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July 26, 2006

What's New

LiesurelyLlamas.jpgI'm playing catchup again. We've been crazy busy this month, but there was another reason I didn't – couldn't – post on my blog for a while. After our annual Canada Day – July 4th vacation we came home to news that has left me close to tears for two weeks.

Jonathan sold Cama Llama and her baby Flora, several weeks ago.

Because the land behind us which he grazes his animals on for free is up for sale, he'd been worrying about finding a good home for the llamas on short notice. Then a trusted couple he has often traded animals with came by, wanting his help to find a pair of llamas as pets. Their plan was to go up the mountain to see the woman who has a herd (and had just taken Buddy for the summer) and pick two llamas from there, but Cama and Flora saw the men as they stood at the fence. They wandered over and Flora gave them her snuffly kisses on the cheek and it was love. Of course they asked. They begged. I just wouldn't have expected Jonathan to say yes!

When Jonathan's granddaughter Ashley told me they were gone I could have cried. I didn't get to say goodbye. We cuddled up to Dairy and Rusty, the new pair of orphaned kids, but I'm not that big a fan of goats. I was never even a horse person. For me, if it had hooves it had to be giraffes, and then there were camels, and now it's llamas. The only reason I can even talk about this now is that Jonathan has brought Buddy home (he was guarding the mountain herd too well so even the owners couldn't get close) along with a new chocolate-coloured female and baby much like Smoky and J.B. from last year.

So we have llamavision again. They're not friendly, though, not like Cama and Flora. Jonathan is beginning to think he might try to trade this pair to get Cama and Flora back again. I hope that happens, but I guess it will come down to how quickly the land behind us gets sold. If Jonathan has to keep his goats in his penned acre, there isn't room for hungry beasts the size of llamas, and less need for defense. Last Tuesday a coyote chased the goats from one end of the woods to the other. I saw the flash of brown as it went by with one of the gals running full tilt for Jonathan's gate ahead of it, and the others fleeing haphazardly in all directions (they usually run as a herd so it was bizarre to see how quickly a single coyote could separate them all even in that small space). Two days later Jonathan called to say Buddy was back, surprise surprise, bugling away at the slightest threat. Including me. It's just not the same. So I've been avoiding writing about it.

Now that that's over with, I've lots of other tidbits to update you on. We've certainly been making good use of our time lately! Here's what we've been up to this month.

July4-Sunset4.jpgWe had a great long weekend away at the beginning of the month, starting with dinner at Chad and Maria's place on our way south. We played a fantastic board game I'd love to get, I think it's called Carcasonne. (Chad, if you're reading, please confirm, I've forgotten!)

The July 1st to 4th celebration with Tim, Debbie, and the gang was the usual overindulgence in food and fireworks, with just enough nap time to make up for sleepless nights squished in that rotting matchbox we call a camper. Next year the plan is to balance out those fabulous meals with a little hard labour to turn their camping plot into the beachfront paradise it could be. Richard has already acquired a couple of stainless steel sinks for the dishpit makeover. This sunset followed a brief thundershower and lightning storm that took out power while the seafood boil was cooking on the 4th. It cleared up just in time for a great show of oohs and aahs and deafening bangs on the beach, and we were back on the road the next morning.

On our way home we stopped in to meet the newest member of our growing circle of friends, Joshua, born on June 23rd. Congratulations to Pam and Rick and siblings Tristan and Danaeya. Josh is the 18th child under the age of 7 among our friends and family, isn't that amazing?

July9-Barn15.jpgWe also have a new neighbour, by the way. Jonathan finally sold the property next door to us for nearly his asking price, amazingly, and new owner Paul should be moving in next weekend. He and his brother are pilots and like tinkering with planes, so I foresee more variety in Richard's shop talk in the future.

And speaking of shop talk, we spent a busy weekend with visitors Chris, Ben and Adrienne on the 8th and 9th. Saturday they got the tour of what we've accomplished since their visit last fall. It's always great for us to see our progress from the eyes of our guests for whom the change is more dramatic. And it seems the most dramatic changes happen when we have visitors!

Sunday was an intense day of demolition. The boys took chainsaws and crowbars to the interior of the barn. In five hours they had more than half of it gutted, clearing out old plywood concrete forms, layers of sawdust, bird feathers, styrofoam, wasp nests and mice. I can hardly believe what a cavernous space it is with the second floor removed and the partitions for horse stalls and chicken coops gone.

Adrienne and I had the less musty but equally thirsty chore of digging up all the rocks – many of them football size – which frost and rodents had forced up out of the lawn to lie in wait like icebergs for the unsuspecting lawn mower. I would have preferred the more dramatic achievements of barn demo, but with all the bird and rodent droppings it was pretty nasty in there and the guys made incredible progress on their own. We helped sweep up some of the remaining debris at the end of the day while Ben and Richard took a huge load of trash to the dump. Richard will reuse the even bigger pile of wood left over behind the barn when he reinsulates the inside. Still more demo to do in there one of these days.

Thanks so much Ben and Adrienne and Chris for your help! Now you can see its potential as a shop.

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FireMog-July11.jpgThen the following week Richard had a meeting with a fire hall in Quesnel. He and Greg were heading north in the fire-fighting Unimog when they came across an accident on the highway near McLure. You might have seen the CTV news report: an elderly woman died when the minivan she was in crossed the centre line and collided with an on-coming semi carrying a load of vegetable oil. If you've ever lit your stove on fire with vegetable oil you know it's tough to put out. Only one fire engine (the first of 5) had arrived at the accident when Richard and Greg drove up, and the two women firefighters had just begun administering to the accident victims. Greg assisted with first aid and then he and Richard offered to pour their full tank of water and foam on the blazing semi. When the rest of McLure's volunteer firefighters arrived, Richard and Greg kept on pumping water alongside them, and were directed to the firehall to refill several times. CTV News even interviewed Richard a few hours later when the media got wind of the accident. By that time the semi was a smoking wreck and news footage showed the Mog at the edge of the road with the smoke billowing up from below. After five hours in McLure they were late for their Quesnel appointment, but they had a good story to tell and real-life practice with the Mog's fire-fighting equipment.

The past two weeks have been fairly busy for me, keeping up with watering and pruning in the garden, and learning the ropes in my new job. I still have office supplies all over the floor, but we just installed "faux wood" blinds in all the 5 x 10 foot windows so at least I'll be able to read my computer screen in the afternoons now, and it should keep it cooler in here, too. I'm part time now for the rest of the summer, so am working during the hot part of the day and spending cooler morning hours outside. In the heat wave it's been challenging just to keep the garden from drying up, but now my carefully watered gladiolas are rewarding me with gorgeous flowers. There's been an abundance of everything - raspberries, lillies, grasshoppers, frogs - despite being hotter and drier than last year. I guess our hard work in the yard is paying off. The apple crop will be incredible this fall thanks to Richard's pruning.

July20-Glads.jpgI don't talk about dance on the blog much, if ever, but I went to a tribal fusion belly dance workshop with Sharon Moore of InFusion Tribal last weekend and had such a fantastic and inspiring time that I have to mention it. It reached a scorching 40 degrees both days, and thirty of us filled the tiny un-air-conditioned room we practiced in, but I was having so much fun – especially with the bhangra (East Indian dance) lesson – that I hardly noticed that you could have wrung out my shirt and filled my water bottle. Sharon and Jen kept our energy up and our feet grounded. I faded fast in the heat on Sunday afternoon during the flamenco session though, so was disappointed in myself for not grasping the moves better, but overall I was more motivated in my dance practice than ever. Plus, this was the first time in a year and a half of living here that I really connected with a group of women in community and friendship instead of just as familiar faces in my weekly class where we don't get much opportunity to talk. I look forward to getting to know my classmates a bit better now. And I'm ordering a bhangra DVD!

On Sunday night, the 23rd, a huge lightning storm blasted through, with one fork coming down right in our neighbourhood. We watched the forks light up the hills for a while, and then the power went out just around bedtime. Our air-conditioning evaporated and we tossed and turned until after 3am when the power came on again. I'm enjoying my mornings outside in the dry warmth (even getting a good tan for once), but coming into a cool house is so wonderful when it's this hot. It's supposed to peak today and cool down to 30 for the weekend. We have another visitor for Friday and Saturday, our friend Peter from Germany. He helped with the first round of barn demolition at Easter, so Richard is looking forward to showing off the latest developments, but no new projects. We'll sit back and enjoy the house and garden this weekend.

Posted by anita at 12:58 PM