Monday, May 31, 2010

I WENT TO A GARDEN PARTY – sing along with Ricky Nelson if you remember

Some garden views at Charlie and Sheila's

We had a great visit with our friends in Cumberland. We did a shared lunch raiding both their fridge and ours. I’d popped over to the bakery for a little chocolate covered sweet for the other three; I don’t eat chocolate anymore since I discovered it is a trigger for migraines.

By the time we dumped the trailer tanks, it was nearly supper time so we quickly got set up at brother Charlie’s. I had intended using the weed eater to cut the grass in our spot but it was too late and still wet.

Wednesday was a rainy day so I spent much of the morning reworking my house plans. I have been doodling quite a bit coming up with a whole series of house plans for our next nest if our house sells. I did do a little cleaning along the big house under cover and watched Chas and the boys working. After lunch, being art day, I went to Stanford Place. Dad was finishing up his lunch and seemed fine. One of the guys told me Mom wasn’t having a good day. They had given her something to help in the bathroom and it took a lot out of her so they’d put her to bed about ½ hour earlier. She hadn’t had lunch but did have a late breakfast. They would save her some lunch. I peeked in on her and she was sound asleep and very pale. Instead, I went and visited my sister Wendy and Randy. They had just gotten the motor home set up as they’d been to Port Alberni for five days.

We had a busy Thursday. I spent most of my day on the pressure washer doing patios and walkways while Aileen worked on many different things. She took Mitzy for her 8:30 groom then picked her up at noon. Supper was a joint effort Aileen said, raiding both fridges which are getting low on food.

We hit the road about 9:30 Friday morning with Aileen driving. We stopped at Super Store in Nanaimo for gas. I had just finished pumping gas when RBC security called to say they suspected my credit card had been compromised recently and they were canceling my card immediately and would issue me a new number. Great, we’re heading for Port McNeill, with no RBC branches there so we had it mailed to Aileen’s sister Anne. Looks like Aileen gets to pay for everything now.

We got to our son Richard’s at exactly 2:30 (which was the time assigned) and gathered his luggage then drove to Georgia’s school to pick her up. We bought veggies at the Old Farm Market at Duncan then stopped in Ladysmith for Chinese buffet. We stopped again at Super Store for gas then Richard and I went in for groceries.

I spent much of Saturday morning on the weed whacker then the pressure washer again. All the cement looks great now that it is clean. Charlie and Sheila took us all to Roong’s Westhill Restaurant for a great supper that evening. Georgia roared around all morning playing with Belle the golden lab and Dexter the cat. She was pretty tired this evening. She sure beamed when the waitress brought her some ice cream, though. She had eaten a pretty large supper even trying some new things. Aileen was surprised at one point when she had just put something onto her own plate and a little hand snaked out and grabbed one of the pieces.

Food preparation occupied much of Sunday morning for Aileen and Richard alternating with reading to Georgia. Chas and I did outside stuff setting up tables, tents and chairs, some of which we went to the rodeo grounds for. Interestingly, the big tent with 20 chairs was not used at all. We never had that many people at once. While there was a pretty good turnout, about 70 people, they tended to come for awhile then depart.

I manned the BBQ all day but there were long spells where I turned it off. The cylinder ran out of propane just after the first batch. I took one of our bigger bottles off the trailer to use the rest of the day. My brother Tom was the only sibling who didn’t make an appearance. The other seven of us did. Surprisingly, Richard was the only one of my parent’s grandchildren, as was Georgia the only great grandchild who did show up. We had expected several of them. The garden party was a definite success and lots of good visiting happened. Charlie and Sheila led many tours of the old cow barn they have converted into a nice cozy little house. They are considering moving into it themselves and converting their 4200 square foot house into Grafton House, as a vacation rental. Their youngest son and his partner had just finished the floors and counter tops with their product called Granicrete. The counters look like high end granite and the floors look like nice tile. Most of the lumber and beams were cut on the property so the little house has some uniqueness. Charlie has made most of the doors and cupboard doors out of rough cut Cedar.

I took the truck in for a service this morning before we head off to the top end of the Island. Aileen has done laundry several times this week in addition to preparing many meals. Perhaps we need another vacation.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The pier in Campbell River - a great place to watch cruise ships go by in season

Part of the fishing fleet

Fish and chips wrapped in newspaper- yummmm!

Last night's party at Bill's - Left to right - Maynard and Barbara, Doug McD, Bill's daughter in law Rita and grand daughter Rebecca, me, nephew Paul's wife Judy, Bill, Bill's son Tony, Gay McD, Aileen and Bill's nephew Paul

The youngest member of my parents' grand children, Oliver, aged about five months

On Friday morning, we woke up to rain pounding on the roof. The weather had improved later in the morning when we went off to Courtenay for a drive. Lunch was at a Chinese Smorg (buffet) restaurant which was very good. We explored several side roads along the way and found one nice little campsite right along the ocean that is only $13 per night (no hook ups of course). It was full already and they were jammed in pretty good. This was the start of our Victoria Day long weekend, named after the late Queen Victoria who ruled in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It is the start of the summer camping season and often the rowdiest. I see on the internet that the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks instituted an alcohol ban to curb the rowdies there and I just read that it was very successful in keeping the disturbances down.

On Saturday, Bill took us for a tour around the residential sections of Campbell River. We had lunch out on the pier with take out fish and chips which were very tasty. We’ve gone for several walks around the neighbourhood here also. I spent much of my afternoon saving files over to my external hard drive as the laptop was getting too full again.

On Sunday morning we went to the Farmer’s Market near the pier in Campbell River. There was a good bluegrass band on stage and lots of people wandering around. Aileen finally found a nice bib. She’s been looking for a second one ever since I found her the first one in Quartzsite a couple years ago. They are a real shirt saver. We had hoped to have the barbeque party outside but the weather didn’t cooperate. While the sun did shine part of the time, the wind was too cool. There were twelve of us and it was a great time. We all had fun chatting and catching up on things. Bill had his son, daughter in law and one of his grand daughters (who flew in from Moosejaw, Saskatchewan), a nephew and his wife from Sooke and two of his model railway buddies and their wives. Aileen and I had met them all at Bill and Gloria’s 50th wedding anniversary a couple years ago so we were very comfortable with them.

Today Bill’s nephew dropped in before heading home. Aileen and I popped down the road ten minutes to visit my nephew Keith and family. We’ve enjoyed our time visiting Bill but tomorrow we will head back down Island to Charlie and Sheila’s. We are visiting long time friends, Lynda and Perry, in Cumberland on the way. On Friday we plan to drive to Victoria to pick up Richard and Georgia for the weekend. Sunday is the big garden party at Chas and Sheila’s then the following week will likely see us head to northern Vancouver Island and the next phase of our travels.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Bill's azalea's in Willow Point

Bill also has some beautiful Rhodos

Some of the fishing boats in Campbell River

Charlie and Sheila's yard after the mulch was applied

We did some gardening (Aileen) and pruning (me) Monday morning. Chas had 12 yards of bark mulch delivered that afternoon so we worked on that for awhile. We had some thunder and a few light showers later in the afternoon. The mulching continued through Tuesday and a little more on Wednesday.

After lunch Wednesday, I went to town to take Mom to art. It was not a good day. She had thrown a tantrum at lunch apparently as she didn’t like the noodle salad. When she thought nobody was watching, she scooped it all onto Dad’s plate. When I checked on him, he was just finishing his plate. I asked him later how lunch was and he told me it was good but there was so much! I guess he didn’t notice Mom sharing hers. Mom was in foul humour all round. She didn’t want to go to art so I took her for a drive first then we sat on Aileen’s Mom’s memorial bench for awhile overlooking the ocean and watching the eagles soar. We did eventually get to art but left her bag in the truck. She was okay for awhile then disappeared out in the back yard where she was discovered later wandering in the rain. She did have some tea but turned down strawberries and ice cream rather rudely. This from a person who loved ice cream! I took her home early as she was so unhappy. I heard several times how she hated Stanford Place care home. She was quite confused for much of the time also. It’s so sad, because she was such a vibrant personality who always went out of her way to help others.

We’ve been working fairly hard for the past few weeks so have decided it was time for a vacation. We stopped at the Buckley Bay rest stop for lunch and after a few minutes, in drove my nephew Keith and Heather along with little Oliver so we had a short visit. Keith was on his way to a job interview at a law firm in Nanaimo and he was to be called to the bar this afternoon too, I think. After Aileen’s two hour nap, we pulled out three hours after arriving. We drove through several showers along the way but were lucky to have decent weather for parking and setup at cousin in law Bill’s at Willow Point south of Campbell River. We are parked in Bill’s driveway with power and water hooked up; pretty nice, and we’re only a couple blocks from the ocean.

I took Mitzy for a walk while Aileen started preparing supper but I was back in time to do the barbeque. After supper, we went to the pier in Campbell River but found no dogs were allowed so we wandered the wharves instead.

Bill had invited us for the weekend as he is having a barbeque for some family and friends on Sunday. We plan to go back to Errington on Tuesday to help Charlie and Sheila prepare for their big garden party on May 30th. We are driving to Victoria on the 28th to pick up our son and grand daughter for that weekend. They will take the train home on Sunday evening. Our loose plans currently are for us to spend the month of June on northern Vancouver Island and perhaps again in mid July for a week or so.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Rowbotham Lake with Mts Arrowsmith (center) and the smaller Cokely on the right

The only angle that doesn't include logging slash in the picture

I was on the crew that planted much of the lower right valley in the mid 60s , early 70s

The badly eroded old road to Rowbotham

Creek crossing

Douglas Fir new growth

Timothy - grass grown for hay and pasture - used macro lens but from further back

A closer (macro) shot of Timothy

Macro of Orchard Grass

A couple more angles of the old Mercury M5

On Saturday night I went to Coombs Country Opera which is hosted by the old time fiddlers group with an open mike for musicians and singers. I have been doing some further processing using PhotoMatix along with some more standard editing all of which are included in this post. One of my favourite lenses is my 100 mm macro which allows me to get 1:1 life size. This means the image is the same size on the film (digital sensor) as it actually is. I have included several macro shots today.

I called John R, my brother in law, just before 9 this morning and we decided to try going to Rowbotham Lake. It took me an hour to get things together and the ATV loaded. We did a little side exploring then ended up driving right to the lake and it fact, most of the way around it. I hadn’t been there since 1964, with Dave McM, I think, and it was a long walk at that time. There has been so much logging activity there are roads all over up there. We drove through a couple small patches of snow as we were about 4,000 feet up. I hope to get back up there on a clear day as the scenery would be great. You look out over the coastal plain and the ocean (Georgia Straight) to the Coast Range on the BC mainland. It was very hazy today.

We drove just a little further and were then looking down in to the top end of Northwest Bay logging area and Arrowsmith Lake with Mt Arrowsmith rearing up behind it. It was neat to look down on the new forest I helped plant back in the mid 60s and early 70s. John R recognized the old road so we took it back down to the truck and it was a real ATV track. Very badly washed for much if it and lots of alders and willows growing in. Unless someone gets trimming it won’t be useable much longer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I added the poster edges filter in PhotoShop Elements to give more texture to this image

An early 50s Mercury M5 which is a 2 or 3 ton - identical to a Ford

I took Mom to art Wednesday and it was amazing to see how they were both doing. Dad was very alert, his eyes were clearer and he was able to do some verbalizing (semi coherently). When Mom and I returned later, he was at supper doing an excellent job of feeding himself.

Mom was really cheerful. More so than I've seen for several years. She also seemed more alert and with it. She was sitting on the bed playing with some brooches so I helped her pin some on. She was so pleased with them and told me how she'd never had anything so beautiful in her life. They were her topic of conversation with everyone we met. She did have quite a tremor with both hands when I first went in but it seemed fine when we returned at suppertime.

I talked with the nurse later and inquired about both Mom and Dad. She confirmed what I had suspected and Dad didn't have a stroke, but a seizure. He is now getting antibiotics for his bladder infection which was likely the cause of the seizure. When I asked if they had changed Mom's medication, she told me no, but they were now hiding it in her food so she is getting it consistently. Well gee, that was the reason we put them in care so long ago; why did it take so long to finally get to doing that? Oh well, it was great to see them looking so good today. I just hope it will last awhile.

Aileen and I worked on cleaning up some old fencing yesterday then helped build some new fence later. I did get some reading in the sun time while Aileen was napping then Chas came along wondering if I wanted to help.

Mitzy decided to take a break from being a “lady” dog and rolled in a nice juicy fresh cow pie yesterday. Aileen was not impressed. I went to a bluegrass concert last night and there was some great music played and sung. I sat with my sister Wendy (and Randy). She only has 7 more days until she retires and is looking forward to it. I plan to go to another bluegrass event tonight. It will be the last of the season.

The four images included with this post were all taken at Joan’s where art was on Wednesday. I have combined 3 – 5 images in each using PhotoMatix Light. I used a tripod so all the images are in register and varied the exposures. Each image had exposures of as the meter suggested, one stop over and one stop under. Some of them had two and three stops under as well, to cover the highlights. I had thought it would be most effective in bright sun but the one picture of the old truck was in full shade and I think it benefited the most. I’m sure I will learn how to adjust the levels more effectively as I learn the program but was pleased with my initial results.

I went to a workshop presentation on “happiness” on Thursday night with Aileen, Sheila and Sheila’s mother Ethel. It was rather interesting. Today Aileen and Sheila are at another workshop. This one runs 10-4.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


We’ve had a busy week since the last post. My Dad celebrated their anniversary by having a couple of seizures. They think he had two strokes, a minor in the morning and a more serious one in the afternoon. His vitals including blood pressure, O2 level and heart were fine. His surface temperature was high though. It has been years since he’s had warm feet but that evening his feet were very warm. His external temperature was back down a couple days later. Regardless of what happened, he has lost ground and it will be difficult to regain. One thing that did come out of it was that I got to see Becky, my youngest sister and the only one of my seven siblings I hadn’t seen yet.

Aileen and I spent much of the week helping get the yard sale ready. I did five signs for the major road intersections and Sheila put an ad in the local paper. We had a huge number of people through on Saturday and got rid of lots of “stuff”. We decided to leave the signs up and try again Sunday and we got rid of lots more. Sheila kept bringing more out of the house and if people were looking for something specific, she would see what she could find. It was a lot of work but I think it was pretty successful.

I bought Photomatix Light online one day last week and have played with a few images so far. The program groups a series of images that you take with various exposures and creates a blended version. The idea being that for highly contrasted scenes which are impossible to correctly expose for, you shoot at a middle exposure, an exposure for the highlights and one for the shadows then the program blends them. From there you can make further adjustments. It should prove interesting. I have seen some great results when other people have used it.

I took Mom to her art group last Wednesday and stayed and visited with Larry, the man of the house. I peeked in on the ladies part way through and was pleased to see Mom was actually doing some art. She was sketching a horse from a post card or something and it was looking pretty good. I was under the impression she didn’t open her art supplies anymore, only visited with her old friends, so this was good to see. Perhaps the new medication is responsible. It was sad to think of her losing her artistic abilities after it being her hobby for so long. She has hundreds of pictures hanging on people’s walls. All of her offspring have several each as do most of the grandchildren and she sold at the local market and other venues for many years.

Chas and Sheila treated us to Vietnamese food for supper one night and it was very good. We went to the Mekong River Restaurant at the east end of Parksville who have only been open a few weeks. They owned a restaurant in Nanaimo for 16 years and were bought out by someone who made an offer they couldn’t refuse. Chas remembered the guy as they had eaten there several times as it was next door to where Sheila worked.

I took the trailer to the dump station on Friday as I didn’t want to risk having the tanks fill up over the weekend while the access was blocked in front of our trailer by the yard sale items. Aileen stayed with Sheila and they slaved away on the pricing which has to be the hardest part of a yard sale. Aileen had given Mitzy a bath earlier so I took her (Mitzy) for a long walk down at the park where I dumped. I was surprised at the number of tent campers in the park. They must have good sleeping bags as we’ve had lots of frosty mornings. Sheila and I went to the local Home Show Friday evening as Chas and Aileen were too tired.

On Mother’s Day, we had a barbeque here at Chas and Sheila’s with all Sheila’s family. Most of the group ate in front of the TV cheering on their Vancouver Canucks. I guess it was worth it as the Canucks won.

I kept busy yesterday. First off, I sorted all the left over yard sale boxes that were outside. About half went to the steel pile down behind the barn, some to the burn pile, some to garbage and there were only two boxes I thought to be good enough for a thrift store. After that, I started dismantling Dad’s old fence which was well inside the new property line and fence. It had become an eyesore and was quite a challenge to get down. I worked by myself all morning and had most of the staples out. I had to prune some roses near the road to get at the last two posts. Aileen helped me after lunch. She hooked the chain around the posts which I then lifted out with the loader. I kidded her about thinking her choker setting days were over. We rolled up the wire after and put it with the steel pile.

Today Aileen gave me a haircut after going to light up the burn pile. Then we took three loads of the yard sale leavings to Parrot World who have just opened a thrift type store as a fund raiser for the facility which takes in abandoned parrots. A young guy from close by came and took three pickup loads of old doors and windows that were left over from the yard sale. The yard and garage are completely empty of everything we had in the yard sale.

The weather has been really nice mostly for several days getting up into the high teens C (high 60’s F). As I’m sitting here, a mature bald eagle is attacking some ducks in the field not far away. We’d rather he was taking some of the geese instead. We have a resident Great Blue Heron visiting several times a day also

Monday, May 3, 2010


Aileen, Georgia and Mitzy on Parksville Beach

Englishman River Falls

The bark of the Western Yew Tree

Wild Easter Lily (Dogtooth Lily)

This is a totally new species to me! Someone put a pink Salmon Berry flower onto an Easter Lily then stuck it onto a Vanilla Leaf plant. I thought it looked rather nice in the rain even if it was a fake.

A Trillium that is getting past it

This Trillium is further past it

Richard and Georgia

I went into filters in Elements and used spotlight

We puttered around here most of the day on Friday but I did go off with Chas to Nanaimo to get some bags of mortar. We picked up 16 bags and they were $10 per bag cheaper there than locally. Makes it rather hard to shop locally, doesn’t it? Aileen and Mitzy went for a walk down at Englishman River Falls Park while we were away. We went out to Westhill Restaurant for a great supper with Charlie (my brother) and Sheila and Janet (my sister) and John. Thanks for treating us John! We poor old retired people appreciate such gestures of kindness.

On Saturday morning, I cut a couple of lawns here while Aileen went to town for some groceries. Later in the morning, Richard and Georgia arrived from Victoria to spend the weekend with us. They had the big house to themselves as Chas and Sheila were off canoeing on the Cowichan River, camping overnight. We had a bonfire in the fire pit and roasted wieners (and marshmallows) for lunch. After lunch, we went and visited my Mom and Dad. At one point Dad was refusing to take his Parkinson’s medication and finally Georgia piped up “Great Grand Dad, take your medication!” and he did. Mom was having a bad day and had escaped several times, once getting down the street a ways. I took the nurse to task over it as the gate at the front which is to prevent such occurrences was not working, so Mom was able to just walk out. I said it wasn’t Mom’s fault she was getting out, but yours. After going down to the Parksville beach for awhile, we barbequed hamburgers for supper back here. Aileen stayed with Georgia while Richard and I went to the Errington coffee house later in the evening. There were some very good performers and some who were not quite so good.

On Sunday morning we visited Janet and John for awhile then came back here for lunch. While Aileen had a much needed nap, Richard, Georgia and I went to Englishman
River Falls Park
for a walk. It showered off and on but we didn’t get wet. After some refreshments and more visiting, we headed down Island in both vehicles. Richard treated us to supper in Ladysmith (wow, free supper twice in one weekend!), thanks Richard. From there Richard and Georgia headed back to Victoria and we returned to Errington.

Today is my Mom and Dad’s 64th wedding anniversary!