Saturday, April 17, 2010

A week on the Road

For us stay-at-homes this has been an unusual week - hopping into the car, up and over the various passes that lead out of the valley, taking pictures - snap, snap out the window , and enjoying the drive and the arrival.

Wednesday Charles forewent (is that a word, - forego, foregone, forewent????) his morning singing at the senior's centre to meet for lunch with old friends and schoolmates at the Penticton Golf Club.  Two or three times a year those members of the Class of '42 who live nearby meet to chat and enjoy each other's company.

THE CLASS OF '42 - at least three times I overheard other people at the club say in awe "I wasn't even born then"!  Well yes, perhaps you weren't, but we were, and although it wasn't my own class reunion I have grown to have a great affection for all these dear friends.

The weather was pleasant and the camera kept clicking on the way over the pass.  The tender green of the trees, tentatively unfurling each small leaf,  and the blend of blues in lake and sky combined to speak of Spring.

On Thursday we started off to the south to visit our VERY old friend, a century plus two!  

I took advantage of some clever software to stitch together two pictures of the lower Similkameen valley where the river is wending its way into the State of Washington.

The Olalla (Saskatoon) bushes dotted the hillside as we traveled the road up to the pass, and on the way back the first hint of Black-eyed Susans showed golden amidst the grey of the sage.

Today another quick trip to Penticton to play just one piece in a bell concert that wound up a workshop.

Oh look at how green Yellow Lake is today as it ripples and shimmers in the sunshine.

And at Luscious Lake the willows that line the water are reflected gloriously in the calm water.

It was raining in fits and starts and the countryside was washed clean, her springtime colours glowing and vibrant.

We have one more trip to make tomorrow, to attend a Pioneers' Tea and Reception where we hope to see friends of our youth and our middle years, all grown dear with past associations and friendships.

There is nought better to be 
With noble souls of company: 
There is nought dearer than to wend 
With good friends faithful to the end. 
This is the love whose fruit is sweet; 
Therefore to abide within is meet.
 ~Mahabharata (B.C.400) 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Skywatch Friday

April 16th, 2010

Another beautiful Similkameen sunrise from days gone by.

This afternoon's lovely blue sky with interesting cloud formations.

and in the distance Mount Chopaka, straddling the Canadian-U.S. border

For more interesting skies from around the world click here to go to Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ABC Wednesday

and the letter this week is M

M is for Mascot Mine

Located some twenty miles northwest of Keremeos where the old buildings of the Mascot Mine cling to the side of the mountain that towers above Hedley, ( which the Sukwnaginx people of the Similkameen called 'the place of the striped rock')

the rock face of the mountain upon which the Mascot Mine is located

The Mascot Mine Story (available in the Hedley Museum, tells us that by 1898 almost all of the Nickel Plate Mountain had been staked, but Duncan Woods, a hard luck prospector had learned that "prospectors 
tended not to bother pounding claim-stakes on terrain inclined toward the vertical".

"Woods identified an unclaimed sliver and in the summer of 1899 hired a local packer, George Cahill, to go up and take a look.  Cahill did and staked a claim for Woods on the very edge of the precipice which plunges some 2900 feet down" into Hedley.  This cliff face working surface was not conducive to attracting development money, and in 1904, when the main mining company on the mountain decided they might be interested they sent their superintendent to talk to Woods.  Alas, the man so angered the old prospector that he vowed he would "eat road apples and old shirts"  rather than let this mining company dig one shovelful of ore from his claim.

It would be 1931 until Woods was able to make a deal with a group of energetic businessmen from the Coast.  The mill started operating on May 5th, 1936.  By 1941 it had yielded almost a million dollars in dividends.

It was about this time that Charles became part of the operation, working for part of a year in the Mascot Mine before he joined the R.C.A.F.  He tells hairy tales of the mode of transportation supplied for shift workers.  The mill site was some 950 metres below the mine mouth, and to connect the two " a mile-long aerial tramway consisting of two pairs of precisely parallel cables upon which danced a pair of three-ton bottom-dump cars - plain rectangular gondolas hanging from two tandem-wheeled axels."

"The loaded weight of the descending car powered the system, and controlled the speed with a huge brake.  Whatever needed to get to the mine, including shift changes rode to the top in the ascending car".

The Mascot Mine has had its ups and downs.  In the 1990s it was felt worthwhile to work the tailing ponds from the mine, and when that enterprise was exhausted there was talk of burning the original buildings of the mine, perched above the town, lest some crime or accident would find the owners liable.

However, the potential of the mine site as a Tourist attractions resulted in the Provincial Government making handsome donations to the cause.  The Upper Similkameen Indian Band made badly needed repairs to the buildings and the Hedley Heritage Museum Society lent its support to the project.

In June of 2003 the Similkameen Band obtained a grant of $300,000.00 "to retrofit the abandoned Mine and make it a site for adventure tourism by developing an interpretive program that not only complements the view but also gives people a feel for what happened here 50 or 60 years ago"

Click here  and here for the story of this enterprise and for pictures of the Mine site as it is today.

My thanks for information obtained in part from an article by Donald Malcolm Wilson

What else has M to tell us, - click here to go to ABC Wednesday to find out.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12th, 2010

My mind is scrambling through the day, searching for something to write about.  What did I do? What should I pick??

Well, I set a record for leaving bed at five a.m. and returning to bed four minutes later - in the meantime padding down the hallway, scooping up the sleeping dog, slipping on a jacket, carrying him down the stairs and he, sleepy eyed, quickly tinkled (euphanism...) and came back to be picked up and deposited on the couch to finish his night's sleep.  And I too, was soon back to sleep for another hour.

When the mornings are warmer and lighter I stay up and putter in the garden, but still, in April, the sweet warmth of the bed calls me back.

Monday, and I change the bed linen, wash the breakfast dishes while I watch the rosy breasted finches feeding on the niger seed in the far apple tree.  I haven't seen any gold finches yet, but they will be back soon.

Small sighs of dismay when I dip into the day's list of blogs I follow and find that the Weaver of Grass has posted a list of literary quotes that SOMEBODY has identified completely.  100%.....  They are mostly all familiar, but I could certainly never identify all the authors.

I go on to do some paper work, write a letter of love, take Caspar for another short walk to shake off all the trimmings that Charles has clipped off his little legs.  Now that he is such an old gentlemen we do this job in bits and pieces, - a little trimming today, a little more tomorrow, and so on.  Before the job is all finished he is inclined to look a little shaggy in spots, but there - does that really matter when the sun is warm and the breeze is fresh and he lives to see another spring.

We stop for a cup of coffee, and then I go out and start some water on the garden, - a small sprinkler that will do the job efficiently and not disperse the water into the wind and away, away.

Lunch time and I open a can of onion soup to add to the cheddar cheese and hamburger concoction - a leftover in the freezer.  Charles has always been most appreciative of his meals,  - handy with compliments and sparse with complaints.  For which endearing trait I am most appreciative.

A little reading after lunch, until I nod off - then up, refreshed, and out to the kitchen to bake a batch of banana/blueberry muffins and make plans for supper, - is there enough salad left, - shall I retrieve a chicken breast and shake and bake it?

It is Happy Hour, but Charles has escaped outside and is deep into a new watering project involving pipes and stiff plastic hose that is not in the least amenable to bending, - I don my go-fer cap and eventually we settle down to a little drink, a little supper for us, and for Caspar and Callie the cat, -  an hour of Tom Barnaby, and then I am off to bell practice.

our bell choir at Christmas

We practice a concert piece and then we shine the bells and pack up for a workshop on Saturday.

Home, and the end of a perfectly ordinary day that nevertheless gives great contentment for things accomplished, for peacefulness and conversation, for friends and dear ones to cook and care for, for the mourning dove that Charles spotted in the neighbour's tree and called me to come and see, for the barn flowers that are waiting to be planted and are flourishing still in their plastic bags.

The world is so full of these wonderful, ordinary days.   Amen