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Okanagan Circle Tours from Merritt BC

Similkimeen Okanagan Road Tripping – Part Two

One of many tours starting from the Nicola Valley

 

Okanagan Circle Tours – In my last blog I was talking about circle tours from Merritt, BC, in particular from Merritt to Princeton and then onto the Okanagan. The first part of the journey was from Merritt, BC to Princeton, BC, Canada.  While this trip is fun any time of the year the best period would be early to mid August.

On the Road Again – Okanagan Circle Tours From Merritt, BC

When you leave Princeton you want to head out on Highway 3 going east towards Penticton.  This is a gorgeous part of the trip as you follow the beautiful Similkimeen River.  While there are many points of interest along this route I will be only mentioning a few since this is only a two day tour.  

 

Our first point of interest is Hedley, BC, home of the Mascot Gold Mine.   The mine was closed in the mid twentieth century but was turned into a tourist attraction by the Province and the local first nations people.  Unfortunately the tours ended in 2018.  Despite not being able to take tours  anymore it is still impressive to see the structures that were put in place to mine the side of a mountain.

Mascot Gold Mine

Mascot Gold Mine

Stop #2-Circle Tours From Merritt, BC

While there are many choices to stop for lunch, one of my favourites is Bromley Rock Provincial Park.  This is a perfect spot for a picnic.  As well as  a great lunch venue you could also take a dip in the river.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park

Bromley Provincial Park

Keremeos-The Fruit Stand Capital of Canada.

Keremeos is the last stop in the Similkimeen Valley on our Okanagan Circle Tour from Merritt, BC.  Most of the fruit stands in Keremeos  are the traditional type where the stands are selling fruit from their own farms which is not always the case in other areas of the Province. For example, in August you can get the best peaches because they come from the orchards behind the fruit stands.

 

keremeos fruit stand

Keremeos Fruit Stand

While fruit is the main claim to fame for Keremeos, the Cathedral Lake Lodge is a must see.  Unfortunately you won’t have time on this trip but do book mark it for another time.  The alpine hiking is inspiring.  As well there is plenty of time to do simpler things like reading your book in a comfy chair by the lake.

Cathedral Lakes reading spot

Cathedral Lakes reading spot

Penticton is next on our circle tour from Merritt, BC

Hopefully y0u have timed your trip so that you leave Keremeos by 4:30 or 5:00 so that you can make Penticton by early evening.  You will need to book a hotel for one night.  The more expensive ones are on Okanagan lake while more reasonable accommodation can be had near Skaha Lake.  

After you settle in you will want a bite to eat.  While they have all the fast food choices the Hooded Merganser is a spectacular place to eat.  While it is on the pricier side of things its location on the lake cannot be beat.  Otherwise you may want to try a winery on the Naramata Bench.  We’ve actually eaten at the Hillside Winery where we had an experience we will never forget.

Hillside Winery

Hillside Winery

When we arrived it was a beautiful evening.  However, the wind started to pick up and the clouds began rolling in.  At this point many of the diners left the patio to go inside, but not us.  The temperature was dropping and the waiters brought us blankets. The rain began in earnest but we were protected by a roof. We became the only patrons left on the rooftop patio.  As if the wind and rain weren’t enough along came thunder and lightening.  It was truly spectacular.  By the way, the meal was great.

Day 2 starts in Penticton.

You’ll want to be up early because this will be another fun filled day.  There are so many fun things to do from having a lazy beach day, winery tours, shopping and my favourite, tubing the canal.

For wineries the Naramata Bench provides 19 wineries in very close proximity to each other.  For shopping you will want to take in the mom and pop shops on Main Street. As well you will want to visit the funky galleries on Front Street.

Finally I do recommend the tubing.  If you didn’t bring one you can rent one at Coyote Cruises which opens at 11:00 AM.  Allow three hours for the trip and 1/2 bus trip back.

Floating the canal

Floating the canal

Next stop on our circle tour from Merritt, BC is Summerland.

Summerland is split by Highway 97 with the commercial section on the west side of the road and the beach area down the hill on the other side of the street.  One of the main attractions is the steam train.  You have to be careful though because you might get robbed by bandits on horse back!  You need reservations and you may not get on board if you arrive too late from Penticton.

Steam Train

Steam Train

However not all is lost as downtown Summerland has some great unique stores in downtown.

Our Final Stop on our tour- Peachland

You have to plan your arrival in Peachland at dinner time because you will want to have the best dining experience in the whole Okanagan at the Gasthaus on the Lake Restaurant.

Whether you choose to sit on the beautiful patio with its flowers and trees or in the Bavarian style of the restaurant you will be impressed.  The food and service is also great.  As the last thing to do on this trip you will want to take in an Okanagan sunset,  Peachland has a stunning walk way that travels from one end of the village to the other.  Also there are many scenic spots to stop and take in the surroundings.  All in all this is a great way to end your trip as you prepare to head back to Merritt, BC

 

Peachland waterfront

Peachland waterfront

This Tour Ends

While this tour ended it is obvious that Merritt is a great place to use as a base camp for circle tours.  After all there are eight roads leading into and out of Merritt.

Okanagan Circle Tours from Merritt BC

Similkimeen Okanagan-Part Two

 

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Estate Planning in Merritt BC

A Holistic View on Estate & Insurance Planning in Merritt – Kamloops -Logan Lake 

The Second Pillar of Financial Planning

Estate Planning in Merritt, BC – Life is full of unexpected turns and twists. Because of that, we need to have a plan in place. Here we focus on developing comprehensive strategies that protect, preserve and provide for those that we care about. What is in place to protect our income and wealth? On our passing, is there enough liquidity in our estate? Is our will up to date? Is the executor and power of attorney we selected up to the task? If we could no longer work and were not an ideal retirement age, how would our retirement look?

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Great care needs to be taken to ensure the needs are all protected and fulfilled.

A Quick Disclaimer…

Some of the strategies that I will discuss are not to be taken as advice for your unique needs. I strongly suggest that you speak to a qualified professional.  These are complicated issues and not to be taken lightly. Being dually licensed in Mutual Funds and Insurance, I look at the big picture when it comes to making recommendations. 

Some Basic Assumptions to Begin Financial Planning

To begin, every financial plan looks at a couple main points. We start with a desired retirement date and a projected date of passing. For some, this number may be larger than others. Family history and current health are indicators of potential life expectancies. For the most part, I look at tables and project that way. A truth we must face, some of us will live to be 90 and even 100 years old.

A Shocking Canadian Statistic

Protecting Our Income and Our Wealth

Play along with me for a moment. Imagine yourself 45 years old. You are in the prime earning years of your life.  With possibly 20 years to go until retirement, many things are on your mind. Funding our children’s future education goals, paying off that mortgage and investing for retirement most likely top that list. You receive a call, letting you know your spouse was in a serious car accident. They unfortunately will not survive their injuries. I know this may seem grim, however, this is a part of life for some. This event was one of two things, planned or unplanned. Having a policy in place to protect against such an event will make all the difference for that surviving spouse and those children. 

Estate Liquidity Needs

When an individual passes, expenses come up out of no where that need to be covered by someone. Assets like a primary residence or an investment account will not be available right away to help cover some of these expenses. If there is no will in place, your loved ones may have to cover your expenses for months to come before the courts will actually grant someone the ability to simply act as your administrator. With accounts frozen, these expenses will have to be paid out of pocket by someone else. Not exactly the lasting memory we wish to leave behind. However, a simple beneficiary designation in the correct direction or a life policy could change this whole story.

Estate Planning in Merritt and Trust Advisory (Wills/POA)

Your last will and testament is an important thing to have in place. However, just as important is who you name to carry out your last wishes. Is this executor or executrix up to the task? With your passing, could you see them being mentally and physically able to carry out this task? Not exactly something we want to take lightly. Trusts are a complicated topic as well and the situation needs to warrant having something like this in place. Split families and second marriages bring a level of complexity to the estate planning process also. The wording needs to be very accurate to ensure your wishes take place. 

Living Benefits (Disability/Critical Illness/Long Term Care)

What would happen to our family if we were injured before retirement? This can have a massive impact on an individual or a family. What happens when one no longer has the ability to meet our current expenses, possibly even having expenses increase? What if a medical diagnosis or disease left us unable to earn a living for ourselves? There are so many situations that can be planned for. Ensuring we have proper coverage at different parts of our life is vitally important. Would our significant other be able to live comfortably if we needed long term care?

Ensure Your Plan Prepares You For The Unexpected

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Estate Planning in Merritt BC

 

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Gardening in Merritt BC

Butchart Gardens Lookout!

Prepare for the Spring

Gardening in Merritt, BC, Canada can be very rewarding as you take a boring property to the heights of beauty. While the Butchart Gardens, just outside of Victoria, BC may be the gold standard for gardens you can make your property a thing to behold as well.  All it takes is some planning and you can be on your way.

Planning is Essential

I have to admit I have no formal training in gardening but as a homeowner for nearly fifty years I have learned a few things.  Besides, my wife has a gift for remembering plants, what they look like, when they bloom and how big they get,  all important aspects of planning a garden.

The best place to start is with a plan of your yard.  On a large sheet of graph paper lay out the dimensions of your yard and place the outline of your house on the sheet.  You then have to determine where you want your gardens beds to be.  I personally prefer garden beds that have some shape to them rather than just a rectangle.

 You also have to figure out where your hardscapes will go.  Is your lot sloped?  Do you need retaining walls or terraces?  What kind of walkways will you need to connect various spaces?  Place all these ideas on your plan.

Examples of Terraced Gardens

Terrace garden with logs

Terrace Garden-Tom Reynolds Photo

Terrace Concrete bloc

Terrace-Concrete Block Tom Reynolds Photo

Rock Wall

Rock Wall-Tom Reynolds Photo

Examples of Pathways

The following path connects the driveway to the front door.  You will notice that it is curved to add interest.

Pathway

Curved Path-Tom Reynolds Photo

When Gardening in Merritt BC What Plants Can You Use?

The first thing that you need to know is what gardening zone is appropriate for Merritt. According to the BC Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Merritt is in Zone 5b.  This means that plants that are rated for this zone will be more successful than zones that are different.  You also need to know their drought tolerance as Merritt is considered semi arid.

Once you determined what plants will be suitable for your garden you need to make other considerations.  If you are renovating your current landscape you will probably have a good supply of plants already.  For example, you may already have trees that are well established and therefore you want to work with their current locations unless the tree is not healthy.  Trees provide shade and are a dramatic feature.  

Flowering Tree

Flowering Tree-Tom Reynolds Photo

Flowering shrubs are also great additions to any garden.  I particularly like a mock orange blossom shrub.  This is one of those cross over plants that could also be considered a tree. It grows quite large and provides a great privacy barrier and wind break.

Mock Orange

Mock Orange=Tom Reynolds Photo

Colour should be Your Goal when Gardening in Merritt BC

Perrenials Garden

Perennial Garden-Tom Reynolds photo

Perennial plants should be a part of everyone’s garden.  They are called perennials because they self propagate in place so you don’t have to renew them every year.  The downside is that they generally bloom for a short period during the growing season.  The good thing is that not all perennials bloom at the same time so with a littlie planning you can keep colour in your garden by selecting plants that bloom at different times.

Annuals have to be replaced every year but they have the advantage of  blooming all season long.  I think placing them between the perennials  provides constant colour.

Annuals

Annuals-Tom Reynolds photo

Colour can also be created by using different types of shrubs and perennials.  Some shrubs, like barberry come in many different colours.

Barberry Shrub

Barberry Shrub-Tom Reynolds Photo

“Colour in my garden is so up lifting”-Shirley Reynolds

Hostas are also a plant that comes in many different colourings.

Hostas

Hostas – Tom Reynolds Photo

Gardening in Merritt, BC doesn’t have to be all plants 

Plants aren’t the only things that you can use to make your garden interesting.  My wife likes things such as old chairs or head boards, while I  like things more on the tacky side such as garden gnomes and whirly-gigs’

Chair

Chair-Tom Reynolds photo

Rock Wall

Roc Wall-Tom Reynolds Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Gardening Never Ends

If you take in these tips you can start your journey to a beautiful yard and a great hobby.  Have fun!

Gardening in Merritt BC

Plants for the Soul

 

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Managing Cash Flow Merritt – The First Pillar of Financial Planning

“If we arrange our retirement income correctly we can lower the tax we pay over our retirement and, eventually, lower the amount of taxes due at our passing on.”

Managing Cash Flow in Merritt, BC – Last edition we looked from a high level overview at the 6 pillars of financial planning. This edition will focus a little more in depth into the financial pillar of managing cash flow. 

managing cash flow merritt

Budgets are just guides. We are in control of how they flow.

 

Managing Cash Flow Begins With A Cash Flow Analysis

Managing cash flow in Merritt, or anywhere else, varies over our pre-retirement and retirement years. No matter the season of life, the process remains the same.

First, we need to determine all the sources of income that we have entering our picture. Then we need to determine our current and future expenses. This can be tricky as future expenses will increase due to inflation and the loss of purchasing power takes place on our retirement nest egg.

 

managing cash flow merritt logan lake

To coffee, or not to coffee…that is the question…

 

Managing Our Income In Our Pre-retirement Years

In our pre-retirement years, income will come in different ways. We will earn employment income, rental income or income from being self-employed. If incorporated the income may come through dividends. We could even receive capital gains from our investments. These are all taxed differently and the goal is to bring them “into our picture” in the most tax efficient manner. For the most part, if planned properly, we are in control of how we receive these and even when.

 

How We Determine Our Retirement Paycheque

In retirement we could still receive any of the incomes listed above. There are a few additional benefits that become available in our sixties. Firstly, between the ages of 60 and 70 we can begin receiving CPP or Canada Pension Plan benefits. If you receive the benefit before age 65, you will receive a penalty of 0.6% per month that it is taken early. Alternatively, each month after 65 that you delay receiving CPP you are paid a 0.7% bonus for life.

Secondly, between age 65 and age 70 we can begin receiving OAS or Old Age Security. Thirdly, the year we turn 71, it is mandatory that by December 31st of that year any RRSP’s, or Registered Retirement Saving Plan’s, are converted into RRIF’s, or Registered Retirement Income Funds. The government determines the mandatory minimum amount that must be withdrawn on an annual basis. Confusing? You bet it is! Fourthly, there is even a GIS, or Guaranteed Income Supplement, available in the mid to late sixties to those who can qualify for it. 

moneyadvicemerrittbc

Always just a phone call away.

 

“Why Would I Wait To Receive Government Benefits?”

A common question I am asked. It is uniquely situational. Each individual or couple has different things that are available at different times in their life. Some are struggling  to make ends meet when they reach 60 years old and just take the CPP benefit early. Others may be receiving payouts upon their retirement and delaying additional income a year may be beneficial. Most answers are based on tax strategies when it comes to planning in this area. There is no cut and dry best time to take it for everyone. It must be something that is analyzed and planned for. 

Some Things To Have In Place Before Retirement

Most of us will be at the height of our earning years before retirement. If planned for, we could see ourselves entering retirement mortgage free. There is no better time to have a line of credit or credit solution in place “just in case” we may need it in retirement. Credit solutions always look at what you own and what you earn. However, if you wait until you are already retired it will reduce the credit you have available. 

Tax-efficiency Is Key In Retirement Income Planning

There are many strategies for income planning in retirement. Again, all are uniquely situational. Similar to questions raised above like, “When do I start collecting CPP or OAS?” These are big picture questions.  It is all tied in together. Taxes are the single largest expense of our lifetime. If we arrange our retirement income correctly we can lower the tax we pay over our retirement and, eventually, lower the amount of taxes due at our passing on.

These Decisions Have Lasting Effects,

Seek Professional Help To Get It Right!

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Managing Cash Flow – Nicola Valley

 

Financial Planning Near Merritt, BC

Managing your cash flow Merritt

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Nicola Valley Financial Planning in and around Merritt British Columbia, Canada

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Retirement Planning in Merritt, BC

Retirement planning through financial planning fundamentals

“While portfolio performance is important, it’s only one component of your overall financial well-being”

Retirement Planning in Merritt, BC – Retirement is that one point in our lives that we are all working towards. There are no two retirements that are the same. We will all have our own unique journey while living in the Merritt, Ashcroft, Kamloops and Logan Lake area. However, there is more to it than just putting money away for our working lifetime. The years right before our retirement are the most crucial to have “all the ducks in a row”.

There is more to our retirement planning in Merritt than investment performance

Many investment advisors will only focus on how your portfolio is projected to perform with your retirement planning. While portfolio performance is important, it’s only one component of your overall financial well-being. A comprehensive financial plan planning focuses on meeting your needs over both the short and long term. We need to create certainty in all areas of your financial future.

Confidence in our retirement planning through the Six Pillars of Financial Planning

You may ask, “one component?” Yes, retiring can be stressful and is more complicated than you think. Any solid retirement plan should be looking at up to six different components. I like to call these the “six pillars of financial planning.” Each pillar is based on a foundation of tax efficiency.

Pillar # 1 – Managing cash flow

We start off by examining the cash and credit requirements needed while working towards our goals. This is achieved through cash flow analysis, secured lending, residential lending and tax-efficient income planning. We need to ensure we are paying ourselves more each year. Why? Inflation eats at the purchasing power of each dollar every year. 

Pillar # 2 – Preparing for the unexpected

Here we focus on developing comprehensive strategies that protect, preserve and provide for those that we care about. However, should something happen to us, we need to have a plan in place. Here we examine a few areas. What is in place to protect our income and wealth? On our passing, is there enough liquidity in our estate? Is our will up to date? Is the executor and power of attorney we selected up to the task? What would happen to our family if we were injured before retirement? What if a critical illness left us unable to earn a living for ourselves? Would our significant other be able to live comfortably if we needed long term care?

Pillar # 3 – Planning for major expenditures

This is a crucial step where we ensure we have a plan in place for making our goals a reality. This is where we look at credit/liquidity solutions, education planning, investment property structuring and even recreation property planning. What are your hobbies now? Car racing? Fishing? Or do you prefer the art or music scene? Most likely, what you do now for enjoyment you will do more of in retirement. 

Pillar # 4 – Optimizing your retirement

You have just finished working thirty, forty and maybe even fifty years. As a result, you’ve built up a nice “nest egg” for yourselves. Here we focus on managing retirement risks and preserving your capital. We also need to create enough income to support your retirement needs and goals. The focus is on portfolio construction and oversight, total return strategies, guaranteed income solutions and withdrawal strategies. 

Pillar # 5 – Sharing your wealth

Now is the time to create or review your existing estate plan. How would you like your legacy to live on? Here we choose the people and the causes that are important to you. After a lifetime of living and giving, certain charities and organizations become near and dear to us. This is our opportunity to give back through charitable giving. We also spend some time on the financial literacy of our beneficiaries. The goal is to ensure what you have worked so hard for is received and used in the wisest manner possible.

Pillar # 6 – Maximizing your business success 

Finally we have come to pillar number six. However, it does not apply to all. There are many business owners and entrepreneurs in Canada. The planning needed here involves another layer of complexity. I like to implement strategies that synchronize and enhance your personal and business financial plan. We look at personal and corporate tax integration and optimizing corporate investments. We also look at pre-liquidity planning and ultimately business succession. 

Don’t think or hope you’re doing things right, know it!

Retirement planning is a complicated process, I’m here to help!

 

 

Financial Planning in Merritt, BC

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Merritt, Ashcroft, Kamloops and Logan Lake BC in the Nicola Valley

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Hiking Merritt, BC

Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park

A Walk in the Park

 

I have talked about hiking near Merritt, BC before but focused on the trail network within the City of Merritt. Therefore this time I want to take you further afield to Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park.  Our park destination is a mere 20 to 30 minute drive from downtown depending on traffic. (Just kidding, there is no traffic in Merritt).  Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park is located off highway 5A just passed Aspen Grove.

Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park

Colours of Kentucky Lake-Tom Reynolds Photo

Kentucky Lake-Hiking Trail near Merritt, BC  

I have chosen this trail because it is relatively easy.  However, those who are looking for a greater challenge you can check out a book by local author, Murphy Shewchuk,  Coquihalla Trips and Trails.

For this 4 kilometre hike near Merritt, BC you can choose which way you wish to hike around Kentucky Lake.   You can take the trail from the parking lot which will take you clockwise around the lake.

South East Trail Head

Trail Head for Clockwise Travel-Tom Reynolds Photo

However if you wish to go the other way – counter clockwise – you have to walk into the campground and head over to the boat launch where there is another trail head.

 

Trail Head South West

Trail Head South West-Tom Reynolds Photo

This hiking Trail near Merritt, BC is for the whole family

The hike is generally considered fairly easy as it follows along the lake shore and there are not many hills.  However, the recent windstorms this Spring knocked down a lot of trees that are covering the trail.  We noticed that the Parks crew have been working hard and have removed most of the fallen trees from the trail.  Having said that, there are still one or two that require circumventing.  As long as you have decent foot wear you should be OK.

 

Tree Across Trail

Tree Across Trail-Tom Reynolds Photo

sky through forest

Sky through Forest-Tom Reynolds Photo

 

In some sections of the trail there is a rainforest like feel as the trees are much larger than in other areas of the trail. Take the opportunity to do some sky gazing and look up during your hike and take notice of just how tall some of the tress are.   

Walking in Forest

Walking in Forest-Tom Reynolds Photo

This is a great example of how easy the trail is.  While coats and hats were needed on this day because it was cool.  Normally summer temperatures are more conducive to shorts and T-shirts

End of Trail

This is the end of the trail-Tom Reynolds Photo

This is the trail that takes you back to the parking lot.  In other words, this is the end of the hike

What to look out for when hiking near Merritt, BC

When you are walking the trail around Kentucky Lake you will not find flowers as prolific as those in the alpine meadows but there is still beauty in what you will see such as mushrooms, saskatoon bushes, Arnica and Indian Pint Brush to name a few.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms Tom Reynolds Photo

Saskatoon Bush

Saskatoon Bush-Tom Reynolds

Arnica

Arnica-Tom Reynolds Photo

Indian Paint Brush

Indian Paint Brush-Tom Reynolds P

Besides hiking near Merritt, BC you can do these things

One of the favourite things to do is fish.

fishing at the lake

Fishing at the lake–Tom Reynolds photo

 

These people are enjoying fishing from an outcrop.  The colour of the lake is spectacular. The kids have their own lake for fishing.  This little lake is close to the campground.

 

Kids Fishing hole

Kids fishing hole-Tom Reynolds Photo

Camper Van

Camper Van-Tom Reynolds Photo

 

This camper van is situated close to the lake trail. Most of the sites are typical provincial sites with lots of room and trees.

 

Kids Playing

Kids Playing–Tom Reynolds Photo

 

Not all the fun is on the lake.  As you can see these kids are having a great time going through the culvert.  This is not a great activity for spring time.  Guess why?

Hiking near Merritt is unlimited.  I will be providing more hikes in the near future.  Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park is the home of this hike. You can check out the website and see that the park offers other activities besides hiking.  For example, you can swim , fish, canoe, kayak or check out the natural environment.  Whatever you choose you are sure to have fun day.

Hiking Near Merritt, BC

Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park

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Merritt BC Summer Activities in the Nicola Valley

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Financial Planning In Logan Lake British Columbia

Holistic Financial Plans uniquely designed for each individual family 

“I am a firm believer in saying “yes” to something and figuring it out afterwards. I am now performing webinars that can be viewed online because being elderly or having poor health shouldn’t stop people from learning.” 

Financial Planning in Logan Lake – I generally spent 2-3 days per week working from home and creating financial plans for families and businesses here in Logan Lake, BC.  The other 2-3 days per week I spent meeting with people face to face, updating or creating plans with families and businesses in the surrounding areas. An average week I would find myself in Kamloops, Merritt, Cache Creek or Ashcroft meeting with people who desire advice and guidance on how to grow, preserve or protect their net worth. 

Financial Planning in Logan Lake - we come to you

Warm weather is here! Time to stretch the legs!

Social Distancing for Financial Safety

However, social or physical distancing is the “new norm” for the moment. Meeting face to face with families and business owners right now to perform financial planning is difficult in some situations, but not for all. Going from home to home in Logan Lake, BC at this time is challenging. With some of my clients being elderly and/or immune compromised, I’ve been focusing more on phone calls and video meetings. I’m not worried too much about my own health, I don’t believe I would be at risk of it affecting me that greatly. I find myself more worried about unintentionally spreading a sickness to someone else. I’ve been taking precautions to ensure I stay distanced from my clients, whether they are new or existing clients. I use my pen, you use yours. Interestingly enough, pens aren’t used a whole lot these days. They might be making a come back. 

Change Came Quickly to Ensure Safety for All 

I quickly learned I needed to adapt to this ever changing landscape. Soon, I found myself in the middle of March. However, due to COVID 19, I stopped meeting face to face in the beginning of March as things began to change. Before COVID19 I had never hosted a meeting on Zoom before. I had attended multiple meetings but that was it. My wife, Jennifer and I have a busy home with 7 children ruling the roost. Creating financial plans in an office at my parents house in Logan Lake, BC was a normal thing to do.  However, my 89 year old grandfather lives with them as well. Because I could not risk somehow transmitting COVID19 to him, I had to make a change to my own process. 

financial planning logan lake

Home office in a hurry, I sometimes have little visitors.

Financial Planning from Home in a Hurry

Rumors and discussions with my co workers in Kamloops, BC were leading to the temporary closing of our office. With this out of the picture I had to improvise. I did some quick measurements of our bedroom and re-arranged our furniture to make my new home office. I purchased a desk from Staples and comfortable chair from Jysk in Kamloops, BC. Now I could continue working from home performing financial planning in Logan Lake, BC. 

Digital Meetings for the First Time

Knowing I had to figure this out, and quickly, I performed a Zoom meeting with my parents just to test it out. We needed to connect anyways to review their financial plan and ensure that their retirement was still solid. Because this market volatility that was happening throughout the global economy, we needed to confirm the planning was still on target. Learning how to create and schedule a Zoom meeting, inviting people to that meeting and running a meeting was a neat learning experience. Over the past few weeks, I’ve held multiple meetings now with my clients and with some new clients also through utilizing this valuable communication tool. 

Seminars On Hold, Moving On To Webinars

With restrictions on how many people can now come together, I cancelled all the seminars I had planned. However, I still wished to explain the benefits of financial planning to my community and far beyond. Over the past few months I had worked with Community Futures – Nicola Valley and the Logan Lake WHY (Wellness – Health – Youth). With my new found wisdom, I jumped immediately into Zoom webinars. I am a firm believer in saying “yes” to something and figuring it out afterwards. I am now performing webinars that can be viewed online because being elderly or having poor health shouldn’t stop people from learning. Those that are willing to learn more about financial planning can do so from the comfort of their own home. 

financial planning nicola valley

A walk in the woods, and some fresh air between meetings.

Financial Planning in Logan Lake, or British Columbia, Has Not Changed

What I do for families and businesses, as well as, financial planning in Logan Lake, Merritt, Kamloops, Cache Creek, Ashcroft, has not changed. The process remains the same. No adventure begins by only entering the starting point into our GPS. First, it’s important to get an accurate picture of where we are now. Second, it is important to know exactly what your life and business goals are. In conclusion, we must ask yourselves, “is something as important as our financial well being worth taking a wrong turn?”

Comprehensive Financial Planning in Logan Lake British Columbia

“A Goal Based Approach to Financial Life”

Merritt, British Columbia, Canada


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Hair Cut During COVID-19

Hair Styling in Merritt BC Canada

What you need for a good hair cut in the Nicola Valley during COVID19

Hair styling during Covid-19 has been none existent in Merritt BC Canada.  Normally I can go to my stylist every six weeks.  I have been self isolating for twelve weeks so my locks have gotten a little too long for my liking.

Tom's Long Hair

The sides are just about over the ears

Tomscovid19hair

Hair styling during Covid-19

Merritt Hair Salon during Covid-19 is self administered

Hair dresser

Kari, she’s the best

I have a great hair stylist who always makes me feel good about my hair when I leave her shop.  I have been going to her for many years now and she has never let me down.  While I like my hair short (I’m lazy), my wife likes it longer.  Kari did a great job in satisfying us both.

She works for a beauty parlor in downtown Merritt called Kruse ‘N Style.  The owner has a unique set up as she not only provides the necessary beauty treatments she also sells clothes.  My co-worker used to tell me she was going to get her $150 hair cut.  I asked why they charged so much, she said the hair cut was an OK price but she couldn’t pass up on the clothing!

A reluctant volunteer?                                                                             

When my wife and I got married back in 1972 we were as poor as church mice, so we did many things to cut down on expenses.  We bought cheaper cuts of beef, upped our chicken and pork quantities and ate a lot of pasta.  At one time we switched to eggs to get our protein but alas, you can eat only so many omelettes and souffles.

experience merritt

 

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So in an effort to save money we decided my wife would cut my hair.  My wife is talented in many ways and I’m sure if YouTube existed back then I would of ended up with a great cut.  But unfortunately there was no YouTube and my hair style ended up being a little bit off.

Based on that experience I have been gun shy about having anyone work on my hair except a proper stylist.  However, as my hair got longer my wife again tried to get me to let her cut it.  Well that wasn’t going to happen.  However, my son decided he new what was best for dear old Dad and sat me on a chair out on the back lawn. (I guess we can’t afford a broom to sweep up the hair if we were inside.)

Merritt Hair Salon opens for business in my backyard during Covid-19

My son has this very fancy clipper that comes with various heads which allows him to control the length of the cut. 

For the short sides he chose a specific head and voila my sides are cut to a very short  even length.  Now he has to tackle the top which apparently has to be longer than the sides.  After a few minutes and adding some hair goop he declares that he is finished.  Here is the result.

 

Not happy

The finished product

Bring in the back up Hair Stylist

Merritt hair salon open for business

The “professional” arrives

As you probably guessed this is not the look I was going for.  We had to bring in some assistance, armed with her YouTube video my wife joins the fray.  Look at the way she is handling the scissors.  Looks really good.

Just Kidding

The job is finished and it doesn’t look anything like the electric socket style above.  In fact I can now say I have a modern up to date style.  I applaud my son and my wife for the great hair styling during Covid-19 but  must say that Kari will not be out of work.

just finished - merritt hair salon

Hair Styling During Covid-19-Finished Product

My Merritt Hair Salon during COVID-19

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COVID 19 in Merritt BC

The Nicola Valley hunkers down in self isolation creating some quality time for self reflection and some random musings.

Merritt British Columbia, Canada and the COVID 19 pandemic has created a new normal.

COVID 19 in Merritt BC – Never before, could we have imagined that the community of Merritt BC Canada, the country of Canada and the tourism industry would be brought to a stand still. Life as we knew it changed in just under 2 months ago. Consequently, I will be the first to admit we were caught off guard. Did not see this storm coming. 

The Realities of COVID 19 in Merritt BC

Not long ago tourists were planning summer vacations, public music events, road trips and adventures to  the Nicola Valley. Today, we are cancelling vacations, taking up long lost hobbies, learning new technology, self educating, working from home, as well as, maintaining social distancing when we go out into our communities. It is a brand new world. 

“This is not an equal opportunity pandemic. … Marginalized communities will be disproportionately impacted.” — Katherine Scot, a senior economist with Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

social distancing in merriitt

Social distancing in the Nicola Valley

Stars of Self Isolation

The crisis named COVID 19 has shown many of us here and around the world who the real heroes are in our country. Our musicians, actors, sports stars are no different than us during this COVID 19 era. They too are in self isolating. They too are in lock down. 

The Real Hero’s in Our Communities

Look who has emerged as our community heroes. The grocery store employee, the guy pumping your gas, the delivery person who brings you your pizza, the truck driver who stocks our stores, the person who picks up our garbage,  our health care workers and others. A big “Virtual Group Hug” goes out to all who are keeping the lights on in our communities.  They are the foot soldiers fighting this battle on the front lines. 

front line workers in merritt

Support our front line health care workers.

Merritt BC is Not Immune

In Merritt BC it may look like COVID 19 is non existent. Just because we are not seeing and hearing the numbers of COVID 19 cases in the Nicola Valley or in the Thompson-Okanagan region, does not mean it is not here. Consequently, lets remind ourselves  that all it takes is one carrier of the virus to take down a community. Why take a chance and roll the dice with the Devil himself? 

Grow Some Manners

Fortunately and unfortunately I have seen the true colors in some people come out during COVID 19. Mostly it is all good, some not so good. The good is most of us our respecting each others space as we self isolate. Sad, is that not everyone is being kind. How people can be so rude and disrespectful boggles my mine. For example, while getting groceries I witnessed a man swear at a Senior in a grocery store because she said he was too close to her. Valid right, not to mention it is her life that is at risk. How would anyone take offence to that comment? I was disgusted in the man. The lack of respect was unacceptable. I spoke up and then was told to %^$# as well. The senior smiled and said thank you. 

 

Be thankful Merritt. We are Lucky

Regardless of your opinion, real or not, that is beside the point.  The point is we are one of the lucky ones… so far. That is something to be grateful for as that means our friends and family are in a safer situation than in other areas of the country and world. Recently I am reminded how lucky we really are to have dedicated nurses and doctors in Canada. I have heard and seen the honking, and beeping cars, trucks, ambulances and police as they drive by saluting the Nicola Valley Hospital.  It is a beautiful thing. 

Be Kind During Self Isolation 

Social distancing to me is an opportunity to show my respect and love for our seniors and elders, my friends and family and to all the people in my community and Canada.  I have a renewed admiration for those that keep positive in this very challenging time. I get it. It is hard.  I am practicing self isolation too because I do not want to be part of the problem. By the same token I want to be part of the solution. So, I do my best and phone my friends and loved ones regularly because I care and do not want them to to be engulfed in a dark world surrounded by loneliness.

Who are your Self Isolation Heroes?

I believe we need to look and start acknowledging the Nicola Valley self isolating heroes more. Why not push out some positive messages of active people in the community who are holding back their social urges because it is the right thing to do. Examples of good people doing such a thing are people like Tom and Shirley Reynolds right here in Merritt BC.

“It’s a time to look forward, not behind. I think it’s timely to think ahead. Yes we’re faced with another global health challenge, but every day will be a little better than the day before. We’re looking forward.” — Darrell Fox, Terry Fox’s brother, on the 40th anniversary of the start of the Marathon of Hope.

nicola valley bloggers

Tom and Shirley Reynolds practicing self isolation

This is a Test on Humanity

The only way I see us coming out of this is to continue to practice self isolation, social distancing and being kind to each people. When this is all said and done, many must ask themselves, “Was I a good person during COVID 19?” and “Did I help the problem or did I contribute to it?” In conclusion, it is times like these when one’s morals, ethics and integrity are measured. How do you measure up on the humanity scale?

Nicola Valley Self Isolation Lessons

COVID 19 in Merritt BC

 

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Mason Bees in Merritt BC

Bees in Merritt BC are some of the best friends your garden can ever have.

Mason Bees in Merritt BC – These solitary, non-aggressive little bees are not only great pollinators but also just one nest of them is more than enough for the average back yard in Merritt BC Canada.  And when I say they are non-aggressive, I mean it! I have never heard of anyone ever being stung by one. In addition, Mason Bees in Merritt BC are abundant. To attract and also to keep these nature friends in your garden, you need to know a few things.

Life Cycle Of Mason Bees in Merritt BC

Mason Bees in Merritt BC emerge from cocoons when the daytime temperatures reach 14 degrees C(57 F). They mate shortly after emerging. Then, immediately after mating, the female starts foraging for pollen to provide her nest. She goes into a tube about 15 cm  (6″) long, creates a pollen lump, lays an egg on it and then seals it with mud, plant material or a mixture of both. Each egg hatches out into a grub or larva and feeds on the pollen lump until it is fully grown. Then it rests before spinning itself a cocoon. Inside the cocoon, it first changes into a pupa, then into a bee.
By the end of summer, the cocoons contain adult bees. Both male and female bees remain in their cocoons until spring when the cycle starts all over again.

mason bees in merritt bc

Mason bee hard at work pollinating

Mason Bee Nest Requirements 

If you want to encourage Mason Bees in Merritt BC, build them a nest and meet their few requirements. They like their nests about 5 ft. from the ground and facing east. Preferred nesting spots are in dry tubes about 6″ long and 5/16″ deep, with only one entrance. Wood, masonry or even paper will do. It must be protected from wind, rain and extremes of cold and heat. Also, early flowering plants are also essential for bees in Merritt BC since the female must provide pollen lumps for her eggs. In addition to these few things, your Mason Bees will also need mud to seal in their eggs and protect them.

Early flowering plants for your Mason Bees

I checked with Vicki Hansen at Petals & Plants Flower Shop at 2052 B Quilchena Avenue for some suggestions for early plants in our area. She suggested the following: bleeding hearts, bachelor buttons, snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and, of course, lilacs. If you need more information, contact Vicki on Facebook, Instagram or phone her at: 250-378-5575. 

merritt mason bee pollinating

Spring is here and Mason Bees are hard at work

Constructing your own Mason Bee Nests

The easiest way to do this is to purchase paper straws, crimp the ends and tape them together so the open ends are uneven. Next, wrap the taped straws with cardboard glued together, then wrap in insulation to protect them from heat and cold. Paint the bee house in bright colours. Bees see colour and this helps them to find their nest. While you’re at it, why not paint the ends of the straws too.

Securing your Mason Bee nest

Paint the inside of a large, plastic bucket a dark colour. Insert the straw bundle in the bee house and put the whole thing into the plastic bucket turned on its side. Drill holes on the under side to let out water if rain gets in. Mason Bees in Merritt BC have many predators, so remember to cover the open end of the bucket with chicken wire. Also, keep the wire at least 3″ away from the nest entrance to keep pests out.

nesting mason bees in merritt bc

Example of a home-made Mason Bee nest

Harvesting Mason Bee cocoons in Merritt

Sometime between October and December it will be time to harvest your cocoons. If you use paper straws for your nests, harvesting is easy. Make a small cut in one end of the straw and unravel it carefully over a paper covered surface. Place cocoons in a container.

Merritt Mason Bee Nest and cocoon cleaning

Clean nests and replace straws as previously described. Between late September and December bees will not emerge from cocoons at room temperature, so clean the cocoons then. Mason bees in Merritt BC have a lot of wasps that parasite  them. Because of this, a thorough cleaning is necessary.

mason bee hotel

Mason Bee hotel and accommodations

How to clean Mason Bee cocoons

Place cocoons in an ice cream bucket. Add 8 cups tepid water. Wet cocoons by gently rolling and moving them for 5-15 minutes. Remove and place in a large strainer. Rinse again adding 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon of water. Rinse well under gently running water. Remember, you have delicate, live bees in there.

After at least two washings, check for mites by placing the cocoons on a white paper towel, cover them with a wet paper towel and leave them to drain.

Mite check for your Merritt Mason Bees

After an hour, remove the paper towels and check the cocoons. You are looking for small orange spots. These are mites. If there are 5 or fewer per square inch, your cocoons are OK. If there are more than this then wash your cocoons again until there are fewer than 5 orange dots per square inch.

Which cocoons have  Mason Bees in them?

Cocoons with bees are dark grey and firm to the touch. “Parasitized” cocoons are lighter colored and feel crispy or look empty. Keep suspect cocoons in a clear container. In spring if wasps emerge, freeze and destroy. If bees emerge, cool them for 30 minutes in the fridge and release them outside.

Now you have Mason Bees in Merritt BC . Store the dry, clean cocoons in a cardboard box cushioned with toilet tissue. Keep the box in a metal, lidded container so pests can’t eat the cocoons. Punch some holes for air.

Releasing your Bees

In February, keep the box in the fridge over a damp paper towel until flowers bloom and the bees have food. A temperature between 2-4 degrees c. is ideal but colder could kill them; warmer could cause them to emerge too early and starve.

Emergence of Mason Bees in Merritt

Cut a small hole in the box for the bees to emerge. Then, place under the cleaned nesting box protected from rain, wind and of course, birds. However, remember to provide mud for your Mason Bees.  Also, remember to keep it moist so the bees can scoop it up as needed.

Smile every time you see one of your bees foraging in the garden!

Need more information?

Check out our local Merritt Public Library
address: 1691 Garcia
phone: 250-378-4737
website: tnrl.ca

Your senior blogger
Diane

Mason Bees in Merritt, B.C.

Creating a home for your Merritt Mason Bees


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