Sunday, April 22, 2007

He found his inner seven-year-old

He's 74 years young and this was his first time on a go-cart. Greig, Bui, Dosha, Dad and I all went for a much needed toot around the track.

I guess we never went when my brother and I were kids. Not that I can ever recall. Mum probably thought it was too dangerous and we'd end up dead or something overly protective and paranoid.

At first he wasn't going to go, "Thought it would be silly" for an "old-fart" like him.

Look at him! He's having such a great time!

So you're never too young to find your inner child.

The neighbours

In keeping with my friend Jamie, and in her catagory of "Things that float by," here are two fishing lodges that left yesterday afternoon to head up the coast to the Queen Charlotte Islands.

It is quite a way to tow these from here in Vancouver to all the way up the coast to the QC Islands.
These belong to Langara Fishing Adventures and will stay up there until the fall and they'll come back and live just up the river from us.

There are quite a few fishing lodges that winter over here in Vancouver and are towed back up the coast. I saw some big ones moored on the river over by the Alex Fraser Bridge and I think it is the
King Pacific Lodge as it is pretty big.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A typical day of flurry and activity

While Mum was making her delicious Mulligitawny soup for us...

Dad fixed a bunch of axes with new handles and sharpened a few more. Here he is trying to look fearsome, but just can't do it...such a pussycat.

And his surefire method of drying out wet wood.

And whilst Dad was doing that, the tide went out for Dave to further investigate his barge. There is a dent. "Oh, it is a heat and beat."

Here he is standing next to it and pointing to some holes.

And a close up.

Hitting it with the fire hose. There's another spot that is dinged in.

The other day...

My Mum and Dad are back in town for their annual visit to see us.We were about to go out to the store to get a few last minute things for dinner, but we just had to move a barge. Ever have that problem too?

On Easter Sunday when the barge arrived, they had stuck it at the west end of the complex. Dave and Greig pumped out quite a bit of muck using the fire pump to loosen up the slit inside and the trash pump to get it out again. That fire pump works just as good if not better than a pressure washer apparently. So, when the planet and tide aligned themselves for this, off they went.

In the skiff with Greig is Roger and on the barge with Dave is Troy.

Here they are starting to make the turn around the bow of the Bowie. They had a bit of a devil of a time trying to bring it across the current as it was ripping in a bit from the other part of the channel. Ooh lookit that dramatic sky!

Oooh, are they gonna make the turn?

Its gonna be close...

Don't hit the Partnership...careful!

Steve was on the breezeway of the Partnership and all was fine.

Here's Dave doing a little dance and cheer. The #17 Meat Locker can sit here on the beach and when the tide goes out he can attend to its issues: nominal and easy to fix with his skills.

OK, Mum, now we can go to the store.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Great Canadian Shore Cleanup

Jack has signed up our area here in the Great Canadian Shore Cleanup. (Scroll down to Richmond and click on Mitchell Island Beaver pond.) The satellite image isn't up to date but the big thing IS the Bowie.

Officially it is taking place in September but since the marina move we've a bit more accessiblity to the shore line and we've been wanting to clean up along it for some time now. There is lots of overspill of gravel from Allied Cement as well as since Mitchell Island is all industrial, there is lots of metal and junk that can be cleaned up.

Greig, Dave, Mark Q, Scott and Brock were over there yesterday, teaming up the shore a bit. They are salvaging some steel ties and other stuff. Dave said there was a huge chunk of 1/4" checkerplate steel that he will repurpose for the Meat Locker. Some of the steel ties he can also use for a hoist to clean out the muck of the barge.

They've cut the tops off the old wooden pilings that are there and will be looking for some tin to cover the tops of the pilings as these aren't covered. Greig wants to run some docks along and connect to these pilings too.

At any rate, all work is dictated by the tides.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bridgette the duck and other wild beasties

This is Bridgette. She's adopted us. I think she allowed me to take this particular shot as this was her "best" side. Isn't she pretty?

Living here on the riparian zone of the river we see loads of wildlife: ducks, geese, seagulls, finches, eagles, blue herons, otters, beavers, racoons, barn swallows and even seals from time to time. Most of the time they choose to ignore us but this girl seems to like us. Especially Scott.

Well, he likes her too and will sit on the dock and talk to her and Max, her partner, and toss wild birdseed mix at them. She comes close to me too but Scotty is her man!

The other day, Scott was paddling about in the skiff (he couldn't get the engine restarted) and was coming around the bow of the Bowie and was off the Partnership's port bow and where was Bridgette? Paddling right along side of him. Also that day Scott said he was over on the Sea Ferring with the Brothers' Mclean and she flew up onto the deck too. Crazy chick. (Maybe she's a stalker...we're quite familiar with those.)

Tonight I tried to take a picture of the beaver but my camera's flash just doesn't have the jam. We think they have a hole/home somewhere along or underneath the docks. They are always out here at night and I often hear them gnawing away on something.

We're also eagerly awaiting the return of the barn swallows. I thought I heard them the other morning but I haven't been dive bombed yet. Whee!

Dave and the #17 Meat Locker

Dave, our resident Mad Canadian Artist, welder and self-styled bon vivant, found himself another project. So, like us, he just seems to not have enough to do.

Just down the river a bit past the Knight Street Bridge there's been a semi-submerged steel barge, sitting on shore behind a log boom. It has been there for a few years. Steve Garrity, a local tug operator, turned Dave on to it. Garrity said he'd was going to salvage it but just hadn't gotten around to it, so he had suggested it to Dave.

As is the usual modis-operandi, off in the skiff Greig, Dave and I went, at midnight, to check the thing out. ( night!) Yup, it is semi-submerged steel barge, full of water, silt and other crap and it looked like it was in exceptional shape, though listing to one side. At 40' x 30' and square and 10' deep port and starboard sides are anyone's guess. I was amazed that someone wasn't at all interested in it. (Sheesh, if Greig and I had found THIS instead of the Bowie all those years ago...) It must have been sitting here for a few years to be sure. Very cool though.

Easter Sunday was Barge Salvage day. Greig deposited Dave on the barge at 11:30am, with a few other roommates left there to assist and explore. Greig shuttled back and forth equipment, fuel, lights, pumps and they spent the day pumping out the tanks. Most of the water inside was just accumulated rain water and there appears to be only one spot where there is a hole that is bringing in water. All an easy fix for for Dave. It will be cleaning it out that will be the yucky chore.

They figured the skiff was grunty enough to bring back up the short distance up the river when the tide shifted. On the last trip back down, Greig took "our" Steve, (not to be confused with the aforementioned Steve Garrity) for the last shift. It was all very exciting and happened very quickly as Greig started pulling and then the barge began to move. Greig was in the skiff alone and there was too much weight with the barge and so Steve quickly scrambled down into the skiff to add some more weight to the skiff as it otherwise would have dumped with Greig in it.

In what amounted to a "semi-controlled drift", they pulled it into the complex at about 10pm, just as the outboard died. The outboard motor it seemed, had decided it had enough for the day too.

We're all very happy for Dave. It is nice to be able to help someone get into a boat who really wants it and has the chops for it. He is planning on stacking some shipping containers on it. I think that is a fabulous idea. Victoria, BC Archictect Keith Dewey's Zigloo and Container City are great spots of inspiration for this kind of thing.

Saturday Night Injury report:
Me: bruised left arm, left butt cheek, bruised right sitting bone, scraped left knee and bruise left shin. Thank fully, nothing broken. I fell getting out off the skiff. Oops. Dummy.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The scent of spring

You could taste it in the air this morning. That distinct smell of spring, that change in the air. It is the cottonwoods budding, which they seemed to do overnight. It is a big memory trigger for me. I am always a bit surprised by it living here on the coast. Back home in the interior, I associate that smell with the Victoria Day Weekend and the May Day Celebrations in Kaslo, BC. Only it seems so early since it is only the beginning of April. Well, we're usually about a month or so ahead of the interior anyway.

Isn't it always funny how smells trigger memories? That smell reminds me of:
  • May pole dancing (The longest running Maypole dance in Canada)
  • the parade that goes around twice
  • logger sports
  • three-legged and egg and spoon races
  • merry-go-rounds
  • cotton candy
  • the oily brown canvas of the vendor/event tents
  • bonfires on the beach
  • pancake breakfasts at the Legion
  • tea and bake Sales at the United Church or the Scout hall; entering a raffle for a doily or an afgan or cinnamon buns
  • playing clarinet in the school band with Mr. Fisher
  • running in the May Queen pagent
  • the Hawthorne tree in bloom
  • Dad tilling the garden on his tractor
  • the smell of the cedar trees
  • picking the sticky little cottonwood husks off my shoes
I also think of Lilacs and specifically, our next door neighbours the Nelson's overgrown Lilac tree in their front yard. Oh how I used to wish I could to go hide inside it and disappear for a while! I can hear Lardeau Jack McDonald Creek which flows through my parents property, running full force over the grizzly Dad built, swollen with water from the spring run off. I can picture Dad, handing over the first stems of rhubarb to Mum, begging for her to "Please make me a Rhubarb Meringue Pie. I would just love a piece of Rhubarb Meringue Pie." I know, I know no one has ever heard of a Rhubarb MERINGUE pie so here it is:

Rhubarb Meringue Pie:
Bake this in a 375° oven

1 - 9" unbaked pastry shell

3 cups diced, fresh rhubarb
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup, scant flour
1 TBS melted margarine

Beat egg yolks until frothy, add sugar, flour and melted butter. Combine this with the diced rhubarb. Pile mixture onto unbaked pie shell and bake at 375° for 30 minutes.

Whilst this is baking, make meringue of 3 egg whites slowly adding sugar and cream of tartar. Remove pie from oven onto cooling rack and carefully and quickly spread meringue over top of pie.

3 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 TBS sugar

Return pie to oven and bake until meringue is slightly browned and cooked, approximately 10 minutes.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Marina shifted, 150 feet or so.

Jack, our resident civil engineer, discovered the water lease was actually bigger than previously realized. In digging about at the City of Richmond, he found the actual dimensions and so we’ve moved up river another 100 feet or so. This is a good thing as a few of the boats were sitting on the beach on low tide. Here is where we were before. Notice where we are aligned with the “condo-MINIMUMS” across the river from us. (Thanks to this great pic from Jamie and Greg our friends from the MV Katherine Jane).

It all started last Sunday (March 25) afternoon at 5pm. Dumb time to do this to be true, but mostly somewhat dictated by the tides. Now the freshette is running and this also throws off the tide tables.

I thought it was all going quite well actually. I only briefly got irritated with Greig when he kept directing me to put “the thing, on the thing, over on the other thing.” Quickly realizing his lack of clarity, his voice dropped an octave and became infinitely more patient with me. At one point I looked up thinking that it must be about 8pm or so, and I quickly realized my error and it was in fact, 12:05am.

OYI! Somehow I managed to keep going until 2am when I insisted upon quiting for the evening or morning as it actually was. Greig stayed up configuring the docks and tightening up this and that until 5am until he finally crashed. Which is the time when I finally got off to sleep and was up at 7am to go to work. Thank goodness I didn’t have to use my brain much that day.

And here is the shift. Way over to the right now, land mark with those things called “homes” across the river...

On top of it all, we’d been anticipating a visit from Greig’s birth mum Caroline and half sister Leah, as they were coming down to the city from Whitehorse to get sister’s prom dress. I had taken a few vacation days for this but I hadn’t had a chance to “clean houses,” so I didn’t. Ah well, old Tana would have totally freaked out over that. I realize my limitations now and that I can’t be superwoman so I won’t bother trying so much. (Previous on-line jokes notwithstanding).

Fast foward to Wednesday evening (at least I think it was as it is a bit of a blur), Greig pulled up on the Bowie’s anchor and discovered it attached to a big deadhead. It was 11pm and short of starting up the chainsaw and, momentarily considering his lack of mental faculties due to the week’s exhaustion, realized that perhaps it was a chore best left for the morning - chainsaws being all that they are.

Speed up again to a quiet Thursday morning, 9am to be precise. Caroline and I notice how we were well out from shore one moment and then crazy close the next. Tide and freshette had pushed us very close to shore, and the bow of the Bowie was a bit out of the water by the water level along the hull. Literally it was one moment I could see us well out from the tip of Mitchell Island only to turn around and then not be. Out to the skiff Greig bolted and tried to push on the Bowie & Parntership assembly out again. And, if not sitting in the mud, the wee skiffy can do a fine job in pushing things about. He wasn’t going anywhere. I put a call into Phil Ogden and his grunty log salvage boat to see if he could come and help. He was less than an hour away.

The tide was running out quite quickly and I poked on the mud on the starboard side of the Parnership and easily felt bottom. I have three feet of draft or thereabouts. On the portside, it was more like 10’ plus. Phil arrived and began doing a prop wash of the bottom off the Partnership’s bow and we just waited and pulled and tried to reset the anchors and lines. At about 1:30 that afternoon and on the slack tide we were able to push the Bowie off the bottom. At the low tide I can see the hole Phil dug out with his boat now some 20 feet or so away from my starboard side.

Friday morning had me thinking we’d have a repeat of the day before but Greig was out again and managed to re-set the anchor some 300 yards again out into the river. All is holding fast and we’ve been re-assembling the docks. We can now look directly down Mitchell Island road — on the high tide of course.

Sore and exhausted, another week of drama has passed. For the time being we’ve longer hike down the docks but that will change soon. The ramp will move down to the east end of the property.

And now, the wind has kicked up after a sunny and rain free week. The tarps are flapping and I just heard a thunk and see that my chimney cap has finally flown off my stack. Something else to replace. Sigh.

We had a lovely visit with Caroline and Leah. Leah managed to find a very pretty lilac prom dress as well as shoes to match. Unfortunately, Caroline left us in worse shape than when she arrived. She took a tumble on the docks and on first assumption, wrenched her left shoulder. She declined a visit to the clinic to check it out as it the following day it seemed to be on the improve.

Dosha fashioned her a sling from a scarf I had crocheted and that seemed to help too. So upon arrival back home in Whitehorse, she discovered that she had indeed broken her upper arm. It's a clean break and that Dosha was the only one with the where-with all and intelligence to think of a simple sling was truly brilliant. Smart kid she is.

I am so sorry Caroline. I hope you aren’t to afraid to come back. Of all the dumb, stupid luck. May you heal well.