
The most common are the smaller black bears that flourish in the valley.
Grizzly bears prefer the high country and sightings are less common, but they will travel to lower elevations to find food at this time of year.
A black bear would rather run when encounted by a human, but a grizzly would not hesitate to attack in order to protect its territory and its young.
Last Friday evening, while on our bike ride, we encountered bear signs, such as scat (poo) and hair, along the trail.
I also heard a bear's distict woof from across the gully as we rode along the ridge, and we made certain that we caused as much noise as possible so not to surprise any dangerous wildlife along the way.
I have discovered that singing and mountain biking can be a challenge, especially when pedaling up a long, steep grade...
At the same time, my husband found himself stranded at the post golf tournament party when his ride left him there.
He decided to walk the seven or eight miles home, but had to do a bit of bushwacking in order to reach the highway.
Along the way he met a black bear...
"Yikes, a bear!", thought he.
"Yikes, a drunk golfer!", thought the bear.
The bear crashed off into the bush in one direction and my husband fled in the opposite, ripping the seat from his pants while leaping a barbed wire fence and skidding down the hill, before reaching the edge of the road.
Luckily enough, a kind motorist gave him a ride home the rest of the way.
This is a fine example of some of the challenges we encounter here in the mountains...
Saturday, September 16, 2006
This is the view from our back porch this morning.
It began raining during the night on Wednesday and the temperature dropped to five degrees C down here in the valley.
Apparently it is even colder at higher elevations...
On Monday I wore a summer dress and sandals to work - in my air conditioned office.
Last evening I went mountain biking wearing long biking pants, a fleece sweater, followed by a sleeveless vest and a heavy duty windbreaker over that.
My bike rides have been few and far between this year - life has a tendency of getting in the way.
A couple of years ago there was a group of us who used to meet every Friday evening for what else - the Friday Night Ride.
This week we decided to gather a few souls together for a ride, but in the end there was only a group of two that tackled the wet, slippery trails.
My husband opted to golf in a tournament instead, another couple were out of town, and others had prior committments.
So it was down to me and another buddy to hold to the Friday tradition.
We almost decided against riding because of the rain, but we were already at the trailhead and pushed on despite the wet.
It was great to be on the trails again - I've missed it.
After the ride we drank our requisite glacier fresh Kokanee then headed back into town for the best pizza our world has to offer.
The evening was topped off by a warm, soothing soak in the hot tub.
I cannot think of a better way to end the week and begin the weekend.
Unless it's skiing...
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I will now let the cat out of the bag - I am famous.
The paparazzi came banging on my door last week with cameras flashing.
Well, one reporter from our local newspaper came with her dog...
Somehow word got out that I had done a sketch of Pete Townshend and sent it to him for his sixtieth birthday. That is true.
Apparently it got blown completely out of proportion and it was later rumoured that Pete was my real father. Not true - I borrowed that from Neil.
What did get rumoured was that I have a blog site and have been known to rub shoulders with such celebrities as Rachel Fuller and Pete Townshend, Gypsy Noir, VallyP, Koos F, Anne-Marie, Neilbymouth, Mary Beth, Lannio, Delbut, Metal Chick, Greek Zoe, MargieCM, Bex, PTfan, Marietta, numerous family pets and Angus Young...
You see, I live in a very small town and news is often hard to come by. Hence the article about me and my shoulder rubs.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to finish eating my bowl of chicken skin.
...we famous people can do eccentric things like that.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I might be slightly off my usual topic here, but I feel very sad about another friend passing at, what appears to be, before his time.
As a lover of animals and wildlife, I would like to celebrate one of the world's most charismatic characters, Steve Irwin - aka The Crocodile Hunter.
Steve's life was entirely dedicated to the preservation of wildlife and to the education of the world on that subject. His methods were rather unconventional and, at times controversial, but he was able to get his point across through his youthful exuberance and genuine passion for his work.
Last weekend Steve died as a result of an injury sustained while swimming in the ocean with several sting rays. Apparently he was stabbed in the chest by a ray's tail barb that pierced his heart.
If nothing else, Steve died doing what he loved...
My son, Bobby, has followed The Crocodile Hunter's antics and teachings since he was one year old. He was deeply saddened by the news, but he will be sure to carry on Steve's enthusiastic interest in his own way.
Our prayers, thoughts and blessings go out to Steve's wife, Terry, and two young children, Bindy and Bob and to all his family and friends.
It seems there are too many special ones leaving us too early...
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I rose with Beth so I could drive her to work for her morning shift.
The sun was beginning to light the eastern sky over the Rockies range and shafts of light were piercing the air as though from some giant's flashlight shone skyward between the peaks.
The Purcell range to the west was glowing a soft pink that gradually grew in intensity, turning to orange then blue and finally bringing to relief the green velvet carpet of trees interrupted only by the folds of the draws and the rocky outcrops.
I drove along the highway with a genuine, if not goofy, smile upon my countenance - it was a lovely beginning to what promises to be a wonderful day in the mountains.
On my way home I stopped in at my friends' home to check on their two budgie birds and four goldfish - their owners having given me the key to look after their house and livestock while on a three-week visit to Italy.
The wee feathered fellows chirped, and chattered at me while I cleaned their cages and refilled their water and food bowls.
The fish in the pond said nothing...
The house is quiet now with only the clatter of the keyboard to keep me company.
George will be awakening soon to take the boys out onto the lake in hopes of catching a rising trout for breakfast.
Our friends from the city are tucked away in dreamland with their son in the cosy camper the garden - we have discovered that our parked camper trailer makes an excellent guest house!
I retired early last night in order to greet the dawn this morning.
Friday evening was very late, as we had two sets of friends from out of town show up at the same time.
The usual mayhem followed, along with the required consumption of wine that must accompany the fifty-first birthday of one of our guests.
But playing until two o'clock in the morning makes for a long day, since I had risen at five o'clock the previous morning and worked all day.
I was tired and feeling rather testy yesterday and, finding my house covered in root beer after emerging from my shower, did nothing to improve my mood.
Apparently the children had had a wee bit of an accident.
I did take advantage of some time to pout while the rest of the crowd went to the beach.
...as I cleaned up the table, the floor, the door, the walls...
Today appears to hold great promise and I look forward to relaxing in the sunny garden and reading a good book - after hiding the root beer.
Friday, September 01, 2006
This is my own version of Castles in the Air...
This peak was named in 1858 in response to its fortress-like appearance.
In a post WWII visit by the U.S. president, it was renamed Mount Eisenhower, but public pressure forced its name back to Castle Mountain in 1983. An isolated pinnacle at the southeastern end is now called Eisenhower Tower.
Castle Mountain is located along the eastern ridge of the Bow River Valley in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada approximately half way between the towns of Banff and Lake Louise.
While traveling east from British Columbia, the first sight we see of the Bow Valley is of the mountain's massive western-facing ramparts as we begin to descend from the summit of Storm Mountain Pass.
It is truly one of the great wonders our world has on display.
Many thanks to Val for offering me the inspiration for this post!