Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.


January 2016

Tricklebrook, Poggleswood, Mole End…

IMG_2999How pretentious is it to name your house? Oh, very, so let’s up the ante and choose a latin name.

The Handyman hails from England where house naming is a thing. Think Primrose Cottage, Two Hoots, Crumbledown, Nudgens, Wits End, Tweedledum, or Creeping Snail.

We have neighbours with house names like Ironpost Guest House, Apple D’Or and Fox Ben but they are guest houses with a good reason for a name. Also nearby is Rancho Costa Plenty which has been sale for awhile. Maybe the naming isn’t working out so well for them.

We could have chosen another dead language name like Cave Canem (beware of the dog) but that would have dated us our two pals lived to ripe old ages and are now planted in the garden, or Nessum Dorma (none shall sleep) with the idea of discouraging visitors from overstaying.

A week after our gate and name went up a neighbour pulled his car over to chat and said, “You know, I drive by your gate every day on my way to work and think, seize the day, yup, good idea.”

As hokey as it sounds, it’s become a mantra for our house that is often welcoming visitors with wine, zip lining and evenings on the deck.


If we lived in England in say, Bognor Regis where we have wonderful relatives I would want a house here and would call it Disturbia.

A parliament of owls



IMG_2437Soon after moving to the Valley we had the privilege of watching this great horned owl being released on the Kettle Valley Railway near our house. He was cared for by the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls in Oliver (

A year later this fellow took up residence in a tree conveniently next to my office window and spent the day there roosting, blithely ignoring attempts by flocks of song birds to speed him on his way. I don’t think it’s the same owl but he or she is also a great horned.

IMG_3697Owl calls early in the morning and late in the evening are still magical to me.

IMG_3749 Moving from the city to a place with so much wildlife will never become commonplace…not when I glance out my window that evening to see the visitor waking up and getting ready to hunt while inadvertently posing for this photo. He is in a tree in my front yard with the sun setting on the mountains across the lake from us.

IMG_6422Or waking up to find this bold northern pygmy owl defending his prey of another bird in my driveway. I thought he had hit the window and was injured. A set of legs and a part of an undercarriage lay nearby on the ground. I took dozens of photos, changed lenses twice and he still didn’t budge. Once he finally decided I was too close, he flew away and I realized the body parts were all that remained of his quail victim. My owl book says this is a little owl with a big attitude. “It’s bold nature allows people to approach it closely. It catches prey as big as quails and squirrels although it is only 16 to 18 centimetres high.”

Back from the brink

A hummingbirds’ high metabolism means a quick end if deprived of sugary food for even a few hours. Before a door was added to the lower cabin of our tree fort, a hummer found her way in but not out.


Saving this weak female Calliope seemed like childhood efforts to save a litter of baby rabbits with an eyedropper and milk or reviving a floating goldfish with more food. You’ve got to try, right?


IMG_0270A solution of sugar water in a plastic lid administered by dipping the little guy’s beak into it was the best we could come up with. Handyman husband donned gloves to help protect her.

IMG_0274Unresponsive at first, her black tongue started flicking at the solution, her eyes opened and within a minute she flew off to a nearby flowering shrub and recovered fully.

The door went on the tree fort cabin the next day and handyman husband adds bird whisperer to his credentials.

Tree fort


Not a labour of love…

Our tree fort was not a labour of love…no labour involved. It’s our combined childhood fantasies brought to life. Built over the span of five years with visiting family work parties, it continues to evolve with plans for a rear deck, a third cabin, a rustic spiral staircase surrounding the tree and a rope bridge connection to a tower and said tower.

It houses the bravest of children on overnight adventures and overflow guests who relish a bit of glamping.

It’s a spot for a nap and has become a wildlife photography blind.


This mum spent the afternoon persuading her two cubs to climb down the tree next to the fort. She clearly spotted us but we felt “safeish” in the fort with the trap door shut.

The latest addition is a zip line which was decidedly not safeish during beta testing…It’s bungee cord brake is now set properly.



Both cabins have laminate flooring and electricity. The top cabin of the “skyroom” has screened windows, a futon, some funky antiques and a trunk filled with toys. The bottom cabin is set up more for adults with a queen-size murphy bed and boasts recycled glass windows.

It’s a mystery why anyone with a nice comfortable house would be delighted with a smaller, rustic space. The view from the upper deck, the breezes blowing through and the birds are only part of the story. The kids all think it’s cool. Of course. It’s more about the awakening of the childhood fantasy in every single grown up who has climbed the ladder and lifted the hatch.





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