hunkered down …. again

Well we have had a wonderful 3 days of exploring, rock hounding, and just taking in Vitamin D, but now we are once again hunkered down in a storm. 30 MPH winds with gusts up to 70 MPH. BUT what a great place to be hunkered down. Ocean swells of 20 feet combined with high tides of 10 feet.

Hunkered seems to be the operative word these days…. Hunkered down because of Covid, because of heat dome, because of fires, because of smoke, because of Covid, because of snow, because of COLD, and now a storm. I must admit, this must be my favourite. This was the day before.

We ARE at our favourite campground, the Sea and Sand, Depoe Bay, Oregon. It is the place we found our very first agates. It is also the place where the roof of our older motorhome’s roof disintegrated in a storm (?6 years ago?) It is unique in that you can just sit up on your perch and watch the ocean.

On the sunny days before we got here we had a wonderful hike in Lincoln City, at Roads End beach. Kind of cool all of that white veins cascading down, even making up the base of the beach.

We DID have to do a bit of climbing to get over to the next beach.

But it was well worth it… basically a beach to ourselves that was covered in Agates.

So shall not complain about being trapped indoors once again, doing Jigsaw puzzles, making bread, watching movies.

We feel very fortunate that we did not fly anywhere over the holidays, must have been quite horrendous for almost everyone.

I have been following all of the news and studies thus far released about the new Covid Variant, Omicron. Seeing the record breaking numbers of new cases, without the subsequent rise in hospitalizations and deaths, it certainly is a different disease. Apparently the reason is, that it does not invade the lungs, at least with animal studies. Another recent finding is that those who have been fully vaccinated and then gotten Covid, become “superimmunized”. Their antibodies become extremely high. It is felt that THESE people will likely be able to fend off any variants. It is with all of these findings put together, I believe that this Omicron variant might just bring about the beginning of the end for Covid. (at least among the Immunized) With the extremely high numbers of cases, we could truly achieve herd immunity. I hope, I hope, I hope…. that I am right. 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

New Years resolutions, to live life slower, to enjoy moments more.

Thanks for reading Much Love Janet, Ken and Tucker, the hunkered down hound who is not happy about it.

a run from winter…..

We certainly feel like we are on the run from winter. We “hunkered down” for 3 days in Kelowna, with the warnings of large amounts of snowfall. On Boxing Day we went so far as driving down to Summerland, in the jeep, to get a first hand view of what the roads actually looked like, they were not bad. However the one campground in Canada in Osoyoos we knew was open. did not answer phone, or messages (christmas break) So we opted to head south on the 27th. The temp was down to -24C (at -40, calcius and Farenheit become the same)

Of interest, we went for dinner on Christmas Day at Ken’s cousins place, a friend was there who was a meteorologist. He gave Ken a lesson on predicting weather with an app, ands so we have been studying this app closely planning on how to get through Washington trying to minimize the extreme cold and the snow. The purple is the big, bad, cold monster, freezing everywhere in sight.

So we studied THIS map AND also the one that showed snow predictions, and it was clear that (1) there WAS a clearing on the radar of any snowfall.. on Monday (27th), and (2) we HAD to get to the coast of Oregon to avoid Snowstorms AND the cold.

We got as far as Wenachee, and the state park was open (yea) and they had electric hookups (yea), and that was all we needed. On seeing the campground, I immediately thought “we have found our people”. I assumed that these were all crazy Canadians desperate and enroute to find a spot of ground that had no snow on it….. But I was wrong, they were all Washington plates, which I found confusing. 🤔Wenatchee seems like a nice city, but hardly a winter destination??

What a cosy night we had. Finally on the road. Our first night camping in our new (to us) motorhome. We have not filled it with water and the pipes are not hooked up at all. We have big jugs of water and antifreeze in the sewer pipes. Our newer RV has double windows which do not seem to steam up and freeze, at all. (and this has been quite a trial for them). So we SHOULD be able to travel to more places with this rig, in the past we have avoided even the mildest dip below freezing.

The whole of Washington seemed to have a layer of ice on the top of the snow.

Campgrounds DO look quite different in the winter. No need to make reservations, and lots more open space and no little dogs to get Tucker riled up.

OH HERE are the OTHER Canadians who put off leaving a little too long…. Poor geese.

So thus far we have been traveling separately, out of concern for icy roads we figured having a tow vehicle would add to the risks of sliding.(or slipping) 😊

From Wenatchee we drove down in cold and windy conditions along the Columbia, which I wish I could have stopped more to take more pictures as the valley that the Columbia river has carved out is so incredibly beautiful all the way along. We stopped briefly to get these a picture -15 Celsius and strong winds.

We ended up crossing over into Oregon, and the crossing back into Washington to this great little campground, the Maryhill state campground. It was -2 Celsius (approx 30 F). ROCKS!!! (what we came for.) Unfortunately the only ones not covered with snow were in the water.

We could see Oregon from our spot 😊

as it turned out, we were the ONLY ones in the campground. which is a wee bit eery, but kind of nice too.

Well we awoke to 2 inches of new snow and lots more falling. So we got ourselves going quickly and got back to Oregon, heading west. I must say it felt a bit like we were in some movie trying to outrun some enemy. SNOW. So an hour of driving west we finally outran the snowstorm, which we knew was heading east. And here is Multnomah falls, strategically placed such that you see them from the pull off on the highway.

So we are now in Lincoln city OR, on the coast, feeling quite accomplished (and smug). We ARE going to stop driving for a little while. It IS hovering near freezing here, but quite a different story. We have tenters on both sides of us, with campfires. Thankfully there were a few spots that were still high and dry

So this is us last night. Ken has hooked up the water lines and we have filled up with water. Luxury. If you are wondering why our jeep door is a different colour ….. it was an accident I had with the tractor, I ran into the jeep with the bucket partly up.

Covid seems to be skyrocketing every where, with the new Omicron variant. I have been following the numbers very closely and recognize that the governments world wide are being extremely cautious in releasing any good news about Covid for fear that it might empower the antivaxxers. I DO think that these charts speak for themselves. The first chart is daily new cases in S Africa, and the second is deaths. What is not shown is hospitalizations, which is also down.

So it appears clearly that Omicrom is an extremely infectious variant, but not as deadly as the previous variants. All reports are that although the new case count is higher that it has ever been, it HAS become a disease of the unvaccinated, as they seem to be the only ones requiring hospitalization. The very sad thing, though, is that I am hearing of many fully vaccinated people dying of OTHER causes, because they are unable to be treated at a hospital,( as hospitals are full of unvaccinated covid patients). Who is to blame for these deaths? Our situation is so different from a year ago, I never EVER would have imagined this happening, after the frightful year we had last year.(before the vaccines were out there). How has our society come to the place where the personal agenda of the very few determines life and death of others?

I can only hope that the New Year might see a different direction for society. We certainly have seen the worst this year.

Much love to all Janet, Ken and Tucker.

Christmas travel…….

Ken and Tucker and I are officially on the road again. Although it HAS taken days of deliberation to finally take “the plunge” Plunge, that is, the trip down the hill from our house over snowy roads with our motorhome. We have been watching the weather reports, the road reports, and playing that all into our Christmas family plans and getting more stressed each day.

Although it is not clear from this, we have had about 3 feet of snow so far and Ken has been out plowing every few days to keep our “WAY OUT” open.

Ken has gone over the drive of the motorhome down the hill from our house, IN HIS HEAD, many many times. He was so relieved yesterday that he made it down the hill, and it went perfectly.

I have put a little house in to show where our house is 😊 It is not our REAL house, it is pretending house.

I drove the jeep down and we got almost to the main highway and he stopped and took off the chains.

Stepping out of motorhome into 3 feet of snow.

So even though there were warnings about snow, we decided to leave because there is a very cold front on the way, starting on Christmas Day (today) Forecast was for -24 Celsius / -11 Fahrenheit, and we were deciding which was worse, the snow, or the cold. Now, when it is very cold, the road conditions are actually better usually because the very cold pavement becomes more sticky for your tires. However we were just not sure how we can keep the motorhome warm at those temperatures. Once all your stuff is packed, you are more or less committed to keeping the rig above freezing for the trip.( or all of your liquids will freeze, your electronics will freeze and your musical instruments (well you can imagine)). So once you are packed up, you ARE committed. We ALSO decided that once we were down the hill we were committed, NO TURNING BACK. Quite uncertain if we could get back up that hill with the motorhome. So we left yesterday and got as far as Kelowna.

We have gotten a lot done on our house since our last trip. We have started to fill in the holes we left in the floor, …….with …rocks. So here is the hole in the floor that has had plywood over it for the past year.

So Ken put a layer of concrete down to (fill in) the base of the opening.

I started applying mortar to the backs of the rocks and cementing them to 1/4 inch cement board. As you can see, our cutlery comes in handy.. we DO wash them before we eat with them 🤔

….. then we put the cement board (with the rocks attached) down into the hole. Once we had cemented the cement board down we grouted. We WILL need a sign upon entering our house…NO Stilettos!!!

We decided that the pattern needed a break and so inserted some left over tiles in the centre and continued on to the other end.

The green spotted rocks we collected from the Olympic peninsula because they JUST SO HAPPENED to match my kitchen cupboards. (well sort of)🐚🐚

Other projects we have done,…… I tiled the area to the right of the stairs with some cool blue tiles we found at Habitat for humanity (and agates) and ammonites.

So as we work on these projects a massive home is coming up in front of our house. We CAN still see the lake, but had never dreamed that someone would do this. We have never lived any where near such a massive home, let alone one in front of us……..We SHALL be planting a hedge…..

With covid and all of the shipping issues…. our kitchen lights have taken 8-9 months to arrive, but they were certainly worth the wait. ( I wonder if we had ordered them and NOT liked them, would we have had any options 🤔) WE DO LOVE THEM.

We HAD started these windows last year, but got lazy over the summer… just cement board on either side of the windows.

Then….. with tiles we found at Habitat for humanity (Restore) we placed them around the lead glass window

We liked them so much we ordered more of them and put them around all of the lead glass windows.

So we are feeling QUITE accomplished about our house, although my pictures are designed to ONLY show the good stuff. We have plenty more jobs to get going on to really finish. But it was time to get moving. We tend to miss seeing the ground. Perhaps too many winters spent in places that did not get snow. We have both had 3 vaccines for covid, and have loaded up the motorhome with the fruits of our summer labours and hope to not spend a lot of time around other people. At least not a LOT of people. I am quite confident that this new variant of covid mutated to become much more infectious, but much less virulent. Maybe it will become the beginning of the end of covid. We can hope.🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉

Merry christmas from Ken and Tucker and me. MUCH LOVE. Thanks for reading.

other fall adventures…

Ken and Tucker and I have hit the road again.

We are once again down on the Olympic penninsula wandering the beaches. AND cycling, this is my new eEbike, and we are traveling in for groceries etc on our bikes. It IS a bit of a granny bike, but then again I AM a granny.

We really do like this lifestyle. We recently watched Nomadland, and just loved it, while others found it depressing. The thought of being able to just pick up and move along when you have tired of the scenery, or enjoyed the hikes…. is just so appealing.

That being said, we are sitting 17 feet above sea level in La Push looking out at a stormy ocean. The wind is howling at 50 MPH and it is pouring. Apparently THIS is a town that there is concern for with regards to rising oceans. They ARE locating any newer homes at higher elevations. We have sprung a leak in our newer motorhome and Ken is trying to patch it up. It is NOT the roof, thank goodness, it is the lower part of the slide(pop out) is gathering water. We made a 4 day reservation for this spot a month ago, and the rains are pretty much confined to those same four days, so this rain should only last until we leave here. We are thinking we SHOULD have brought the slides in, had we known this storm was coming. I would post a picture of the storm, but it is hard to capture storms, even hurricane pictures look mild unless they can captures some tree crashing down on something. So this was YESTERDAY, gorgeous day.

We hiked the Rialto beach, much the same as we did in August. It seemed then that everyone else had a destination, we were just looking for rocks. The rockhound books just talked about the rocks.🤔

But yesterday we found out that the “destination” was the hole in the wall rock. It is a rock that you can pass through only at low tides, otherwise you have to climb over the ridge. Sadly Ken and I both thought we had taken pictures of the “hole in the wall” but alas, Ken’s picture had me in the middle blocking the hole in the wall, and my picture was non existent. (at least you can see my new REI coat 😀) Finally a waterproof (gortex) coat, just in time.

and Tucker is ONE happy dog. Everyone on the beach stopped to pet him, and one group of 5 teenage girls made a big fuss over him, so he put on a show for them. (what a ham)….. and LOOk at all them rocks 😀

Well as it turned out, the beach was not the only highlight yesterday. On our way back to La Push from Rialta beach, we took a little detour and parked just off the road and went looking for mushrooms, the conditions just seemed so right.

some misc mushrooms….
and then Chanterelles…

I guess I was so busy picking mushrooms I failed to photo them…. insitu. but here they are in the dryer.

and yes we DID bring our dryer with us, and so now we have dried chanterelles to add to our dried beans, and dried tomatoes in our instant pot…..just add salt and garlic.

So great to be on the road.

thanks for reading

Much love Janet, Ken and Tucker (the ham)

A vaccine is not a miracle, it is a tool….

A vaccine is not a miracle that takes away everything. All it was ever intended to achieve is merely a head start for your body to build up a defence against a potentially deadly infection. Nothing more…..

We do not have a vaccine against a common cold, because they are mild infections and rarely if ever directly cause death. Because it is mild, our body is able to mount a response and fight it, and everyone lives happily ever after…(sort of) No biggie. A drag but nothing more. The flu is more severe… and while most of us are able to fight off the flu, many of us just do not have a strong enough system to fight off the flu. SO we have a vaccine against the flu. SO people will not die of the flu.

Covid 19 is another story. It is even MORE severe than the flu, it can kill a few times more people (%) than the flu, AND it causes long term syndromes that might not kill you but might leave you disabled for the rest of your life. THESE are not counted in the death toll, but might land you in a nursing home with dementia, stroke or lung disease, after covid. So covid kills 2-3 times more people, AND can also leave people debilitated for the rest of their lives, something that the flu does not do.

It is said that the reason that children do not become as ill (and die) from covid is because they have much smaller airways and the virus tends to affect the upper airways early on, allowing the immune system to get a head start before it gets down into the lungs. So in adults who become extremely ill the virus lands in the lungs, and it is harder for the body to mount a response as quickly when such a major body system is affected. So it is sort of like the virus SNUCK IN and set up shop and was very active before the bodies immune system got the message.

In old people, or people on immunosuppressant drugs (for autoimmune diseases) or who are on chemo, the bodies immune system is either being suppressed or in the case of the elderly, it just does not work as well as in the young. In these cases the virus gets a chance to REALLY set up shop….unimpeded. In THESE people, the vaccine is given, but does not work as well. We cannot be certain in these people that the vaccine will be able to stimulate the immune system enough to save them. Sadly elderly people who have had the vaccine, still might die of it.

SO WHAT IS A VACCINE??????? I have included a excerpt from the CDC describing the first “vaccine”, where vaccination began. Essentially the body being given a small dose of the virus allowing it to mount a response, so it is ready for it when an infection comes along. If you were to think in military terms, you would never want your castle to be unprepared for the attack of a foe…. so essentially a vaccine would be like preparing your OWN army before another one arrived….so you are ready. They cannot sneak up on you.

2 brothers exposed to smallpox, the one on the right had been vaccinated.

THIS is a basic description of the very first vaccine. (for Smallpox)

This process has changed many times and ways as the years have gone on to make them safer, as you can imagine, there might be problems dealing with the actual virus. But the basic principals have not changed. The vaccine is something given to you to give your body a head start in fighting a potential foe….. 😀

So that brings us to today and Covid 19 and new vaccines that the principal is about the same…. a tool to stimulate your immune system so it is ready when the real infection comes along. This is a description from the CDC, about how the mRNA vaccines work.

It seems that some have tried to make people think that the vaccine alters your DNA. Has no one thought for a moment that IF we had the technology to change someone’s DNA by giving them a shot in the arm of 0.3 CC of vaccine, that we would have already been able to cure a huge host of diseases already. Look at diabetes, look at all the cancers, cystic fibrosis, how about Huntingtons Chorea. Do you not think that if scientists could change DNA by giving a shot….. that we would already be rid of most of these diseases?????? 🤔🤔🤔🤔

Just because you tell a lie loud, and with great confidence, it is still a lie.

Please get the covid vaccine.

Dr Janet Bates

they walk amongst us… the unvaccinated!

They walk amongst us, they work amongst us, their children go to the same schools as our children, they  shop amongst us, and they provide “care” for us if we are ill (scariest of all).  If you go to a hospital, you might be cared for by a health professional who thought that their own “personal health choices” was more important than your life.

And they breath amongst us, the scary bit.  Back in the days of AIDS, the feeling was that someone who was having unprotected homosexual sex was basically a criminal for spreading a deadly disease.   YET we have people continuing to breath the same air we breath …..who did not accept a treatment that would have ended this pandemic.

They have their reasons, ……things they have heard….things they have seen on youtube, things they have even dreamt up themselves. 

I have heard almost every type of disease quoted as the reason NOT to have the vaccine….. cancer, autoimmune diseases, infertility…. The list goes on.  A neighbour gave the excuse that a friend of hers “almost died from vaccine”. Funny how they do not WARN those around them that they are NOT VACCINATED!

What troubles me is that this being one of the biggest “personal health decisions” that  they are making, and they have not consulted a doctor to discuss their concerns.   In fact it seems that on this issue that the unvaccinated have decided that doctors are part of a broader conspiracy  to harm people.  I guess being a doctor, THIS  IS the hardest part of it all.  What will happen when they have a headache that they think is cancer, who will they trust when they have abdominal pain that is not going away.  Will they believe a doctor who says “I think you need this treatment”…… and will doctors who are already overburdened with too many patients, want to waste time on someone who does not trust them on a basic issue like this.

The sad truth is that for many who have opted not to get the vaccine as a “health choice” do not REALLY have concerns about the vaccine, for many are the same people who would not wear masks. They JUST do not care, and are not about to have anyone tell them what to do, kind of like drunk drivers. No concern for those around them, ………selfish…You CAN get away with driving while drunk…. until something happens, and its bad.

Seeing a group of nurses creating memes saying that they had been the heroes last year with Covid and that they are being fired now for making a “personal health decision”is so troubling for me. 

They are not being fired (a lie) they are being required to have the vaccine in order to look after high risk patients. THINGS change. Would you be OK with the school bus driver to carry on after their vision went?  A firefighter who had developed a fear of heights?  A lawyer who has dementia?  What about Typhoid Mary. She was just an Irish immigrant who needed a job, only problem was that the only jobs involved cooking for people and she carried typhoid fever. She went to jail for many years.

NOT to say that there are not Doctors as well who are adding to this big lie as well. In fact our governing body, the College of physicians and surgeons are disciplining doctors for spreading misinformation.

We are all tired of all of this. A year and a half, going on 2 years of our lives being extremely affected by a disease that should have been curtailed right from the beginning, except for a group of people who have little concern for fellow human beings. A part of me wonders if SOME of these people are so marginalized in their thinking that they actually FINALLY have something that they can hold the rest of us ransom for. Gives them power….. that they would never actually have had. Something that they can fling around at the rest of us, who are just wanting our lives to be normal again.

The very sad NEW thing, is that BECAUSE of those who choose NOT to get vaccinated, we are now starting to need booster shots, as the ones who got the vaccine at the beginning are becoming more prone to Covid. The new Delta variant is MUCH more infectious than the original covid. AND most of the world has only been able to vaccinate about 2% of their population. So the unvaccinated are not only affecting those here, they are also affecting the rest of the world, because the US is going to start doing 3rd booster shots for the most prone individuals.

I guess I would like to end this blog on a positive note. Those who are unvaccinated make up a very small group of people. They seem to be a very vocal group, but they ARE THE MINORITY. In British Columbia they announced a vaccine passport will be required to attend all non essential venues, such as restaurants, gyms, night clubs…. etc. On Monday the Covid vaccine bookings were up 174%. 👍👍👍


sometimes you need a reboot….

Sometimes you just need to reset your entire brain. Turn it off and turn it on again and see what comes up. So on August 2nd, we left. WE just left. We decided to leave….. after a year and a half of covid and then the 2 weeks of being UNDER THE heat dome and then another month of smoke and fear of fire. We decided that we had built our home as fire proof as we could and there was little we could do here anyways ……. other than go MAD……😤

We packed up motorhome and drove down to the Olympic peninsula, and …. rebooted. Tried to find that place of mind that we always get to when we go away in the winters, where all we really need to worry about is …. where we are going to camp today, what will do DO today and what we will have for supper.

Because it was peak of summer, we could not find a camping spot anywhere, and Tucker gets so pissed at all the other dogs in campgrounds anyways…. so we dry camped, which Ken has us set up for in this new RV. We have enough solar to be able to run the CPAP (Ken’s) all night and have plenty left over for charging things and lights. No Air-conditioning though, which was only an issue one night. There was a heat wave while we were down in Washington and coastal towns that usually never get that hot, were well over 35 C 95F….. But we have resolved that we could rectify that easily by getting a small fan, just to move air. The nights were cool.

We were able to travel down to Washington, because we have dual citizenship US/Canadian. The US border is closed to people from Canada and Mexico driving across border, but flying is totally open. Seems kind of crazy. We were not even asked about Vaccination or covid tests. We camped for the most part at Casinos. No booking required, and long as you are self contained, people just seem to come and go as they wish. You DO have to check in with the casino and some places you had to get a “rewards card”. I usually (purely out of obligation)went into casino and “parted with some money” 🙂 for our camping. WE WERE impressed that being on indigenous lands, they were quite strict about masks. I read somewhere that First Nations have the highest rate of being fully immunized.

Our destination was La Push, a place we DID have a reservation on the western coastal side of the Olympic penninsula. It is a First Nations resort area, and they were VERY strict about masks, because they had been closed down for a year because of covid. Many lives and livelihoods would be affected by an outbreak.

These are Poppy Jasper, the rocks that are unique to the olympic penninsula. The way that the different coloured minerals settle creates a lovely poppy appearance which is accentuated with polishing them (with tumbler).

These are turtle rocks, another stone found primarily on the olympic penninsula. They ALSO polish up nicely, and I am hoping to put the poppy jasper and the turtle rocks into the floor design. (they match my cabinets 🙂)

Thanks to the rock books we were able to find many lovely beaches that were empty except for us and a few other rock hounds.

This was a scene I thought I captured on camera, on a farm, in a rural area. After I watched for awhile, I realized that both of them were statues…. ODD place to have statues this perfect.

OH and beer….. the Pacific Northwest is known for the beer, so we filled our growlers (a few) times.🐅

These are called concretions…. rock has formed around bits of grass or something and formed these symmetrical shapes. The beaches north of Port Angeles were covered with them, very interesting, some of them that had worn away had crystals in them.

Tucker is NOT a water dog, but just wandered out during the heat wave.

We USUALLY travel in the winter, and the tides tend to be higher in the winter, and lower in the summer, so in the summer THESE are the kinds of things we get to see with the low tides.

We DO love the ocean, and we found ourselves wondering what we are doing living where we are. There seems to be no signs that, despite the horrendous summer we have had, that anyone is willing to do anything to alter the course of climate change. So we will likely continue to have very hot, very smokey summers. The almighty dollar will always win. We are about to have a federal election and there is very little talk about climate change…… SO we did find ourselves looking at places we might dream of living. We are like that. We do those kinds of things, I guess it goes along with the vagabond way we are.

I just LOVE these HUGE barnacles.

We got home a week ago, we had to get covid tests and fill out all of our info on arrivecan app. The covid test was $189 each and it was hard to find a place that we could get the test. The results took about 36 hours.(we found a lab called anylabtestsnow……)

Many years ago we went to a medical conference that was geared for physician health. They introduced us to a concept that we were just reminded of on this trip. TARZAN HOLIDAYS. Tarzan never let go of the “rope” before he had another one to grab onto. The suggestion was that you never come home from a holiday until you have planned the next one. SOOOO we have booked our next trip a month after we got home from this one, and will be back on the olympic penninsula soon.

Oh and ONE more thing. I turned 65 on this trip and decided to make the day special, I would get a hair cut. I have not had a proper hair cut in over 2 years. (I have been cutting it myself). I found a very lovely salon in La Conner and had a wonderful visit with a stylist whom I just loved. I have decided that I am going to go to La Conner for my haircuts from now on.

Back in BC…. we encountered very heavy smoke on the Coquihalla, and even donned our N95 masks. But by the time we got home our lake has cleared out and we have had great clear skies since.

We have been home a week now, I am back to work and mask mandates have been implemented. I am totally appalled at the number of people still wishing to work in LTC (with the most vulnerable people) who have not been vaccinated. MORE ON THAT IN NEXT BLOG

Much love to all, Janet, Ken and Tucker the OCEAN dog.

Covid….vaccine… immunology etc 😊

If I had only learned immunology when I had the chance.  😊1986 was the year I started medical school, I do not think I am a genius and there were clearly classmates MUCH smarter than I was.  But to get accepted into medical school back then, you had to beat out 18 other people. One in 18 people got accepted.  It was funny being in Med school, I was not sure  I belonged there, until the first set of exams, and I managed to score “in the pack” so finally was comfortable that I might survive in that setting. I only say this in that getting INTO med school was not a walk in the park.🤔 It seems though that the way everyone talks these days, you could easily get a med degree in a crackerjack box.

One of the courses in 1st year was immunology.  It was a new course to the curriculum, and EVERYONE struggled with it.  It was a tough course, and tougher … not totally knowing its relevance in the real world of being a doctor.   As such, that the teachers, who were a cool couple of guys designed a T Shirt at the end of the year, “if I had only learned immunology when I had the chance”.

That was 35 years ago, and clearly immunology has become relevant to many areas of medicine, but never so relevant as this past year with the covid  virus and the subsequent vaccine.  The past 6 months have really been something, taking the hardest course in medical school and suddenly every Tom, Dick and Harry has become an expert in it. ENOUGH to advise others as to the right thing to do.

As a doctor, I am fully aware that every tidbit of information I give to someone, I am fully responsible for.  If I am wrong in any way, and if something bad happens, I am liable, responsible, and someone could actually sue me.  So for many reasons, I try to only give information what I feel to be correct, and the safest information that has been studied in large numbers of people.

You can easily come to the wrong conclusion about an issue looking at a small group of people.  For instance, if I had 3 friends named Sally and they all got breast cancer, one might be apt to conclude that there is something associated with the name Sally and breast cancer.

The thing about medicine, or any profession I am sure is that you learn the concepts from the ground up and you continue learning using the groundwork you have learned. Ken and I are rockhounds and know a smattering about the rocks that we like, but we have never learned the real basics of geology so that when someone asks me about how they are formed etc, I can only give my interpretation of how they are formed, I cannot say with any confidence that this is actually true. The concept of doing your own research in a field that you have absolutely NO training at, is a dangerous folly.(unless … of course…. you go all the way back and do anatomy, physiology ….? Immunology.)

I guess it would be like me having to name a rock on the beach, and my life depending on being 100% right. (I would be so screwed)

The thing about the vaccine is that there WERE large control studies before it was shown to be safe. What control means is that large ~25000 were given the vaccine and approx the same number were given a placebo, and the number who died was about the same in both groups. (if you think about a town the size of 25000, there likely are a few people who die most days….of quite natural causes.) So the vaccines WERE shown to be safe.

so the control group would be the same as the placebo group….

I guess the OTHER main thing to prove was…. do the vaccines work? Well there are VERY few studies in medicine that show the kinds of effects that are as BLATANT as this vaccine. Usually in medical studies you need a statistician to show the difference between 2 groups to show if a drug actually made a difference.

Well with the Covid vaccine, all you need to do is to go to the death rate in the USA, and calculate that the vaccine started to be given around the end of December 2020 in the US. There are VERY few things in medicine that are THIS cut and dry. No one could argue that the vaccines do not work. Any “Dummie” could see where the vaccines started.

I am not sure that there is a lot more to say other than those who are not vaccinated are at a MUCH MUCH higher risk of getting the virus AND getting seriously ill. First off, all those who have been vaccinated CAN still spread the disease, despite not becoming ill with it themselves. Second, most of the restrictions have been lifted, and so the Covid Virus CAN spread around a lot more, its just there will be less who show symptoms (IE the vaccinated).

This is where the term “herd immunity” comes in. Those who have had the vaccine (if they have a good immune system) do not become seriously ill with it and although they can still contract the virus and spread it, it is MUCH less so that if they had not had the vaccine. If EVERYONE had the vaccine, the disease would drop in society, protecting those who have poor immune systems.(those whom the vaccine does not provide enough immunity to fight the virus) EG those on chemo, the elderly and those with chronic diseases.

This new Variant of the covid virus has been shown to be MUCH more easily spread. The original Covid replicated a LOT, only in some people, and those people were called super spreaders, but the Delta variant has been shown to do this in most people with the virus, which is why it is so infectious.

The OTHER thing that no one seems to talk about, is LONG COVID. Those who become seemingly permanently disabled because of Long Covid. The damage done by the virus having permanent effects. Lung disease, dementia….. it all depends on where the virus attacks.

Much love to all, make your choices wisely.


We WILL rebuild…. the soil

Talking with the contractor…. Photo credits Auntie Pat

If the last month has taught us anything, its that we need to build up our soil and protect it. When the temperatures got up to 45 degrees Celsius here, at the end of June, there was no way I could keep our plants watered. We would water by drip tape at night and in the middle of the day the plants were VERy frumpy… Although we are fortunate to have a great well and were able to water this much, many are not and who knows for how long you will have a great well.

Its just that the exposed ground dries so very quickly in high heat, and the water is GONE

Photo credit Auntie Pat

SO when the going gets tough the tough gets growing… or something like that. 😀

notice how grim this garden looks….

So we have started putting down wood chips… in a BIG way. Years ago we watched the video….. BACK TO EDEN GARDENING DOCUMENTARY FILM.

The concept of Back to Eden gardening is that you take wood chips from the companies that trim trees (hydro etc) and layer it with compost, manure, and it breaks down into a lovely soil that retains moisture and needs far less watering. Some say they never need to water, but usually you have to water some. The man who developed this form of gardening went out to the forest near where he lived and thought……everything grows in the forest without additional watering, how can I recreate it. When I saw the film, I had been going out into the forest behind OUR property and gathering dirt, because it seemed so healthy. But his method seemed to work better, and I could not bring the whole forest floor home. 😀

We were “gifted” with about 8 dump truck loads of wood chips and so we arranged them in this 90×40 foot space, approx 2-3 feet deep. Over the years they settled and created this lush garden (this picture is very early in the year) This is mostly just broken down wood chips.

Our garden from our previous house in Scotch Creek. This would have been our 3rd year of Back To Eden (BTE) garden. After a few years, you no longer even see the wood chips, they just compost.

Fast forward to now….

The new garden I am working on up on the second tier of our property, I have layered top soil, then wood chips and then manure. As a test I planted some beans up there in mid May. The area has NO water, and it has rained twice. The temperatures have gotten higher than ever seen in Canada, and still the beans grew. I only planted a few. This garden is for next years garlic.

This is the new row on the upper tier. It will be 200 feet long and about 8 feet wide. It doesn’t look like it in the picture but it IS wider than it looks.

I should add that I also planted some potatoes in wood chip piles with NO watering and the plants are coming along well now.

So we have been gradually adding wood chips to all parts of the garden we can get at with the tractor.

I have tried to take pictures as we have been doing this…over the past month or so, to show our progress.

There are concerns with wood chips that the nitrogen will be held up as the wood chips break down, causing anything planted to possibly suffer from low nitrogen. So we are starting to add nitrogen on top of the wood chips to allow for that. These little morsels are alfalfa cookies…. (actually alfalfa pellets). I am sure they ARE cookies for horses. They suggest you add lawn clippings on top of the wood chips, but we do not have lawn, so are adding alfalfa. We HOPE to get more manure later in the summer.

Not sure if it shows in these two pictures, but they are before and after, and how much more lush the garden looks with the wood chips. Of course the smoke kind of takes away from that.

Here are our tomato plants at the front, I had to create a tunnel through them to find the ripe tomatoes yesterday.

Now THIS is my 3 sisters North American native garden. It is a method of growing 3 vegetables utilizing the advantages of each to help the others. Corn, Squash and climbing beans. Corn takes a lot from the soil (a heavy feeder) but grows tall, and the beans use the corn to climb up, but the beans also provide nutrients to the soil for the corn and the squash. The squash provides shade for the roots of the corn and beans, and also keeps weeds down. I do not think I planted this properly because the beans did not get going early enough to start climbing and have been completely shaded by the very successful growth of the other 2 crops. I will know what to do differently next year. 🤔. This year lots of corn and crookneck squash.

a week ago…..
The smoke is just getting worse….

It DOES look a bit like a plane here. I wanted to show the solar panels. We do NOT have a LOT Of them, but they were helpful during the VERY hot spell, (the heat dome the last week in June) we had our air conditioning heat pump on, and our energy consumption was near to zero, with the help of the solar panels. In the news BC hydro said that they hit their peak of usage that week, the highest amount they have ever recorded. …..BUT not from us 😀. THAT includes charging our electric car.

They say when you are dealt lemons, make lemonade…. WELL if we are going to have scorching heat with climate change, it makes sense to at least try to take advantage of it.🤔

So THIS is where we live. If you look at the centre of the map, there is a blue area (lake) and KAMLOOPS to the left and down. Salmon Arm to the right and down from where we live. We have no fires within 25 KM of where we live. HOWEVER…. we are totally surrounded by large fires. The statement today on the weather station was that our air currently is the worst on the planet.

I guess what we are experiencing now is climate change and the poorer nations have been experiencing this for a long time with draughts, floods etc.. I guess this year is a chance for the richer nations to experience climate change. I hope that one of these days, something will happen to convince people that our addiction to fossil fuels is killing our planet.

So that is what we are upto

thanks for reading, much love

Janet, Ken and Tucker.

(there is) Still life, under the dome

It is hard to know just where to begin with this blog. I feel like we have been left too long in a sauna, and then thrown in a fire (a wee bit melodramatic) THERE ARE 2 Parts to this blog PRE JULY 1 and then July 1st. 2 stories.

We have just come out of a week of temperatures that we have never seen, and most of our country has never seen. All time records have been broken and in fact our little town likely broke an all time Canadian record temperature of 45 degree Celsius (113F). There is flooding in the north, because the glaciers are melting.

Sadly, a town 200 km from us, (Lytton) broke that record each of 3 subsequent days, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and on Tuesday ( June 29th) the temperature of 49.5 C (121F) was felt to possibly be the hottest place on earth that day. Up here in the Great White North.

Sadly the following day, June 30th, the town burned down, the people had minutes to escape and at least 2 people died in that fire. Trying to imagine being at temperatures that high for that many days and then a fire. Lytton is a small town, adjacent to a First Nations reserve and both burned. I guess my feelings have been since the start of this heat wave that we should be making sure that the people on the reserves are OK, rather than looking for unmarked graves at the old residential schools, but I guess that is controversial. Let us above all …look after the living!

Meanwhile (over the past week) Ken and I were trying to keep our little farm watered, to save all of the plants/trees we had. We planted several trees this year trying to provide future shade and all of them seem to be shrivelling and dying. The garden we have been watering twice a day. The ground ROCK hard, hard to know how we will get all of those garlic out of the ground (pick ax). Our water is high in Iron, which seems to be plugging many of our watering lines.

dried out everything

totally dried out potatoes

We have been fortunate to receive several loads of fresh wood chips from a company pruning, trees in the area. Our ultimate goal is to cover our entire garden with at least a foot of wood chips. They hold in the moisture, decreasing the need for watering substantially. With a future of draught and increasing heat, having the ground covered keeps the ground cooler and more moist. We had gotten several rows of the garden covered with the chips before the heat became extremely intense last weekend.

So we have been getting loads of wood chips from these pruning guys, and then we have been taking the chips and distributing them with the tractor. I was telling the guy last week about the time in Oregon when we had some guys running our chipper, and they left the 4 wheeler next to the pile of chips and the tail pipe was touching the chips and I looked out and we had a huge fire, a 30 foot pile of brush was ablaze. Fortunately the fire dept came quickly and coastal oregon is nowheres near as hot and dry as it is here, and so they were able to put the fire out in an hour or so, and we watered the pile overnight.

So back to present time, he backed in with a load of new wood chips and into the remaining chips we had left over from last delivery. He was standing talking to Ken (getting ready to start to dump them) and I had gone to get some fresh garlic to give them for the wood chips and was running towards where they were and I saw the fire start in a matter of a minute where the tail pipe was touching the pile. FROM EXPERIENCE I started yelling, the guy moved the truck and Ken and I got the hoses going and quickly put out the fire. It was quite ironic, because it was SOOO hot that day and after this happened the guy said that he had been telling the crew today about what I had told him last week about the hot tail pipe.

Stories are always so much easier to tell, when they end well though. We have been able to keep the garden watered, but we have to be on it all the time. It is sort of like, I worked so hard to get all this stuff planted for future years, I am not about the lose them now, if only I could keep them watered for just one more day……We are lucky to have a well that has lots of water.

So about July 1st. THIS IS MY STORY OF JULY 1 2021 A few months ago I decided to have a party on July 1st, thinking that perhaps this year there might be fireworks on the lake and we could watch them from our high perch. GOODNESS SAKES WHAT A MISTAKE. I thought at the time that our covid vaccine would be lowering the numbers such that the province might open up on that day, and it would be a good day to visit with friends.

We were warned of an impending heat wave about a week before it happened. Although it DID look like the improved covid situation was leading to an opening up of the province, the friends whom I had invited were not relishing the idea of camping in RVs at very very hot temperatures.

We hunkered down indoors for the most part for several days with the extreme high temps, even put on the air conditioning, (which I never thought we would use.) It just seemed so unfair, to have finally gotten to a stage with Covid, after a year and a half… where things were opening up, and NOW THIS! It was right down to the actual day that the restrictions were lifted that the weather became unbearable.

June 30th came and I was chatting online with my sisters, worrying about all of them (scattered throughout BC), I thought we should connect. I have one sister who is a twitter whiz…. and while we were chatting she reported that Lytton was literally burning down. People were literally running for their lives. So very sad. My contribution to the chat is that I tend to follow radar, and was reporting to them a storm (thunder and lightening type) was sauntering its way up the province and might come close to Quesnel lake, where one of my sisters were at her cabin. (The storm did not really hit her area directly, but the following day one could see on the wildfire maps many new fires that had developed in the wake of that storm) It was quite isolated, just the one system, opening into a big system in the north of the province, and many subsequent fires.

So June 30th was the last day of the extreme heat. On a side note, Ken and I lived in Edmonton the summer of 1987, when we had had several days of extreme heat, each day followed by a thunderstorm, but after the last day, all looked quite normal, and then suddenly the biggest storm I had ever seen hit and turned out to be a massive tornado that hit Edmonton July 31 1987.

I have always had a feeling that strong systems are followed by a strong disruption (my own interpretation of meteorological stuff) So I knew that something was going to happen, something big.

So back to July 1st. The weather was a bit cooler, things started to come together for a bit of a family get together. We had Talon for the day. His parents, Dylan and Sarah were there for dinner (and for the night). Our other son Josh and a friend were there as well.

Josh went outside and said he could hear thunder. So we all went out and sat and watched for the lightening. (it has been too hot to sit on patio for at least a week) Then it started to pour. So we sat out on our patio, under the overhang, the temp dropped gradually from 38 C down to 28 C in the course of an hour and Talon ran around in the rain barefooted. It was so much fun,.. I did not take any pictures. It was the happiest of the happiest evenings, Covid was over, the heat wave was over and it was raining. WOW, what more could I ask for? I had my whole family together, bliss.

Dylan even set us up with a firehose system. He explained that if we ever have to use it to haul the hose out BEFORE we turn the water on, as it is too heavy to haul when there is water in it. GOOD practical information, I guess that is why, in the movies, the firemen have several of them hauling the hose.

So I guess that is about when all hell broke loose. (Kamloops is the largest city near us 90,000, it is where I work and where both of our kids live and also where my sister, and many friends live, about 45 miles away)

Dylan, Sarah and Talon were spending the night, and Sarah and Talon had gone to bed, and Dylan was flipping through facebook messages on his phone. Suddenly he says Juniper has been hit by lightening and a fire has started …. and then Valleyview. (These are very large suburbs of Kamloops, coming our way from Kamloops, first is Juniper a VERY large suburb with only 1 way out of, THEN Valleyview and then Barnhartvale, which is where Dylan and Sarah live and have horses, dogs and cat (Barnhartvale is the closest to us) ). The pictures were being posted all over facebook, and they were frightening. Sarah immediately said that they had to go home because it looked like things were heading towards Barnhartvale. (very concerned with horses etc) The thunder and lightening that hit us with all the rain, was now hitting Kamloops with no rain and way more aggressively.

So everyone left, we were back to chatting with my sisters and reports are that there are at least 7 fires in and around Kamloops, all started by the lightening. Other suburbs… Aberdeen, Railley …..The thought of a city THAT large burning was just so disturbing. Dylan phoned, had not gotten home yet, but from where he was, Kamloops looked like it was glowing, and so asked us to come and help them evacuate. Livestock, horses and cattle etc are a real problem with fires and evacuation, where do you take them?

So we then assessed our vehicles, the electric car we had forgotten to plug in. Our Jeep we had not gotten gas in, thankfully Josh had borrowed it and saw then empty light was on, and put SOME gas in. We pondered which vehicle would be better to take….? GOOD QUESTION?

Our friends in Juniper has essentially 10 minutes to evacuate, and they hit the road before the police came door to door, many people in Juniper took 1.5 hours to get down to the highway. (a distance of about 2 miles)

This was the fire in Juniper which was posted
I believe this was the Juniper fire as well

I must say that the thought of several fires surrounding a city the size of Kamloops was very frightening. We opted for the Jeep and started down the road, waiting to hear from Dylan, wondering whether we should be doing anything. All reports were that the traffic was a nightmare with so many people evacuating different suburbs….. all culminating onto the highway. Josh was driving home and said it took forever to get through the city, in what is normally just a few minutes.

So Dylan got to his house and assessed that they were not in immediate danger and were going to get some stuff prepared, but it looked OK for the time being. We both agreed to phone each other if there was any need for help. We turned around, opting to stay out of a disaster area, and there was still lots of lightening at our place, so still not out of the woods (pun intended)

THEN … all of a sudden…. THE RAINS CAME TO KAMLOOPS, and it poured. …and poured. Not to underestimate the contributions of the fire departments, and they did an absolutely amazing job saving the city…I DO think Mother Nature chipped in BIG TIME. WHO knows WHY she would help us after all we have done to her?

So all of these fires became “under control”, and (at least in Kamloops) things settled down. The evacuation orders were even recinded in the middle of the night. Kamloops was already dealing with evacuees from other surrounding towns are risk.

So that is my story of July 1st, a very noteworthy day in my life. There are more fires around us, after the intense heat wave, so things are still concerning. AND we now have the smoke to deal with.

But, our numbers for Covid are very low now. Sadly BC has had 700 sudden deaths ever the past week, felt to be from the heat wave, and that is about half of the number of people who have died from Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.

Thanks for reading my blog, and much love to all

From Janet, Ken and Tucker.