Two More Hikes

Yesterday we took the time, while those around us celebrated the US Thanksgiving holiday,p to walk around Silly Mountain near our home. Our plan was to try some different types of shoes for Sylvia to see which provided the most comfort. The beauty of this plan is that we both have the same sized feet (yep, mine are small) so when she wanted to change it up we just had to swap footwear. At the end of the day she decide she would keep wearing her regular boots, which she didn’t even bring along to try.

Rather sad looking, but resilient, Saguaro.
Lots of new homes below the mountains.

After the successful trek yesterday we went with the club to Box Canyon, a short, pretty hike at the end of a long nasty dirt road.

Our first wildlife encounter.
The cow above was intently watching this fella who came along today.
Our second wildlife encounter. This guy was about the size of a dessert bowl.
Lots of rocks to climb over today.

And then we were done, after a great day on the trail. And Sylvia had NO foot issues today. Good news.

We are Back in AZ

Yeah, I know it has been a while. I now have to re-educate myself on how WordPress works.

There are a couple of personal reasons why we haven’t posted since Covid hit, and pretty well anything I will post here will be pictures only with no commentary. If you want to know how we are doing, please contact us directly.

After getting settled back in our AZ home we made it out on our first Hike today. The Legends of Superior Trail (or, more approximately LOST for short) is on the trailbed of an old roadway, so pretty easy to handle.

As my friend says. Life is good!

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).