Baillie House

Things were pretty busy last Saturday at the Baillie House!
Great weather to showcase local groups and artists made for a nice day...with granola bars and iced tea for a light lunch. :)
Baillie House is a historic building in Merritt- home to one of the earliest pioneers and now a tourism/info center with a gorgeous perennial garden out front and a small herb and vegetable garden in back.
It is a venue for many spring and summer celebrations and hosts yard sales throughout the year- I have got some amazing bargains there!
There were bird houses and plants for sale- many little cacti potted up in old children's shoes.

The Lilac Conspiracy had a display in tones of purple that showcased the more bohemian aspects of life in Merritt using the lilac as it's theme.

Lilac is a shrub (almost a tree actually) that does phenomenally well in Merritt. It seems to thrive in the heat and the windy nature of Merritt carries the perfume of flowers throughout town. It comes in several shades: deep purple, pale purple, white and there are also pink/burgundy colours. I registered mine :)

Some of the local vendors had preserves on display:

native plants from tribal growers

and lavender for sale (another heavily scented plant)

There were bees and honey as well (I didn't want to get too close):

as well as local art from Shirley Reynolds and Cindilla Trent:

and lets not forget a bit of Baillie House garden:


Richard Branson at YVR

Another trip to Vancouver behind us with Roland back home in Switzerland. I hope the flight went well- it certainly was a great day to fly out and overall the last 3 weeks had very good weather- in Merritt certainly.

I will write more about his stay with us in my next post but as it's a matter of being timely with news oriented photography I will share the photos I took of Sir Richard Branson on his trip to Vancouver.

Along with Premier Christy Clark and a host of people involved in airline/transportation matters he was there to announce the new non-stop flight route between Vancouver's YVR airport and Heathrow Airport in London, U.K. on his airline Virgin Atlantic.

It was quite a media event that probably started in the morning and ended up at the airport...a matter of good timing as photography 'on the fly' goes! Despite 3 distinct and separated rings of guests, media and onlookers I was able to get some rather nice photos.
(I believe this is in part due to the fact that Canadians are polite people.)

I had heard of Richard Branson of course and knew he was a wealthy businessman involved in all kinds of ventures. Once I did a little research at home it's easy to see why I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that made him so rich and famous. He has evidently amassed a collection of at least 400 quite divergent companies. The name 'Virgin' is associated with several of them...Virgin this-this-and-that in the back of my mind and a recollection of stunts and daredevil antics by a rather wolfish looking man who had obviously already lived a full life!

In any case, I was glad for the opportunity to put myself to the test and brave the wall of media to get my shots and see now that Sir Richard is a pretty good looking fellow with great hair, a nice way of speaking and a very friendly yet proper manner. It must be said that he has a sly grin sometimes and a jaw that sets quite firmly on certain statements I can't quite recall the content of.

This was quite in contrast to the almost chipmunk-like appearance and demeanour of our Premier who was blatantly enjoying the whole event. I did recall some of her address to the crowd acknowledging our ties to the U.K. (referring to Queen Elisabeth) although I think she's far from a being a supporter of titles.

The airline hostesses (?) that acted as models for the whole prop of Virgin Atlantic probably have permanent lines in their faces by now from the permanent smiles they wore...they seriously were so professional and even managed to keep some warmth in their expressions.


Merritt In May

It's flood watch time for Merritt like most other communities.
Sandbags are up on Voght which is good but I often wondered if things might not be improved by dredging some of the silt from the Nicola. It's extremely built up with sediments after it leaves the fields upriver. There are practically islands choked with tall grasses clogging up the waterway- a huge contrast to the area immediately south of the dam where it looks more like the frisky Coldwater River.

Someone suggested that the sandbags be covered over with dirt and landscaped making a permanent (and money saving) barrier...the idea has merit. (ha ha).

Elsewhere, at the extreme opposite end of things, there was a fire south of the Colloquial along the hills of the Coldwater River. It looked like a grass fire that had burned out of control.

And then there's the Ladies Hospital Auxiliary that celebrated 100 years of service to the community. The thrift store generates much of the revenue that was in the past used to purchase machines for Merritt's (then) first-rate general hospital.

Times have changed however and the community is not what it once was was. A second shop owner has posted a message on the wood covering a broken window of his storefront expressing discontent.
This seems to have made some impact as there are now police on bikes patrolling the downtown.


What's up in Merritt this May

There was a cutting horse exhibition at the Rodeo grounds this past Saturday. We watched a few of the cowboys put their horses (and the cows) through their paces. You could really tell how well some of these horse and riders could communicate with each other- one in particular kept his eyes on the calf the whole time and cued his horse either with body language and/or verbal commands...the horse practically danced to stay ahead of the calf.

Meanwhile, at the Civic Center, a scrapbookers group was having a retreat. There were a half dozen or so women who had set up their tables and were basically partaking in a scrapbooking 'crop' which is kind of like a get-together 'retreat'. An immense variety of artistic paraphernalia was at hand, both by the scrappers and the vendors. All of them were busily working on embellishing either pages in their albums or art works that would be added to the scrapbooks.

Saturday and Sunday was also a big weekend for yard sales. I managed to pick up a few things for re-purposing and some just for pleasure. (Rotary tool and an very lovely illustrated fairy tale book). In Merritt it's not uncommon to find mounts and skulls for sale and I saw two rather nice ones and the owner kindly allowed me to take photos.

And finally, today, was a benefit ride for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The photos kind of speak for themselves. :)



Raptors in particular are what I've been seeing a lot of. Ospreys are extremely abundant here in Merritt and there are a fair number of eagles. I can't yet distinguish between a Golden Eagle and an immature bald eagle but there is time for that.
Last summer I briefly caught glimpse of a vulture...I wasn't even sure it was one and the moment was sudden and brief but the blurry picture confirmed a naked pink neck!

There are kestrels and falcons and I have seen them for the most part along the highway. The kestrels are fascinating as they hunt: in a headwind they can practically fly in one place for a full minute before suddenly dropping down like a bomb over some unfortunate field rodent.

Then there was talk of pelicans...another thing I thought was a joke. Too bad on a dull day 2 weeks ago the photo I half-hardheartedly took of what I thought were sleeping swans turned out to be small flock of pelicans. They are nowhere to be seen now- dang!

There are lots of birds I don't know the names of...here's one that was picking along the ground amidst the grass beside a cattle pen:

There are rhythms to the lives of birds that is getting easier to understand the more I see of them...rather like the deer that roam the hillsides and I imagine the bears as well. I don't know what happened to the one bald eagle I saw last week in a tree with his head literally hanging and his white feathers covered in filth. Perhaps he was old...or sick...or had scavenged from a nearby carcass and been attacked by a predator. I was glad to see him fly away after 15 minutes or so...good to know he had the strength to leave.

Now the littlest birds have re-discovered our feeder...I will have to find a guide because there are a lot of different ones from last year- many of which were not common where I grew up.

This little guy is called a Kinglet I believe:

Probably finches:

I believe these are Red/rose or house finches:

Then there are those days where you just can't (or won't) find a bird...but might get lucky by checking out the gardening departments of your local shops!