I woke up next to a Senior Citizen

Many years ago when my Dad turned 65, his brother gave him a T-shirt that said ‘I’m 65, now give me my Damn Discount’. Dad wore it on the day of his Birthday, but I never saw him in it again. When he passed away not that many years later I found the shirt in his drawer, neatly folded and looking like it was never worn. Dad wasn’t much for pulling anything over his head, and did pretty well everything in a Button Down collared shirt. Different Generation.

I wish I had kept that shirt, as today it’s Sylvia’s turn to be eligible to wear it. With the usual restaurants in our neighbourhood closed for Covid, it is going to be a quiet celebration. And as the only thing she wanted for her Birthday was to spend it with her Son, Daughters in Law and Grandkids not happening either, I guess it will be just another winter day. She won’t even let me make a Cake, as we have stuffed ourselves with Christmas Baking, but still have lots left. Lots of Hugs and singing of Happy Birthday will have to do.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Merry Christmas to you ALL!

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2020, What can we say?

First of all, we want to wish each and everyone of you a Very Merry Christmas.

That includes all of the Friends and Neighbours we have kept in close physical contact with this year (well, that includes approximately NONE of you), our close relatives who we have seen over the Summer and Fall (again, that includes virtually nobody as we have certainly not seen our Kids and Grandkids enough this year), and finally all of you who have kept track of us via Email, Facebook, Zoom, Skype, Messenger, and Facetime over the course of the year (and that would include virtually everyone in this audience).

While we certainly are not living quite the life we expected to in the Winter of 2020, Sylvia and I have been surviving the enforced isolation that it requires quite well. We actually do enjoy each other’s company and looking at each other (and only each other) day after day has not been a burden. I realize however that folks who are not as naturally introverted as I am are not faring so well under these circumstances.

Not being able to drive to our Winter home in Arizona has been a disappointment, mostly because we are not able to visit with the many friends we have made there. Although the reports we have heard indicate that nothing much is happening in our Resort anyway. Being a Hermit is not just a Canadian Pastime this winter. It has also meant that we have had to purchase a bunch of new Christmas Decorations as we took everything to Arizona as we were not going to be home for Christmas for several years….Right??20201123_173956

Leaving our Arizona home vacant for more than 18 months is going to be hard but being home in BC has its advantages. Sylvia now has her very own new Snow Shovel, boots, Scarf, Balaclava, and AWD vehicle as we purchased a Rav4 Hybrid to get her around in. Although I refuse to purchase Snow Tires as we’re not going to be here for very many Winters….Right?

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Even Rod has a new Jacket, Gloves and a Scarf, as his old stuff seemed to have disappeared in the decade since we last spent Winter in Canada. As far as Snow Shovels go, I’m using the one I have been carrying around since we lived in Edmonton in the 80’s. They sure do not make them like that anymore. When I am out helping our neighbours shovel their driveway or ours, my Shovel is the only one that makes sparks as I push it along the concrete. Nobody else has a metal shovel, they are all plastic.

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Our big plans for 2020 included the intended Wedding of our Jason and Diana this past July. While Covid has put the kibosh on that, there is hope that things will settle down by this coming Summer and allow the ceremony to take place in August 2021. Stay Tuned. To commemorate the planned day of their Wedding, Jason and Diana paid a visit to the Winery where the wedding was to take place and had a nice weekend visit with us. They also spent a few days with us in August where we got in some hiking and water sports but other than that we have not been able to visit with them the rest of the year. We had intentions to visit Calgary for Thanksgiving, then in November and originally, we thought we might get there around Christmas, but we are following the local Health Authorities and are pretty well hibernating for the Winter.

We did get two short visits with our Grandsons during the summer. Payton (now 13) spent a whole week with us while Ayden was with his Father, and that was a real good time. Payton is an industrious little guy with a burning desire to know everything about anything, and the time we spent discussing weighty subjects like how Sparkplugs or Turbochargers work was rather entertaining. He was pretty impressed that Grandpa’s sedate looking Truck had a Turbo in it, especially one about the size of his head. Next year I will have to tell him that my truck is not that special as all Diesels have them these days, but that’s next year. It was also a different experience than when we have had both kids as Ayden is severely allergic to Milk and Egg products. As you might imagine, this has meant that Payton has a rather limited range of experience with places like Dairy Queen or any Restaurant that does not serve Vegan dishes. We fixed that oversight in his experience list….a few times. The kid does seem to like Ice Cream.

Later in the summer Ayden (14) came with his Mom for a couple of days while Payton was with his Father. It was a good time as well, although it was pretty short as Mom had to get back to work and Ayden had to start School.

Over the summer Sylvia and I managed to keep active finding socially distanced activities to engage in. Pickleball works out well for that as the 6-foot distancing issue is for the most part how the game is designed to be played. In the fall we resigned our positions with the local Club as we were finding the workload far too big. They managed to find a replacement Treasurer for Sylvia and my duties were scattered out among a Communication Director, a Club Secretary, a Membership Director, a Webmaster, a Social Media Director and a Maintenance crew. Wait until they find out that some of the other jobs I did before Covid hit are not in that list of duties but will be brought back when things become normal again.

Once the phone stopped ringing constantly and the ‘What are we going to do about ‘this’ emails stopped I waited a couple of weeks and volunteered to be on the board of Pickleball BC and now have a well defined and focussed list of duties with them. It’s been a lot of work learning the processes and dealing with 6500 members after handling 300 but once the learning curve is over it will be a lot less day to day involvement than the Local Club was. At least I hope so.

We have managed to get lots of walks in around our community and once the Pickleball season was over we dusted off our Exercise mats and Treadmill to give ourselves something to do a few days a week. I certainly need the exercise, as the dreaded Covid 5 or 8 pounds of weight gain seem to have appeared on our Scale. Sylvia on the other hand is at the same weight she has been since we retired…(Note to Self – stop going to Dairy Queen…shhh don’t tell Sylvia).

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These past few months have been by far the longest period that we have had to wear Jeans or Long-Sleeved shirts since we retired 10 years ago, and that is likely the biggest issue we have had to accept about Covid Life. As that is not the biggest deal in the Grand Scheme of things, I think we are doing quite well this winter.

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And as the Christmas Season approaches, we are so thankful for a God that loves us, a Saviour that gives us life, and a Spirit that gives us strength to live each day to the fullest.

We are also thankful for family and friends that we can share our lives with, and support, and encourage, and love even if it has to happen via our screens.

So this Christmas we want you to know that we share our hearts and lives with you. You are very special to us, and we want to wish you love, and joy, peace and safety this Christmas season and throughout the coming New Year. I have it on good authority that things will only get better in 2021.

Merry Christmas everyone,

Rod and Sylvia

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Time to Catch Up

Yeah, I know this is going to be a long post, but as I haven’t posted anything since we were at the end of our Quarantine period in April after our return to Canada, it is likely time I caught up.

The very last picture I posted on April 4th was of the snow pelting down on our truck in the driveway, just a few days later, we were beginning to think that maybe it wasn’t that bad being back home, as the temps increased substantially and we were enjoying pretty comfortable temperatures. the 19.8C temp outside translates to 67F which is pretty comfortable for April 10th.

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We ended up with a pretty wet spring this year, so we decided what better time to get started on some inside projects. Our next plan was to re-vamp our Laundry Room. It is a long narrow room that didn’t have a lot of counter space with the appliances placed side by side.

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I always thought that the half-wall below the upper cabinets and behind the Laundry was kinda strange. I figured it may house the plumbing stack and the ducting for the Dryer, but once I opened it up, it proved to be empty in the section where the dryer was, and so I pulled it out completely and managed to push the area for the Washer/Dryer back 3.5 inches, which gave us just enough working room to stack the units and open the doors properly. I did have to take a ledge off of the bottom of the window to get things to fit properly though.

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In just a few days, we had things back in place with help from the neighbour to get the dryer on top of the washer – Sylvia tried to help me lift it but it just wouldn’t cooperate. When Roland came over we had it in place in about 10 seconds, and Sylvia just left the room to go downstairs and lift some weights.

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It took about another month to get the new Countertop and lower cabinet ordered and in place, then do some tiling for the backsplash, but the final product is much more user friendly. We also ended up replacing the overhead Fluorescent light with a LED version. I would take a picture, but I think it might be brighter than the Sun, and it keeps washing out the pictures.

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By this time we were rolling into June, and the Pickleball club, which had been prohibited to play by the City and Health Authority was suddenly given the go-ahead to commence operations, albeit with several restrictions. No large gatherings, no playing with people outside of your bubble, no touching other players equipment (We found out that even Seniors can make silly jokes about ‘Don’t touch my Balls’), arriving just before scheduled times and departing immediately after, wear gloves, etc. This caused a mad scramble by those of us on the Executive to try and figure out how to facilitate the necessary precautions and still let folks find safe times and groups to play with.

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The silly part of all this was that the City released the courts for wide open public play for 2 weeks before imposing the precautions on the Club. We were then placed in a very difficult position trying to reign in the folks who were mostly interacting as they had in the past and disregarding any and all Pandemic Precautions regarding distancing and congregating in large groups. It took a couple of weeks of us managing to annoy most of the players before we got some acceptance of our new structure, and overall it has gone pretty well. Folks soon built their own ‘Bubbles’ of players to play with. Over the course of this season I think I have played with 20-25 different people, and that is far less than I would have interacted with in a regular season when I would likely have played with 150-200 different people over the summer.

Covid19 restrictions have certainly impacted our normal Social interactions this summer as well. Other than a handful of visits to restaurants with other members of our immediate Family, we have not been in a large social environment all year. We have had a couple of visits with individual neighbours outside in our front yard, but everyone has brought their own chairs, beverages and snacks to these events. At this point, we have no idea if we will be heading south to Arizona for the winter season, as the border is still closed to vehicle traffic. In any event we have made plans to be home until at least Christmas, and over the fall we hopefully will have a better idea of whether or not we can make it to our Winter home at all.

Once the weather improved a bit we moved our efforts outside and decided to clean up a section of the yard that just wasn’t working out. Several years ago we tore out the lawn that wasn’t growing anyway at the rear of our yard and planted several Thyme plants amongst some paving stones. The idea was to make a nice little green pathway, but as this section is under a couple of big trees it never really grew well.

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We decided to continue the gravel we used in the rest of our garden beds and in a couple of days it looked like this. Well, it might have taken a few more days for things to green up like this. I recently installed a fence at the back of the property to try and discourage the local Deer from ravaging our plants. The jury remains out on that.

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We have had our regular visitors in our yard this summer, and in some cases more than ever before. Our Hummingbird feeder was far busier than usual, but they have all disappeared in the last 2 weeks to head to greener pastures. Prior to installing the fence, the resident Antlered Forest Rats have decimated our Roses, Petunias and Cedars on a regular basis, despite all of them being sprayed with a product that smells like a Rendering Plant (if you have never worked in one, think of a Cattle Feed lot crossed with a Corpse Flower).

The don’t seem to like Columbines, thankfully.

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But they sure do like roses. These pictures were taken one day apart. The Peach colored roses were the only ones we saw on the bush this year, and they only lasted a couple of days.

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And they they were, GONE the next day.

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We have had lots of Owls in the ravine this year, and have learned that juvenile Big Horned owls screech instead of hoot. And they do it almost all night at times.

Sorry about the blurry pictures….

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Our rather large contingent of Quail have been around most of the summer, but have thinned out quite a bit lately. I think the Owls may be responsible for some of that.

For the first time ever, we had a Raccoon in the yard, 3 of them to be precise. Thankfully they haven’t stuck around.

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Bats aren’t that unusual here, but it took a few weeks to take a pic of this one hunkered down during the day. I thought it might have been a Rat spending the evenings on our deck, and placed some traps on the floor, with no success. When I saw some additional droppings on the sticky trap I had placed in the corner I figured it had to be a bat. When he showed up during the day I managed to discourage him from coming back by blasting him with a stream from the garden hose. I was surprised how much bigger he was when his wings were unfurled. I have now put a bunch of very stylish crumpled Aluminum Foil in this corner, and he hasn’t been back.

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We have not done much travelling other than visiting Sylvia’s folks every couple of weeks, but in August we managed to get some time in with our Grandkids. Payton showed up first for a week and we had a blast keeping up with him. He is certainly growing up fast.

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After a bit more than a week we drove him back to Calgary and turned around to head home the next day.

Soon after, Sylvia’s Dad and Joan showed up for a few days visit.

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Not long after that, Ayden was here for a short time, and I ended up chasing him around the treetops at a local Adventure Park. It didn’t that me long to notice that I was 20-50 years older than everyone else on the course.

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Jason and Diana were here a couple of times for visits. This was supposed to be the summer they got married in the Okanagan, but Covid19 shut down that prospect. The new date is in August 2021, and hopefully things will be back to relatively normal by then.

The brought Archie the Wonder Dog along, I think this dog must have magical powers, because Sylvia gets transformed into a Dog-lover every time he shows up. I guess Grand-dogs are special…

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Some friends of theirs arrived in Kelowna at the end of their visit, and we spent some time on the lake and on the trails with them as well.

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I also got to take an air tour of the South Okanagan with Jason. This was the first time I had been flying with him, and it was a great time.

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Sylvia was down there playing pickleball.

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Westbank.

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Penticton.

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Naramata

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Skaha Lake

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Our house is in the lower right corner above the turnaround Circle.

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And that has been the summer for us. We have been busy, but relaxed for the most part. We’ll see what the Fall and Winter holds when it comes, and I will try and keep you up to date on our meanderings, even if they are going to be pretty close to home.

The Day has Come

After 14 days of solitude,  we are officially released from Home Isolation.

It really hasn’t been too bad, but we are looking forward to getting out of the yard, even if it will only be to get our own groceries. We are still going to keep being careful and staying close to home, but we will be able to run our own errands if we need to for the next who knows how long.

Virus cases have levelled off a bit here in BC, but as this next week is 2 weeks after a rather large percentage of the Snowbirds returned home from Sunnier climates, it will be interesting to see if the measures enacted by the Provincial government are adhered to and effective long term. Most of our friends have returned to Canada by now, and many are finished with their 14 day isolation period. There is some talk about having a Happy Hour at a friend’s home where nobody leaves their vehicle. That just might work.

We have used the time to get ahead of a lot of the yard work that we usually have to do in April, and as the Pickleball club is suspended for the time being, I can see that we will continue to have lots of time to accomplish projects and maintenance that we have not even imagined yet. We have also managed to stay as active as we can with our exercise equipment, so I don’t think we are going to be the ones who can’t put their jeans on after 2 weeks of living in Pyjamas.

We did manage to learn a new skill as we baked some Naan this week. This is an Indian flat bread that we really like. For a first effort it worked out pretty well, but we need to refine it a bit to get more of the bubbles that are usually present in the store bought stuff. It certainly tasted good though.

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We also managed to get the Truck washed inside and out as well as the car which spent it’s winter in the garage. Which also happens to be where a lot of the tiles for our En-Suite renovation were apparently cut and ground to fit. It was pretty dusty, even with all the precautions our contractor tried to use.

The very next morning after we cleaned everything up it snowed heavily for a while, and I think all the neighbours were blaming us for the weather.

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Anyway, that’s life in the Williams fortress for the last week. Now we begin to see what the New Normal is out in the great beyond past the end of our driveway. We do hope that all our Friends and Family are healthy and happy at this time.

See you soon (or maybe not).

One Week Down!

So, we have been home for a week, perfecting our Self Isolation techniques, and we have learned a few things:

The plans we had to wind down a bit in Arizona and relax before we headed home also seem to work well here at home. We really don’t have a choice in the matter, but we have both rather enjoyed having nothing much to do.

This doesn’t mean that we have become idle, as there are lots of little things to accomplish on the Honey Do lists, but after a week, many of them are done already. At least the ones we don’t need to head to a store to get supplies for, that is.

We have both gotten a new appreciation for our Treadmill this week. (Ok, Sylvia’s Treadmill….I have been on it a handful of times in the last 10 years) Thirty minutes of fairly steep inclined walking every second day is not really a hike, but it is somewhat satisfying even if Sylvia makes me watch Kelly and Ryan on the TV while I am walking.

At the same time one of us is on the treadmill the other is doing a stretching and weight routine. It’s been years since I followed any regular exercise pattern so I guess it was about time. A relative of mine used to say she wouldn’t exercise, because it hurts. It’s a good hurt, I just hope it goes away….

We have not resorted to daytime and night-time Pyjama routines. Even though we don’t see anyone during the day we still put on Real Clothes. (I hear the day/night PJ thing is starting to be trendy though)

I do find myself spending a fair bit more time reading Facebook and Blog posts than I have had time for lately. It is not surprising that many others seems to be finding more time to post than normal, as there is no shortage of jokes, news and pictures for us to peruse.

Netflix is a pretty cool service. We have made it a new routine to watch a show in the mid afternoon and they have lots of variety. Now if we can only break ourselves of that once things get back to normal.

We have not gone stir-crazy, and there is no chance that we are going to start gnawing on the furniture. (at least we hope not – talk to me next weekend)

Mowing the rather Brown, dead looking grass is not as crazy at it sounds at this time. Within a day of me getting the mower out and attacking the grass which more resembled pavement than lawn, I heard 3 or 4 other neighbours firing up their mowers. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was just using it as a Vacuuming exercise to pick up the rest of the Deer Poop I missed with my rake and shovel.

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Having a house and yard is an advantage at this time, as at least we can go outside (Sylvia is walking around the property as I write this). Friends of ours are hosts at a Provincial Campground near us. While the park is not yet open to the public, there are always people wandering around the site, so they are spending their 2 week isolation period cooped up inside their 5th Wheel. That might be more of a challenge than I want to face.

We are healthy and symptom free and I don’t have any fear that this will change over the next week, but we will likely continue being pretty well isolated for a while. There is no sense pushing our luck.

And speaking of House ownership, when we were away this winter a snow-plow took out a fair bit of our front rockwork and shrubbery when they managed to forget where the curb was. I had the edge of the yard marked with 3 foot high reflective markers, but the snow pile was so high, that they were buried. I am missing a couple of the markers, as they were likely carried away when the Front end loader carted away the pile (and some of my rock work)20200326_133956I pulled away all of the remaining rocks to expose the damage to our irrigation system, and hopefully they will deliver the parts that I need this week, as I really don’t need them here making more of a mess. Plus, I seem to have some time on my hands.

In their defense, there is not much hope of seeing the rockwork, curb or shrubbery under the 4 to 5 feet of snow they had to move.

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This is not the first time we have had issues with snow removal, as a few years ago they decided to push all the gravel from our RV parking area into the ravine behind our home. They will get better at this job someday, one can only hope.

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This is the second spot where they misjudged. This is right in front of the big tree in the foreground of the Snow pic. I hear the plan is to re-weld the top of the Grate into place. That could be an interesting project. As we are in a Strata community, the street and all the accompanying utilities are the responsibility of the complex where we live, and not the City. At least I don’t have to try and figure out how to fix that.

And that’s it for this week. By this time next Sunday, we should be able to head out to pick up some groceries, and I believe the plan is to replenish us with another 2 weeks worth, so we don’t have to head out much in the coming weeks.

Who knows, what next week will bring though. We can only hope and pray that things will improve for everyone.

Not With A Bang…

…But a Whimper. That’s how our winter season in Arizona ended. With all of you aware of the various situations and restrictions we are all subject to, I am sure I don’t have to explain the why of it all, but the actual implementation of social gathering restrictions upon those of us staying in the various resorts in the Sunbelt meant that there really wasn’t much to do in Arizona. This meant that heading home as requested by the Canadian Government wasn’t that hard to accept. It was also a sad end to our year as two of our good friends have sold their trailers and will not be returning to Gold Canyon. With the hasty departure of all of us, we really didn’t get a chance to say a proper farewell.

Our departure day from Gold Canyon was Thursday and we managed to get away by 9:00 in the morning. Not bad when you consider that it was pouring rain when we were hoping to load the truck on Wednesday evening, and we ended up doing a lot more on Thursday morning than we planned. It also proved to be the coldest day of departure for us from Arizona, EVER. It was only 48F or 9C which is very cool by historical standards.

It was the first time I have had to wear Jeans and a Jacket to leave our resort. We are normally in Shorts for at least the first day of our travels, but not this time. By the time we ended our day in Ely, Nevada we had driven through a fair bit of snow and rain, and overnight the temps plunged to 19F or –7C. There was 2 inches of snow on the truck the next morning that I had to brush and chip off before we could depart north. Remote Vehicle starters are wonderful things, as I was able to start the truck from the Hotel Room and wait inside for it to warm up and melt a bit.20200322_152144-16712047796668692964.jpg

This was the very first time we had seen snow on the hills around Kingman AZ. I am sure it happens, but not when we’ve traveled through here.

Overall the temperatures this year were very cool, and that’s the third year in the last four that we have experienced similar temperatures. I remember blogging several years ago that the temps in Arizona over the winter were just about perfect in my estimation as it was usually between 75 and 85 F for at least most of the winter. This year I think I can count on both hands the number of times we reached over 75 degrees, and on one hand (Ok, two fingers) the number of days we saw 80+ on the thermometer. We can only hope that the trend reverses in coming years, or we may have to look elsewhere for warm temps and winter activities. Somewhere like Edmonton.

Our second stop was in Kennewick Washington, and while I wasn’t thrilled about stopping anywhere in Washington, the chances of dealing with Virus issues were far less in Eastern Washington than along the coastal route. Our eventual border crossing was very easy, but it always is when coming home. The only questions we were asked were when we last entered the US, and were we over on any of our allowed amounts of goods and food. We were handed a pamphlet concerning our upcoming Self Isolation period, and made it home by early afternoon on our 3rd day, which is a record for us, but we usually stop off and visit friends or sight-see on the way home and that wasn’t in the cards this trip.

Had we known, we wouldn’t be challenged on foodstuffs, we might have stocked up on all the items normally forbidden to bring across the border, like fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. We were torn about whether to pick up the basic staples we needed for our 14 day Isolation period in the States, or in Canada. Under normal rules, many of the things we consume daily are not admissible into Canada from the US, so we decided to do all of our Grocery Shopping in Canada. The day before we left, I had gone to the website of Save-On Foods to check out the delivery or pickup options available to us for our food. On that day, I would have been able to schedule a pickup or delivery for the next day. When we arrived home and I went to the website, the next available pickup date was April 1, or 9 days away. It seems that the return of the Snowbirds had put a bit of a wrench into our plans to do the right thing.

As we had a bit of a buffer regarding food for a couple of days, we started to research how we were going to get groceries, and found an Angel who managed to pick up almost $400 worth of food and supplies that we needed to get the house restocked and our pantry filled for the next 2 weeks. Sylvia drove over to pick up the horde, and I was shocked when she got home with how much stuff we seem to have needed. I don’t think we’ll be resorting to eating the cardboard boxes the cereal came in by the end of these 2 weeks.

We have spent the first 2 days of our ‘alone’ time putting everything in place and planning on what we were going to do at home. Our late winter arrival at home means that I will have lots of time to deal with cleaning up the yard that the animals seem to have had quite the party in this winter.

Today I ended up picking up about 10 gallons of Deer, Bear and maybe even Coyote poop from the lawn, which is some sort of a record. The deer even ended up leaving an antler behind, and I planted it in the bucket of poop to see if it will grow a new deer.  Seriously I think it used to belong to a young buck that was hanging around the Harem controlled by the Big Buck we saw in January. I didn’t think he would be around for long as he would soon be forced out of the family group.20200323_1419397578603759367972872.jpg

I bet that this fella is the reason the youngster lost his antler.

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There were also Coyote paw prints in the dust on our front steps, and that’s a new experience for us. They must have been checking out view in our front windows.20200321_1804432372699100693237814.jpg

In any event, we are home safe and sound, and hunkered down for the next 2 weeks along with many of our friends. Now if we don’t go crazy watching the news, we’ll be just fine.

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It sure was nice to see ‘Our’ lake again. It was also warmer at 14C when we arrived home than it was when we left Arizona. What a Strange Year.