Tuesday, August 31, 2010


There was a bird house at our eye level, about twenty feet from the deck where we would have our morning coffee. Mr. and Mrs. Wren were run off their feet all day long trying to keep the four youngsters inside fed. They were a noisy bunch so we suspected that they were soon ready to make their escape. Then one afternoon, on my way down from the orchard, I heard a cacophony of twittering and cheeping. I cocked my ear to the side to try to determine where the birds were. They were very close. I finally determined that they were right at my feet and as I parted the leaves of a very small bush, out scattered 4 baby wrens, some running, some flying, some fluttering. They had indeed left their nest but where were mom and dad? I stalked these birds for the next thirty minutes, waiting for them to give me a good photo opportunity but they seemed to know instinctively where to camouflage themselves. Out of 30 shots, these were the best, but even here you can barely make him out. They kept calling to each other, each one trying to stay within sight of the other, for protection. When they got close to each other, their mouths would gape as if expecting some food to be shoved into the opening. But, these little kids were too young and helpless to feed themselves. I never did see mom or dad and by next morning the peeps and cries were silenced. I hope they made it to a safe place for night and then off to life's adventures, but that stray cat, I hear, is notorious for catching birds. These wrens eat a lot of bugs so I hope they survived.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The New Work Truck

My new Redfire Mazda B2300 is finally complete. The last of the bells and whistles were installed on Friday and the faulty tire pressure sensor was replaced.
The new Leer canopy is a perfect colour match with the same metallic sparkle in the sunlight. It has a pass through window up front, tinted glass all around, large slider windows, a wired brake light, cloth lining inside, and two locking handles on the hatch. 
These Thule locking adjustable roof racks are strong enough to carry my ladders, planks, or my canoe.
I now have a proper hitch but I will still not be able to pull three G's like I did in the Corvette. I am also enjoying power steering, four wheel anti lock disc brakes, traction control, and a decent sound system, all things I did not have in the old truck.
It looks enough like my old Mazda so most people will not notice the change. It is shorter and that is presenting some problems but other than that I am very happy with it.
Well, I do have another beef. Why does CAP-IT, the supplier for Leer, have to put such a honkin' big logo on my truck. I am now a rolling billboard for this company. They should be paying me to do all this cross town advertising for them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Sometimes kids have to be forced into certain activities to help them overcome their apprehensions. This is how it was for Chad. With great reluctance he finally consented to having a ride on the Seadoo, but only with Uncle Andrew. He looks up to, admires, and totally trusts his uncle, otherwise there would be no Seadoo ride this day. He could not bring himself to smile
He understands video games so Andrew told him his first ride would be "level 1", very slow. They managed to get to 30mph, just fast enough to begin planing which makes the ride a bit smoother. With a grimace on his face, he endured.
By the third day, they were doing "level 3" which was close to 50 and about all he would endure, but it was an accomplishment for him. He still would not smile but was proud of the new level he had hit. Probably next year it will be Chad who will be giving everyone else rides.
Liam was a different story. Again, he would only trust Uncle Andrew, but was very willing and quite excited to hop onto the fast "boat". They took a little spin around the bay and he was very good with it. Hanging onto the handle bars was his thrill of the day, even better than steering the "track go". 
"C'mon Chad, what are you afraid of. This is fun!"
"Even I can drive this thing, and with one hand!"

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Before we get to Chad's nautical adventure, here is a brief photo essay on the joys of corn on the cob.
In order to learn how to truly enjoy corn on the cob, one must  watch a two year old very closely. Grasping the salty, buttery cob in both hands, one must not be afraid to get a little dirty.
At this point, all that matters is the corn, not manners or decorum. One can take a hot soapy shower later. Just enjoy the sweet buttery goodness of garden ripened jubilee corn on the cob. The crunch and taste is more important than the bits all over your chin, or the pieces stuck between your teeth. That is what what dental floss was made for.
Do not realease the cob from your lips until your mouth is full and you have bitten  off a few 'rows'.

When you think you have done that cob justice, do not be afraid to ask for another. It is a long time until next year's crop and by then mom will have made sure that I have better manners.
So .....  what are waiting for? Go get yourself some!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vacation 2010 Oroville Wa.

When the sharks attack, grab the dorsal fin and hang on for dear life.
This is the world's worst watermelon on the world's worst table cloth. We choose the biggest, best looking one in the garden and what we got was a total dud. It was punky, tasteless and had a weird colour. It was a genetic mutant and nourished only the compost box.
Every few hours Liam needed to have a sit on the "track-go" (tractor). He loves big machinery. For him a garden tractor is big machinery.
And no day was complete without a swing in the hammock. That went for almost all of us.
Oh dear! He has just discovered the tool box on the "track-go". There is no turning back now. Everything will now get 'fixed'. Hmmm. Where can I hide my camera?
Liam and I went into the orchard one evening to pick an apricot for his mommy. Here he is contemplating, after carrying it for some time, just who should eat it.
Coming soon .... Chad's nemesis.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oroville 2010 Vacation

As promised, more vacation photos. Here Chad is taking a leap of faith. He is not as comfortable in the water as his two other brothers.

Here is the whole family except Chad. Did I mention he is not too comfortable in the water?
Chad watches most of the fun from shore. He has a strong sense of self preservation. He is proof we did not evolve from fish. But wait, he did make leaps and bounds in his water courage as you will see soon.
Liam spent a lot of his holiday throwing stones into the lake. The closer he got, the more accurate he became. He loved every minute of his holiday and enjoyed every aspect of it. What a joy to have him around. I missed him during his nap times.
Liam giving his dad a lesson in rock throwing.
Chad, threatening to jump in. I wasn't buying it.
Liam trying to talk his mom into an early evening swim.
If that big water cannon had been loaded, I would have been a goner.
Nate and Chad watching the action at the other end of the lake. Chad is drumming up the courage to take on the inevitable which he knows is coming. Watch for it.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oroville 2010

We arrived at noon on Sunday and the weather was wonderful. We saw that the apricot trees were loaded and ripe so why not get the job of canning over with at the beginning of the week. Monday morning we picked and canned and then took the rest of the week off.
Busylizzy in the pits.
Nathan showing us how many apricots there were, just on one branch. We have three or four trees of them and we did not even put a dent in the abundant crop.

These little Damsun plumbs were not quite ripe but there is a tree of Italian Prune plums that were just coming into their own. They are so big and juicy you can only eat a few an you are full, especially after eating a half dozen of those tree ripened Apricots. Having four washrooms on the property is a bonus. 

Liam and Nate in front of their Great Grandmother's gorgeous flower bed.
Mother and son paddling on the surf board. Liam had no fear of going out on the water.
We had 30 to 35 degree weather all week with only a bit of smoke in the air on one or two days. It was a bit too warm in the evenings, when it is nice to cool down a bit, but otherwise, a tolerable situation.
More tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Relief From the Heat

I needed a cool and refreshing photo for today's blog post because of the heat we have been experiencing the last few days. When I took this picture, there was a lot of cool mist rising off the river as the water thundered over the rocky escarpment. We could use some of that here now. Quite frankly, I do not understand how some people (quite a few actually) can handle standing under the sun on the hot tarmac at the air show which is taking place this weekend. As I type, I am in my comfortable house where it is 7 degrees cooler inside than out. The birds of war are thundering overhead, expelling hot exhaust and fumes and for what? 
Starting tomorrow, I am taking a blogging break. I will be back in a week or so.   

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Winter Olympics Connection

Our first time in this house was a large wallpaper job, yellow wallpaper with an old world theme. We got to know the single lady who lived here and discovered that she was the 'right hand man' (personal assistant) to the fellow who was the brains and inspiration behind the 2010 Winter Olympics. She worked all hours of the day contacting Olympic representatives from around the world, all in different time zones. She was on a first name basis with all the highest ranking politicians in our province. She was interesting and had an interesting house and we worked for her a few times in the years prior to the Olympics. When her boss passed away on the day that the Olympic Flame began its journey to B.C. we never heard from her again. He had been dying for some time and she told us that she would be taking care of his wife when the time came. We had made plans to do some work in her front entry but she may not even live here anymore.     

Friday, August 13, 2010

Back to Homes I Have Worked In

When a home is buried in the forest, it is not easy to get a good photo. This home is north of Mission and belongs to a single mom who is a real estate agent. She had us back several times to fix up a house that was in disrepair but had plenty of potential. The property is beautiful and after a lot of work, so is the interior of the house. Raising two teenagers is not easy for a single parent but this gal seemed to be doing quite well and by all indications, her business enabled her to have some of the better things in life, that is, things that money can buy. When I meet a single person who is by all appearances a decent human being, I cannot help but wonder what went wrong with the marriage. It sometimes comes up but if it does not, I do not ask.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Here We Go Again

River gorge near Mt. Robson

And now we have a follow-up to yesterday's post regarding the official end of the flu pandemic. How long would they let us rest from fear and panic before there was something else to be afraid of? Well, it appears that we can only have a few days between disease scares. There is now a "Super Bug Gene" that is threatening to spread world wide. Note that it is not a super bug, but a super bug gene. On the surface, this sounds scary but if we read the press release carefully, we realise that this should not even be in the news. I quote from the article:
"Super bug gene MAY spread world wide"
"immune to ALL BUT TWO antibiotics" (so use the two)
"MAY NOT lead to debilitating diseases"
"MAY NOT be more virulent than standard strains"
"researchers HAVE YET TO DETERMINE the fitness of the gene"
" SHOULD the gene keep circulating" 
"closer look at WHETHER the gene is prevalent"
"general public in North America IS NOT VULNERABLE AT ALL"
Why do they do this? Probably to warm us to another round of useless vaccinations. Hey, there is money to be made here.
The final word is "wash your hands frequently".
We did this during the flu pandemic and it worked. Let's try it again.

I don't know why one line is hightlighted. Ignore it. I didn't do that. I have been having trouble formatting my posts lately.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Day Filled with Joy and Relief

Mt. Robson  July 2010

I receive daily news up-dates from my favourite radio station, CKNW and I was overjoyed to read a news headline yesterday. I have been living in fear for so long now over this issue that I was suffering from sleep deprivation. The whole world has been 'on hold' so to speak, because of anxiety, and it has been going on for so long now that most have forgotten about it, but still, there has been this lingering feeling of horror whenever the subject is broached. But now it is over. The spokesperson, from the WHO (World Health Organisation) no less, has stated that we have had "pure luck on our side" (is there impure luck). By now you are probably shaking in your boots wondering what I am referring to. In case you did not know, the world wide Swine Flu Pandemic is now officially over. Yes, my friends, tears of relief and joy are in order. Now that we no longer have to live in fear, we can talk about it rationally. It was the greatest fear mongering out pouring of propaganda (next to anthropogenic global warming) in my lifetime. I believe it was perpetrated on us by big Pharma. Just follow the money and you cannot disagree. If you think this did not impact your pocketbook because like me, you did not buy a 'flu shot', think again. Our governments bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of this controversial vaccine and ended up throwing most of it away. That was our tax dollars at work, paying the drug companies who put the fear in us using the WHO as their spokesperson. But now we can rest easy, at least until the next pandemic, which might be real, but who is going to believe that. Watch for it, coming this winter.     

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Still Running After All These Years

I was delighted to find this old Ford one ton truck in behind a cluster of storage bins on my cousin's farm. When my grandfather bought it new in the early fifties, My Uncle Leonard took his future wife on their first date in it. A few years later, I had this experience in it, and I quote from my memoirs: "My absolutely favourite farm memory happened in late summer. It must have been an early harvest because I was not yet back in school. I was allowed to go to the field at mealtime when the aunties would bring a picnic lunch out to the ’men’ who stopped just long enough to eat and then jumped right back on the combines. The picnics I was familiar with were sandwiches, some Kool-Aid, an apple and a cookie or two. These were huge hot dinners, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, veggies and dessert. The blanket or table cloth was spread across the top of the stubble and we would flatten it out and find a level spot to place our plates. The sun was hot and we all cowered into the shade of the truck or one of the combines. I was really proud to be counted as one of the ’men’, or at least I was made to feel that way."

"That night, the weather held and it was decided that the combines would continue working through the night. I got to go with Uncle Leonard and sat in the red Ford, the one that we all rode on in 2001 at the Osler Centennial. We were facing Saskatoon, near Warman, and we could see the lights of the city in the distance. If I recall correctly, there was a radio in the truck and we were getting stations from deep in the USA. The combines would make a few rounds and then we would pull alongside and the grain would spew into the truck box. What a thrill for a little kid who grew up in town. I sincerely believe that it was during that star filled night, the combine lights filtering through the grain dust, the radio softy playing country music through the glow of the dashboard lights, that I bonded with my Uncle Leonard."
He has always been a special uncle, my mother's youngest brother, and we have been in contact over the years and now email each other regularly. This old Ford just might outlast both of us as Garry and Bruce tell me that they still use it. Yes, it is still a functioning farm work truck. Now that is "Ford Tuff". Amazing!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Performance ... Corvette Style

Warning! If you are not a car person, or a 'driver', you may not find this interesting. But, then again, you might, because it will give you some insight into such things as midlife crisis and what makes a large number of men 'tick'.

When you have dreamed of something all your life (not necessarily obsessed or driven) and it finally comes to pass, there is no doubt as to the raised levels of excitement and even adrenaline that begins to dominate your waking and sometimes your sleeping hours. I experienced this in spades. I am at the age where I was giving up hope of ever owning a high performance sports car and it was not because I could not afford one. I have become a pragmatic and practical person through the years and there are certain dreams that I have, if fulfilled, would be selfish, and a waste of time and money. Really. But having the opportunity to indulge, for a short time, and at little expense, is the best of all possibilities. 
I learned some interesting things, and some things were confirmed for me, as I began my trip in the 2000 Corvette on July 15, 2010, en route to Saskatchewan, via Edmonton. 
I learned very early that heads turn when you go by. People of all ages will gawk, stare, admire, and give huge grins to show their approval. The car is a work of art and even busylizzy says it has beautiful lines and is more beautiful closeup. Very few drivers will ignore a Corvette as it passes them, or as they pass by on the four lane highway. The biggest reaction is from other performance vehicle drivers. They will slow and drive alongside for a while, admiring, and so you can admire what they are driving, and if it is a young buck, there will be subtle manoeuvres to goad you into a race. Were I younger, no doubt I would have succumbed to such challenges. They are a test of manhood, are they not? 
Driving the Corvette was a surprise in that it was more comfortable on a long trip than I thought possible. I was concerned (mildly) about the harsh suspension and the loud engine and exhaust note, but neither was an issue. It is quite quiet and even on a rougher road and hard acceleration, the very airtight cabin was a calm shelter, especially with the 4 speaker Bose sound system. Speaking of which ... it had a nice feature of auto power boost as the road noise increased so there was never any fiddling with the volume controls. 
The car is equipped with a 400 hp engine and a 6 speed manual gear box. You can only begin to imagine the power and acceleration unless you have driven one of these. The first time I power shifted under hard acceleration I gave myself a really good scare (the good kind) and like a chocolate lover in a Purdie's shop, I couldn't get enough. The problem of course, is that there are laws in the land, the most important to driver's being speed limits.
After a while, I began to understand the three 'lockouts' engineered into the manual 6 speed transmission. Top left is first, straight down is second, up to the right is third, straight down is fourth, up again to the right is fifth, and straight down again is sixth. Reverse is far right and up. I found that in certain cases, first to second was not working. I discovered that when the revs are high, as in moderate to hard acceleration, the shifter slides like silk into second, can't miss. When the revs are down, as in just putzing around town, second gear locks out and you just go to third. Fuel economy, you know. The most obvious lockout is reverse when the car is in motion. This alleviated my fear of hitting reverse when cruising to fifth on the freeway. The third lockout is clever. The transmission 'knows' when you are accelerating to sixth or gearing down to fourth, when you are in fifth gear. It 'knows' this by the revs which are either increasing, or decreasing. So, you never have to wonder where the shifter will lead you, down to fourth, or down to sixth. Once you get used to this, it is wonderful. 
The engine has 360 ft. lbs. of torque so there is always power in all gears at all speeds, within reason. Passing situations are never a concern because one needs so little room to pass. Gear down, hit the gas, the rocket takes off, pull out, pass, pull back in and tap the powerful four wheel disc brakes and the job is done. No sweat. 
Cornering is phenomenal! There is no body sway whatsoever, only lateral G forces as you power your way through tight curves. Taking 50's at 100 is child's play, although not in the wet. The suspension and wide tires hold the car to the road like fly paper. 
There were a few times when I decided very suddenly to stop for a photograph. I needed next to no distance as even a slight pressure on the brake pedal gave a sure footed stop with no 'diving' or skidding. The idea with performance cars is that if it goes fast, it better stop fast. 
Creature comforts are many on this car. Taking the top off is a breeze and there was still room for my luggage under the hatch when the top was stored. Full leather, full power seats are very comfortable and can adjust so many ways that they could fit anybody. Full thermostat climate control, separate for each side, makes it very comfortable without ever dealing with settings and knobs. Exterior temp. readings let you know when you can take the top off or when the next cold low is coming and you better get the top on. 
There is a full array of instrumentation, including air pressure in the tires, and many of those can be displayed on the 'heads up' display projected onto the windshield almost in you line of sight as the driver. Just a glance, a few inches to the lower left and I could monitor the tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure and engine temperature, never having to take my eyes off the road. Much easier spotting the radar traps that way. By the way, I had zero traffic violations on the whole trip, not that I did not deserve any. 
My biggest surprise about this car was the fuel consumption. When I knew I was driving a Corvette to the prairies and back, I budgeted a lot of money for fuel, especially because I knew it would need high octane, the most expensive fuel. The mileage feature on the car gave me immediate fuel consumption, average on the current tank of fuel, and also, at the average rate, how many kilometers I had left in the current tank of fuel. My overall average for the whole trip was 36.2 miles per gallon, or for the metric minded, 7.9 litres /100km. I was amazed! 
I was very reluctant to return the car on Wednesday evening after I had cleaned all the bugs and road dirt off of it. As I handed the keys to my friend, very relieved that I had done no harm to his baby, he revealed to me the real reason that he let me have it. He knew I would fall in love with it. Anybody would. He asked me in all seriousness if I wanted to buy it. He offered me a price and then told me he had his eye on a newer one. What a scoundrel he is. I am still thinking about it.