Friday, 10 July 2020

Blocked Jet Stream

        I am a great believer in the jet stream and when I watch weather forecasts I like to be shown where the jet stream is.  Generally it appears as a well defined steeply wavy line that moves across North America.  If the line lies south of our section of BC it generally means cool and damp weather caused by the cooler air being drawn down from the north.  If the jet stream lies north of us, warmer air and drier air gets sucked up to us from the south.  It is the constant moving of the jet stream and its waves that give us the periodic changes of weather
    The other day a weather broadcast stated that the jet stream was blocked and stagnant so we keep getting the same weather, over and over and over again.  And that same weather is rain and showers that is what is causing the Robson Valley so much trouble with flooding and mudslides.
     When I tried to find a jet stream map over the last couple of days, I could see no well defined line, just fragments.  It was not re-assuring.
    The photos show the thick clouds that have been engulfing our mountains.

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Thursday, 9 July 2020

Lots of Well Wishes

    I have been hearing from a lot of friends and neighbors who were concerned about me after learning about my accident.  The emails and phone calls have been constant.  Food has been delivered.  It is sure gratifying to live in such a caring community and to have such good friends.
    Yesterday Jim and Abbie treated us to this “Mudslide” cake with flowing icing and peanuts to represent the rocks coming down.  As you can see the flow down Willox Creek is muddy while Sunbeam is clear but has the rocks.  Abbie was very creative with this tasty gift.
    Thank you to all of you for your well wishes.

Take a look at my photo-realistic paintings:

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The Freak Accident That Cost Me A Finger

    Remember our waterline that had ceased to  work because of the pile of debris that prevented any water from getting into our intake?   At the time I took the photo, the waterfall was running too violently for us to get out there at clear the debris off of the culvert, beside the torrents of water, every so often the falls threw out rocks that came shooting down from above.  
          Well, a few days later the falls had slowed somewhat, so Glen and I hiked up to see if we could get our water going again.  I didn’t see any flying rocks, so we harnessed up and secured ourselves to a nearby tree.  We carefully got ourselves out on top of the culvert and began to push boulders and pry pieces of logs off the edge.  I was working with a shovel, when suddenly a big rock (I think) bulleted against my outstretched left forearm, turning me, and forcing me to me knees.  I yelled at Glen over the roar of the water that I think I broke my arm.
         I got back on my feet and worked my way over to the bank beside the falls and laid down.  Glen followed and I told him again I thought I had broken my arm.  He made me comfortable, then headed off to seek help.  I lay there on the sloping ground with spray from the falls sprinkling down on me.  I started to feel faint and was going into shock, so I tried to position myself with my head low and elevated my legs, propped my feet on the tree, so that I wouldn’t pass out.  
        After being in the spray awhile I started to get hypothermia and began to shiver.  Glen returned and put his jacket around me.  As I lay there I noticed the reddish and beige glove on my left hand.  There was a small frayed and jumbled mass in top of the ring finger.  I assumed the glove must have been grazed by the rock, but then I realized that the small jumbled mass I was seeing was not my glove, but my finger.  I realized I was going to lose my finger and cursed at the thought of not being able to chord my guitar and mandolin
    Finally Search and Rescue arrived and they began trying to figure out how to get me away from the falls and down to an ambulance.   The area beside the falls was too narrow and dangerous for carrying me on a stretcher, and I was feeling strong enough to walk, so that’s what I did, with one of them steadying me from the front and the other from behind.
     When I got to the ambulance, I was bundled up and strapped onto a gurney for the ride to the McBride hospital, where I was examined and X-rayed.   Surprisingly, my forearm that I thought I was broken was alright, but my finger wasn’t.  When I was alone with my wife and tried to communicate about my guitar and mandolin playing, I broke down. 
    I was so impressed with the professionalism and competence all of the local medical, ambulance, and search and rescue staff that had helped me.
    I was then ambulanced for two and a half hours up to the Prince George Hospital, and was put in the Day Surgery Room with numerous others, all waiting for operations. The room slowly emptied out until I was the only one left.   It was about 8:00 PM when my turn came.  It was easy, I was put to sleep and woke up with no pain and one less finger on my left hand.  
       I am back home again.  I figure I will still be able to play the mandolin since most of the chords just use two fingers anyway.  The guitar will be trickier and I won’t be able to do a lot of the Chuck Berry licks I loved doing, but had that rock hit my head instead of my hand, I wouldn’t be here at all.

You can still see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Dramatic Mudslide In the Neighborhood

    Our heavy rains have amplified problems around McBride.  The most dramatic of which occurred just 3/4 of a mile (1.2 kms) west of our house.   Willox Creek, which is generally a benign undistinguished waterway,  let go with a huge mudslide that engulfed a house.  The residents who were inside at the time had to break a window and climb out to escape.  The mud and debris continued on over the road and nearby driveways and just about to another house.
    The area where the slide originated has been surveyed by geo-tech officials who said it was still unstable and that there was danger of additional mudslides.   Numerous households in the area have been forced to evacuate.  Mountainview Road is closed, isolating those people living beyond the slide area, and giving them no access to go anywhere.  
    The photo above was by I. Heise.   You can find additional pictures and read more about the mudslide slide at this link:

You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Why We Have No Water

    We lost our water the other day due to the heavy rains.  Yesterday it was sunny, so Glen and I decided we would hike up to Sunbeam Falls and see if we could do something to our water intake to get it flowing again.  We could hear the falls as we walked through the woods, it sounded as if the water was still rushing downslope pretty hard.
    When I rounded the rock outcropping and was able to see our culvert, I knew we weren’t going to be able to do anything.  Usually the bulk of the creek flow is on the far side of our culvert, but now the torrents are on both sides, because a pile of boulders and pieces of logs had piled up on top of our culvert diverting the flow to both sides.  We have never had  such a debris pile form on top of our culvert before.  The Sunbeam Creek must have been flowing much harder than it had in the last 35 years we have had the waterline.
    Glen wanted to try to get over to the culvert to clear the rocks off of the top of the culvert so some water would go in, giving us water in our waterline, but luckily we were able to talk him out of it; it was just to dangerous, the falls continues to drop another 65 ft. below our culvert.
    It looks like we will be living without running water in the house for a few days until the creek flow slows down, which will allow us to clear all of the debris from the top of our culvert.

You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:

Friday, 3 July 2020

Wild Waters

    The creeks and rivers in the Robson Valley are going through wild times and as a result, those residents who depend on them for water are going through hard times.  Many a water system has stopped working as torrents of water come roaring down the mountain slopes.  The Village of McBride has lost its water, and now depends on tanker trucks bringing water from Prince George.
    Yesterday we lost our water again and ventured out in the afternoon to refill our water containers at friends who get their water from a well.  We came upon a closure of Mountainview Road because Rainbow Creek had been flowing over the road and had washed out the side of the road.  We detoured around to use Koeneman Road and found that it was filling up with water on the curve at the corner of Koeneman Park.
    We wondered if we should continue on with our quest, fearing that we might not be able to get back home upon our return, but we were assured by Highway personal that the problem causing the flooding on Koeneman Road had been corrected and that the flooding would be going down, so we continued on to get our containers filled with drinking and cooking water.
    The photos you see are all the result of Rainbow Creek’s wild day.

You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Too Much Rain

    Last summer and fall you heard me complaining about the excessive amount of rainfall we had been getting, and here it is a year later and I am doing it again.  It just doesn’t want to stop raining.  There are puddles where I have never noticed them before.  The photo shows what my garden looks like.  Many of the heat loving plants are really struggling.
    It is ironic that with all of this rain falling, we are again without water in our house, as the torrents coming down Sunbeam Creek Falls prevent us from correcting our water system.  We are going up again in half an hour to see if we can do something to get our water back.  Wish us luck.

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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

McBride Peak Road Washout

    One of my favorite places to explore in he Robson Valley is the alpine on McBride Peak.  Unlike many of the other alpine areas around here, a road makes is accessible by vehicle (if you don’t mind driving on a very steep and rocky trail along some sections of sheer drop-offs).   I am always thankful when I have completed a trip up and back without incident.   A lot of the nice alpine areas are accessible only by hiking up unrelenting steep slopes from the valley bottom.  By the time I have slogged my way up to alpine, I am almost too exhausted to hike in the flowery meadows, which is the goal.
    Anyway, McBride Peak Road is now closed to traffic because of a washout.  More accurately, a slump,  that took out a section of the road’s edge in an area about 200 m. from the first lookout/picnic spot.  You can still walk up to the lookout however.    
    I am not sure what plans there are to rebuild this part of the road.  Who knows anymore with all of the chaos caused by the pandemic, but I hope it will be rebuilt soon.  

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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Western Tanager

    I was thrilled the other day to see a Western Tanager.  I was wheeling a cartful of split firewood over to stack beside the fence, when I looked up and noticed a yellow leaf half hidden behind the otherwise green leaves of a birch tree.  The thought struck me that that yellow leaf was about the same color as a Tanager, but the thought didn’t go any further.  Then as I got closer to the tree, the “leaf” flew off, but landed on a stump of my now dead cherry tree.  It was a Tanager.
    Male Western Tanagers are beautiful colorful birds.  I always enjoyed getting a sight of one, but hadn’t seen any around our house for years.  A week ago, I spotted one as I walked by the garden, but it immediately flew off.  Luckily, this time it stuck around long enough for me to go to the house, get my camera, and take some pictures.
    Tanagers live in Western North America and over winter in Mexico and Costa Rica.   In the early 1800‘s when Lewis and Clark made their expedition to the Pacific, Lewis saw a Tanager and made note of it in his diary.

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Monday, 29 June 2020

Fraser River; Thou Banks Runneth Over

    Here are a couple of photos that I took from the Halfway Lookout on McBride Peak on Saturday.

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Sunday, 28 June 2020

Horseshoe Lake Flooding

    Above is a photo of Horseshoe Lake Road, the road we usually walk down.   It will be a while before we walk down it again because the Fraser River has flooded, submerging the whole around the lake with water.
    I took the photo below from the halfway lookout on McBride peak.  You can see Horseshoe Lake (the bluer water).  Normally it has a distinct horseshoe shape, but now water fills the area between its arms, and the area between it and the Fraser River.

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Saturday, 27 June 2020

Cows in the Pasture

    I was attracted to these spotted cows feasting on new grass in a pasture the other evening.  I liked the  distinct black and white coloration of the cows against the soft greens and blues of their surroundings.  We’ve had a lot of rain and so the pastures are rich with grass.

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Friday, 26 June 2020

New Sink, No Water

    Last week I spent days putting in a new sink in the kitchen and this week we have had days with no water.  Well, more accurately, we have some water in the blue container you see in the photo.  We got some from friends, but we don’t have any coming through our waterline because of the powerful torrent of water presently pouring down Sunbeam Falls that is preventing us from correcting whatever problem is causing our stoppage.  It is either that our intake filter is clogged or the culvert has filled with gravel preventing water from getting to our intake.  
    In the past we have suffered through similar household “droughts,” so we know how to adapt.  The blue container is permanently stored in our shop for such emergencies.   One of the major headaches we have when our water goes down is the inability to flush the toilet, but fortunately we have an outhouse.

    We are not the only ones with water problems.  The entire Village of McBride has been told not to drink their water.  It always seems a bit strange to have no water when all of the creeks and rivers are overflowing with excess water.  The old saying, “Water, water, everywhere; and not a drop to drink” comes to mind.

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Thursday, 25 June 2020

Fraser River Flooding

    I woke up to hear the Robson Valley mentioned during the provincial news on the radio.  They announced that 70 households along the Dore River had been put on “Evacuation Alert” due to flooding.  Shortly thereafter I got a call from Glen, a neighbor who is on our waterline.  He said that our water had stopped, so we hiked up to Sunbeam Falls to see what we could do.  The water was tumbling down the falls with such force that it was too dangerous for us to do much of anything.  
    We were able to clear some of the rocks off of the grid on the top of our culvert and to raise the water gate to try to flush out the culvert, but that was all.  That did give us a bit of a trickle of water at home, but it is pretty murky looking.  We will have to wait until the flow diminishes before we can really do anything.
    This afternoon we went to do our walk at Horseshoe Lake Road, but the road is closed due to the rising water.  Water was flowing over the road and the picnic area was flooded.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Roadside Attractions

    Here are some of the flowering plants growing along the edge of the road that I saw yesterday on our afternoon walk:  a wild rose, some kind of willow shrub, and a clump of daisies that were blowing in the wind.

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Fraser River Rising

    Above is a photo of our “marker” tree that grows beside the road.  During the late summer when the river is low, it sits about 90 yards (80m) across a beach to the water, but during the spring when all of the snow on the mountains start to melt the water level rises quite a bit.  Whenever the water level gets up to the base of the tree, we start paying attention to it.  The water will have to go up another 4 feet (1.2 meters) before it gets to the road.
    You can also see the high water at Koeneman Park on the trail beside the highway bridge (photo below).  Water is also starting to encroach onto some of the low lying fields.   I always that the flooding increases the likelihood of a mosquito population explosion, and they are already an irritant. 
    The rise in the water seems a couple of weeks late this year. 

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Monday, 22 June 2020

River Rocks, My Latest Painting

    I completed the painting I am calling “River Rocks” yesterday.  I used acrylics on a 24 X 30 inch canvas.  It took me 140 hours to paint.  I was attracted to the image because of the green water and the raw and primary elements of the Earth:  rock and water.  I thought it might be challenging to try and re-create the water.
    It is based on a photo which I took at Rearguard Falls in Mt. Robson Provincial Park.

You can see my other paintings at:

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Bombus centralis on Lilac

    Lilac bushes are great attractors of hummingbirds and a wide variety of insects.  I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I saw a hummingbird moth sucking up lilac nectar (photo below).  It was smaller than a hummingbird, but sure acted like one, and I wasn’t sure what it was.  Another insect that always catches my eye is the Bombus centralis, a bumblebee with orange stripes instead of the yellow stripes I was used to seeing.  
    Like many of our other trees, the lilacs in our yard took a hard hit over the winter, but they were able to put out enough blossoms to make the pollinators happy.

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Saturday, 20 June 2020

Rocky Mountain Incense

    During our first June living in our house, we discovered that we lived in a very mosquito-prone area.  We began buying mosquito coils that we would burn in our bedroom at night,.  This enabled us to sleep without being disturbed by the buzzing of the persistent pests.  Mosquito coils, which were locally nicknamed “Rocky Mountain Incense” are a probably toxic conglomeration of material, that when lit slowly smoked up the room, driving the mosquitoes away.  I often wondered if the foul smelling smoke intoxicated us into a deep slumber making us oblivious to the mosquitoes.
    After those early years, and afraid for our health, we stopped using mosquito coils, but the other day in the hardware store, while looking for anti-mosquito products, I saw what appeared to be some “high-end” mosquito coils packaged in a fancy metal container, and I bought some.
    One of the problems at home is that mosquitoes tend to hang out in our front porch and carport, the two places where we enter our house.  Whenever we open a door, the mosquitoes swarm inside, then they dedicate their lives to making us miserable, especially when we are trying to sleep.  We have had several occasions when our cat who has been outside and can open the door to let herself in, comes in without our knowing, leaving the door open, until our house is full of mosquitoes. 
    We have begun burning our newly purchased mosquito coils out in the carport which keep the mosquitoes away from our door, this keeps the “mozzies” out of our house.  They burn for about 8 hours, and these fancy ones do smell like incense, so I think we will continue to buying and burning “Rocky Mountain Incense” during mosquito season.
    I feel a lot better about burning the coils outside, so we don’t end up breathing that smoke inside our house.

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Friday, 19 June 2020

Firewood Security

    Winter is such a dominant season in Canada, that year round I am thinking and planning for it.  One of the main things I have to plan for is getting enough firewood to heat the house through those cold winter nights.  In the spring I strive to cut and split firewood so that it will be dry and ready to burn during the winter.
    A few weeks ago I felled 6 birch trees for firewood and managed to cut, split and stack the pieces of one of them.  I planned to cut up the others this week, but then got unexpectedly sidetracked by the whole business of replacing the kitchen sink.
    I noticed in “Pete’s Daily Email” (a local information source) that an acquaintance was selling birch firewood.  It was part of a logging block done by the Dunster Community Forest that now own the birch flooring company in McBride.  Even though I would probably have enough firewood by cutting up the trees I felled, I figured that one can never have enough firewood, so I ordered a load of birch.
    It arrived yesterday, and as you can see it is a “lot of wood”.  I will put off cutting up my felled trees for now, and concentrate on splitting all of the wood that was delivered.
    I’m not sure where I am going to stack all of this firewood, but I’ll figure something out.  In my forty-something years of living here, I have never before been so “Firewood” rich.

You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:

Thursday, 18 June 2020

White-Tail Deer in the Neighborhood

    I was surprised this morning to see a White-tailed deer in the yard.  Just yesterday a neighbor told me that he had seen some at his place.  While White-tails are common in a lot of the Robson Valley, in our neck of the woods we don’t see them, we see Mule Deer.
    White-tails are a lighter tan color, they seem more delicate, and as you might expect, have a long tail that is white on the underside.  The white tail is like a flag waving behind them as they bound away.  Mule deer (photo below) are more bulky, a darker color, and look stronger.
    I don’t know why the White-tails have suddenly made an appearance.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Waterlilies are Blooming

    The waterlilies in my pond are blooming.  While they are not as exquisite or as colorful as some of the domesticated waterlilies, I look forward to seeing them bloom every year.  Down, under the water in the muck they grow from a long tuber that looks like the arm of an octopus.  Years ago when I first built the pond, I saw some of the tubers floating on Horseshoe Lake and brought them home and stuck them in the mud of my pond.  
    In 2007 I did a painting of waterlily which can be seen at: 


Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Plumbing, My Least Favorite Household Chore

    There is a saying,  “When one door closes, another door opens.”   I have discovered that the opposite is also true, “When a door opens, another door closes.”   That is what happened to us.   After our unfortunate episode of buying an expensive range and discovering it was a lemon, we were very hesitant about buying another new one, so we kept on using our old one, despite its constant turning itself off because of a “Fan Error”.   
    We eventually got fed up enough with it.  We crossed our fingers and ordered a new stove.  Then, as we waited for it to arrive, we antagonized over whether it would work properly, after feeling so stung with our last “new” stove.
    I am happy to report that our new one (a GE) arrived and has been working wonderfully.  We have both been impressed with how quiet it is (the fans in Induction stoves can be loud) and unlike our previous “new” stove, the oven goes to the correct temperature.  Anyway we were both happy and relieved with this one.
    About 15 minutes after our relief (the door that opened), we discovered that the drain under our sink was leaking (the other door that closed).  The leak was due to a totally corroded drain piece in our sink.  Immediately, I was filled with dread:  it meant I would have to do plumbing.
    We had bought a new sink and faucet years ago, which was in storage in my shop.  This seemed like the right time to get it out and install it.  Because the new sink was a little bit bigger than the old one, I had to enlarge the hole in the kitchen counter so it would fit.  This task was much more complicated than it might seem.  It required using a router, a skill saw, a Dremel, and a hammer and some chisels.  That is saw dust you can see under our new sink, which fortunately I was able to make fit.  I was amazed at how many times I had to walk up to the shop to get a different tool.
    But fitting the sink was not the end of the job.  All the drain plumbing for the old sink, was a bit out of line with what was needed for the new one, and I had to rejig it to make it fit.  This caused some small leaks which I am still in the process of discovering and sealing, one by one.   Not only that, because the new sink is just a bit bigger, the fancy hinges on the kitchen cabinet doors below the sink, now won’t close all the way, so I will have to move the top hinge on both doors to a lower position.
    These are fancy Ikea sliding hinges, and will require me to router out a 1 1/2 circular hole in the back of each cabinet door to hold the hinge in place.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can make the hole without breaking through the wood into the front of the cabinet door.
    I am always fascinated at home repairs and how doing one thing always involves about ten other tasks.  Wish me luck.

You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Rain To Make the Jungle Grow

    I have been thinking that it was starting to get a bit dry and that we could use some rain.  Well, the rain came, and now I am begging for a truce.  Because we have a rather short growing season, once things start to grow, they explode and once the explode I have to scramble around like a mad-man trying to stay on top of things.  All this rain will amplify the growth explosion.
    A couple of days ago I noticed how tall the grass in the paddock was getting, and thought I should make time to cut cut for mulch in the garden.  I didn’t, and now the heavy rainfall has knocked huge swaths of it down, which will make it more difficult to cut.  The garden which was pretty much under control will now erupt in weeds and I suspect I will soon lose control over the weeds.
    The photo above show the hostas in our jungle-like foliage garden.  Below from the same garden, is a Giant Allium bloom.

My photo-realistic pantings can be seen at:

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Zooming In

    A friend asked me what kind of camera I used and I told him I used a Sony Camcorder (FDR-AX53) as a camera.  One of the reasons, I explained,  was the amazing range of focus that it allowed.  I can focus in on something an inch away, like a flower bloom, or zoom in on something really far away.
    The photo above is admittedly not great, but considering how far away I was (300 yards or 280 meters) it’s not bad.  I took the shot while visiting friends.  From their porch they have a far and narrow view of the Fraser River down below their house.  I noticed a white spot on top of something dark, and wondered if it might be an eagle, but from that distance, I really couldn’t be sure.  I grabbed my camcorder and zoomed in as much as I could at saw that it definitely was a bald eagle and took the photo.

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Friday, 12 June 2020

Striving For Life

    On my May 23rd blog I lamented over my plum and cherry trees that had been killed over the winter.  I have heard that cherry trees throughout the Valley have suffered the same fate.  The photo above shows how the tree looked this morning;  bare and naked, against the backdrop of green leaves on the other trees.  I was depressed to see the demise of a tree that had provided so many cherry pies to us in the past 35 years.
    Today I am happy to report that this old cherry tree, that has withstood so many cold winters and the mangling and trashing by bears, still has a spark of life in it and is fighting to stay alive.  There are now two places on the tree that have developed some leaves.  One is part of a branch on the very top, the other is a sprout from a main trunk (below).
    I don’t know if these to two spots are enough to pull the tree through, but at least it is a sign that the tree is alive and fighting for life.

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Thursday, 11 June 2020

Firewood: The Many Warmings

    I once read a quote attributed to Henry David Thoreau, it went something like this:  “Firewood warms you twice, once when you split it and again when you burn it.” 
    My firewood warms me more than two times.  First when I fall and buck up the tree.  This doesn’t really work up too much of a sweat, because the chainsaw does the work and I just have to hold it in place.          
    The next warming is more intense:  The firewood I have been getting this year is up a steep slope across the road, so I have to pick up each piece (Birch is really heavy) and throw it down slope.  They bounce and ricochet off of rocks and other trees and all end up in different places.   After I have thrown all the pieces halfway down slope, I go down, pick each one of them up and throw them again, this time most of them land in the deep ditch beside the road.  
    I get the third warming by picking up the pieces from the ditch, lugging them up the steep ditch slope beside the road, trying not to slip, and put them in the back of the truck.  Once I have them all loaded (making numerous pauses to rest), I drive the truck down my driveway and stop beside the shop.  (This is the easiest part of the job)
    Then I have to unload the heavy pieces (I’m sure some of them weigh 80 pounds or 35 kg), stacking them beside the shop door.  That done, I have to start splitting the bucked up pieces.  You have to split the firewood into smaller strips so that it dries out enough to burn easily.  Luckily I have an electric splitter which will split most of the birch.  Some of the thick heavy pieces that had limbs are too much for the splitter, which quits and gives up.  Those I have to split by hand using a wedge and sledge hammer. 
    Once I have the firewood split, I have to load it again, this time into a wheelbarrow and wheel it over to where it will be stacked until it is time to burn it in the winter.
    It would be a lot easier just to turn up a thermostat on the wall and have the heat come on, but when I am not actually collecting, carrying, splitting, and stacking the firewood, I realize it gives me a lot of exercise, which is a good thing, and there is nothing quite as warming as standing by a blazing wood stove in the winter.

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