Wednesday 31 December 2014

Not Exactly What We Had In Mind, Skye

    Skye’s favorite place is to be all cuddled up on the bed.  Since she is a dog with very short legs, she sometimes has trouble making the leap up to the top of the thick mattress.  Joan had a great idea the other day, “Let’s put the footstool that isn’t being used, beside the bed so Skye can use it as a step, to make it easier for her to get onto the bed.”  
    That was a good idea, so I got the footstool and placed it at the end of the bed.  Then we gave Skye a bit of training so she got used to using the footstool as a step.  Everything seemed fine.
    In the middle of the night, Skye, who had been snoozing on the floor, decided she wanted to be up on the bed.  Suddenly in the darkness, Joan heard a clunk, and some shuffling that she couldn’t understand, and when she turned on the light, she found Skye curled up, not on the bed, but on the tiny footstool.
    I guess in the dark Skye saw enough to jump onto the footstool, once there, in her confused and sleepy mind, she thought she must be on the bed, but couldn’t figure out why it was so small, but she made the best of her situation, and curled up on the tiny new surface.

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Tuesday 30 December 2014

Cold Walk

    Even though it was cold yesterday afternoon (-14C, +7F), it was sunny and we felt the need to get outside, so we decided to drive down to the airfield to take Skye for a walk.  We enclosed ourselves in layers of down and wool, and once we arrived, we forced ourselves out of the truck and onto the runway.  When we got to the far end of the tarmac we had to face a breeze, which bit into the exposed skin on our faces.  It was a real relief when we finally got back into the truck.
      We had gotten enough fresh air.

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Monday 29 December 2014

Clear and Cold

    Over night the skies cleared and when I went out to get the last armful of firewood before going to bed, the stars of Orion’s belt were twinkling in the dark sky.  With the clear skies came the cold, and this morning when we awoke it was -20C (-4F). 
    Over the years I have noticed that whenever the temperatures get below -15C that our double glazed windows start to get moisture condensing along the edges. When it gets colder than that the condensation freezes.  
    When I walked around the pond with Skye, the low sun was just hitting the top of the fir trees that grow below the bluffs, upslope from our house.  

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Saturday 27 December 2014

Lucifer on the Couch

    It gives me a laugh every time I see Lucifer resting on the back of the couch in this position.  I have already taken several photos of her doing this, but somehow I couldn’t pass up taking another one.

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Friday 26 December 2014

Squirrel Tunnel

    After our willow trees got trimmed, I was left with a big pile of firewood.  I soon noticed that there was a squirrel going in and out, in between the crevasses in the chunks of wood.  I figured it was establishing a nest, deep within the pile.  
    Shortly after we got our huge dump of snow, and I had shoveled my driveway, I noticed that the squirrel had burrowed a tunnel from the woodpile to the edge of the driveway.  This was a bit of a surprise because I didn’t really think of squirrels as being tunnelers, but I supposed it provided safe passage, as it traveled from one place to another.  I enjoy watching it streak through its obstacle course: exploding out of the mouth of the tunnel, scampering across the driveway, and then scrambling up onto a tree where it leaped from one branch of one tree to another.  

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Thursday 25 December 2014

A White Christmas

    Living in the Robson Valley, part of the Rocky Mountain Trench that runs through middle of the Canadian Rockies, means I generally don’t spend much time worrying about the indignity of having to endure a green Christmas, but this year I did.  Our 30 inch (76cm) dump of snow that we had toward the end of November, was disappearing fast under the onslaught of weeks of warm/wet Pacific air.  
    As Christmas approached the valley bottom was green and brown with grasses.  Because our house is located a bit higher, we still had snow on the ground, but it was slowly being eaten away and I was worried that by the time Christmas came, we would be back to a grassy lawn.  Fortunately we did get a couple of flurries, and as you can see from the photo, a white Christmas, and while we still haven’t gotten enough snow for me to use my new snowthrower, at least things seem like they should.
    On Christmas Eve, friends came over to share a pizza and the amazing citrus trifle and marzipan that Joan made.  It is always so enjoyable to sit around comfortably yakking with friends, music in the background, and good food in front of you.  This morning Joan and I opened gifts, most of them were the unusual things our friend Di, gave us.  I never cease to be amazed at what she finds and sends us for Christmas.
    We got the snow, we saw friends, ate good food, opened gifts in front of the Christmas tree, so things are good at this end.  I hope they are the same with you.

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Wednesday 24 December 2014

Cattails: Disintegration

    I noticed the other day on one of my walks around the pond, how the firm cylindrical heads of the cattails were starting to break down to disperse their fluffy seeds.  Above you can see how some of them look.  The pond is covered with snow on the ice, and you can see brownish tints in some of the uneven surfaces where the cattail fluff has gotten hung up while being blown in the wind.  
    When I built the pond, I wanted to establish water plants in it to encourage wildlife.  To get cattails growing, all I did was throw a handful of cattail fluff, which I had gathered at a local lake, onto the water and nature did the rest.  The cattails began to grow profusely, but then suddenly their population began to decrease when a muskrat moved in.  It liked to eat the cattail roots.  The muskrat stayed around for a few years, but soon it had eaten so many of the cattails, there was not enough left to get it through the winter so it took off for a more bountiful environment, and the cattail population started to rebound.
    I had always hoped that the cattails would attract red-winged black birds.  A few times I saw one down among them, but there must not have been enough cattails to please him, because he never established himself at the pond.  In the summer other birds do hang around and make use of the cattails, and ducks take shelter amongst the stalks where they can hide with their ducklings.

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Tuesday 23 December 2014


    Due to Joan’s bad hip and Skye’s hesitancy, I haven’t walked our trail for a while.  In that absence we have experienced a lot of strong winds.  Yesterday, I did get Skye to come along (I put her on a leash), and we made our way down the trail.  The whole length of the trail was scattered with smallish broken branches that had been blown off the trees, and I picked them up and threw them aside as we progressed.  There must have been a small branch every ten paces,
    When we got to the place where two big birches had blown over about 3 weeks ago (they blew away from the trail, so they weren’t a problem), I discovered that a big spruce had been blown down and it was totally blocking the trail.  It was situated in a way that made walking around it very difficult.  Skye and I had to push our way through the branches under the tree to get by.  Clearly if we were going to continue using the trail, something had to be done.
    So in the afternoon, I fired up the old chainsaw, hiked down the trail, and cut away a chunk of the tree’s trunk, so the trail could once again be used.
    When I was working for the BC Forest Service, we often had to do different sorts of silvicultural surveys.  The way that was usually done, was that in a measured out area, samples of what you were looking for were counted, then that number was multiplied by the whole area that you were interested in, giving you an idea of the total you could expect.
    Walking the trail yesterday and finding so many branches that had blown down on the trail, I thought, if I was to measure the area in the trail then multiplied that by the total area of the forest, an amazingly large number of branches came down in the wind, and I find branches down after every wind.  It seems like all the trees should be stripped of all the branches by now, but forests are dynamic things that keep on growing and changing.
    Below is a photo showing the opening I made that will enable us to continue to walk the trail.

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Monday 22 December 2014

Davy Crockett

    I am the child of television.  It has been the main source of information throughout my life.  I suspect that what I saw on television has had a tremendous influence upon shaping who I am.  One of important influences flickered across our black and white television screen on December 15, 1954, shortly after I reached the ripe age of seven.  It was Davy Crockett,.
    Walt Disney had build a huge amusement park in California, part of which was called “Frontier Land,” and he needed some means of pushing it to the public.  He told his people to find some old American folk hero, that could be used as a figurehead.  They came back with ‘Davy Crockett’, who most Americans had probably never heard of.  Disney got his screen writers together and filmed three television episodes about Davy Crockett “King of the Wild Frontier.”
    The Davy Crockett that Disney came up with was a coonskinned-capped and buckskinned-fringed  mountain man, who fought Indians, bears, legislators, and Mexicans.  Most of what was shown was fiction, but to a seven year old boy, Davy was an idol of the highest order, and I wasn’t the only seven year old who thought so.  The Davy Crockett craze swept across America.
    Boys across the nation began to sport coonskin caps.  I wanted one like crazy, but being in a family of rather meager means, my mom and dad wouldn’t buy one for me, but my mother came through, found some pieces of fur, probably from some old coat collar, and made me a “coonskin” cap.
    That cap, and the fact my name was “David” (the base of the name ‘Davy’) made me swell with boyhood pride.  Another thing that made me feel like I was somehow linked to this mythological hero was the fact that up in my grandparent’s attic there was a percussion rifle, not a flintlock like Davy’s, but a rifle just as long and heavy.  My cousin Dan (alias ‘Daniel Boone’) and I used to love to go up into the old dark attic and we strained our puny arm muscles, taking turns trying to hold the terribly heavy gun horizontally.
    Its always hard to know exactly what influence something like “Davy Crockett” really had on me, but I always liked his philosophy ( “Just figure out what is right and go do it.”)   Living, as I do in British Columbia, I wonder if Davy’s wanderlust for the untamed frontier had anything to do with my moving here to these isolated mountains.  
    Lastly, I always liked longish hair on men.  When you look at the length of Davy’s hair from the photo below, it is really long, compared to the hair length of males of the time.  Nine years later, when the Beatles became popular (another important influence of television on my life) their hair was not any longer than Davy’s in the photo below.  When the Beatles hit, people (mostly men) were outraged at the length of their hair.  I had never heard any comments about Davy Crockett’s hair length.

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Sunday 21 December 2014

Hurrah, We Made it!

    The Winter Solstice is here.  Psychologically, it is one of the most important days of the whole year for me.  It means we have arrived at the tipping point for daylight, and the trend toward longer days and less darkness begins.  Officially, here in McBride the sun is supposed to peak over the horizon in the morning at 8:14, and dip below it at 3:44 (15:44), but in reality, since we live in a valley surrounded by mountains, you can’t see the sun until later, once it gets over the mountains, and because of the mountains, it disappears earlier, and today you can’t see it at all because the sky is totally overcast.
    While, in my mind, I always play up the fact that the days will be getting longer, I conveniently ignore the fact that the Winter Solstice is the beginning of winter.  To me it seems like we have been in winter for months already, although over the last couple of weeks we have been experiencing spring-like weather-- above freezing temperatures, disappearing snow, and lots of rain.  While rainy days can be depressing, I rationalize by thinking that each day of mild temperatures is one less day of really cold temperatures.
    I took the photo of the windsock yesterday at the airport when we were walking the dog in the amazingly strong winds (as indicated by the horizontal position of the windsock).  It was so windy that when I threw Skye the ball it just kept on pushing it down the tarmac until I ran the 40 meters to stop it.  We ended up leaving the runway and walking along the trees on the way back in hopes of escaping the strongest gusts.
    Today, the winds have stopped.  We woke up to no power for half of the morning, and no internet until noon.  Like I mentioned the skies are totally overcast, but still the fact that the Winter Solstice has arrived buoys my psyche.
    Below: a wind blown dog.

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Saturday 20 December 2014

Oh, Christmas Tree

    There were times yesterday afternoon, when I was ready to throw in the towel, and forget about putting a Christmas tree up.  It just seemed like too much of a struggle.  
    While most people who know where we live (an isolated community in the mountains of British Columbia) probably assume that I go out to some snow covered slope with axe in hand  to get a Christmas tree, the reality is somewhat different.  In the past, I have slogged out through knee-high snow and cut a small tree.  I dragged it back to the truck, hauled it home, and tried to rig up some kind of base so it would stand up in the living room, but after a few of those experiences I gave up that hassle and bought us an artificial tree.
    Yesterday, it seemed that going to the attic of my shop and carrying the artificial tree back to the house had become almost too big of a hassle, but I did it.  I was already having trouble with my back, and somehow getting the tree to the living room made it worse. 
    We positioned the tree into the corner, then plugged in the lights and discovered only 2 of the 3 strings worked.  (To make putting the tree up easier, I always leave the lights attached to the tree when we store it.)  The lights are old and cheap ones, so if one bulb is bad, it effects the whole string.  We tried to go down the string of lights, re-positioning each bulb, to see if it was the one causing the problem,  but we couldn’t get the string to light up. 
    With each movement, my back was getting worse, but I wanted to get all the lights going, because once they were lit, Joan takes over in decorating the tree.  In my frustration in trying to get the lights going, I finally decided that they all had to come off of the tree, so I could make sure each light on the burnt out string was tested (it was very difficult to tell which one I had tried when they were strung on the tree).  I unhooked all the light strings from the tree and they end up in a tangled pile on the floor.
    One string was plugged into the wall socket and the other two were plugged into it.  I unplugged them from each other and plugged each one individually into the wall socket, and to my surprise all three strings of lights then worked.  That meant the problem was not with an individual bulb, but with the plug in on the one string.  After I rearranged the sequence of strings they all worked, but unfortunately, they were not on the tree, but still in a tangle on the floor.
    My back pain was getting worse as I untangled the complex weave of lights, and draped them over the tree.  Then I went around connecting each bulb to a branch.  To my great relief all the lights remained lit.  Finally, I got them fairly well spaced and happily turned the tree project over to Joan.  I had only enough energy left to get my aching back to the bed, where I spent the next couple of hours trying to recoup.  
    While I was down (and out), Joan did her magic on the tree, and as a result our living room now glows with Christmas spirit.   I am afraid if it was all left up to me, I would have given up and played the Scrooge this year.

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Friday 19 December 2014

My Junk Drawer

    I don’t know if everyone has a junk drawer, but I have had one (sometimes more than one) throughout my life.  In it I keep all the flotsam that I accumulate, things I no longer use, but that I might some day.  It is full of things I don’t want to get rid of.
    My junk drawer usually has a high percentage of electronic debris (old earphones and buds, a tiny TV,  transistor radios, old rechargeable batteries), jewelry-like items that I never wear (cufflinks, watches, collar pins that I wore in  my high school days), small burnt out flashlights, some hippie bells with beads, a piece of denim (in case I want to patch my jeans), a Civil War bullet, some old belt buckles, empty thread spools, and a wide menagerie of other miscellaneous items.

    Most of the time my junk drawer lies quietly and undisturbed, closed to the world and forgotten, but about twice a year , when I am looking to something, I open it up and rifle through its contents.  Occasionally, I actually find what I am looking for among the jumble of old items from my life.

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Thursday 18 December 2014

Wednesday 17 December 2014

How to Make Birds Disappear

    I like birds.  I enjoy watching them flutter around, giving action and a flash of color to our yard, and so I put out sunflower seeds, animal fat, and peanut butter to entice them to hang around, but if you are a grinch-like miserable person who hates birds and don’t want to see them, I have discovered a way to make them disappear--have a Christmas Bird Count.
    The Robson Valley is currently having its annual Christmas bird count, and it seems most of my usual birds have decided not to participate.  I did see some Black Capped Chickadees, a handful of ravens, a Downy Woodpecker, and a Red Breasted Nuthatch, but so far that‘s all.  This year I seem to be missing  some of those I usually see for the count (more species of woodpeckers, lots of Pine Siskins, and Flickers ).  I know some populations, like the Evening Grosbeak, have plummeted across North America, and I haven’t seen any of those for a couple of years.
    My list this year is pretty sad, both in variety of species and numbers of birds, and I have been putting off calling Elaine because I am embarrassed to give her my results.

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Tuesday 16 December 2014

Lucifer Catching the Low Light

    As we approach the Winter Solstice, up in the Interior of BC, the sun never gets very high above the horizon.  We have a woods running beside our property line, and at this time of year, the sun never rises above the trees.  Fortunately, because there are a lot of leafless deciduous trees in the forest, we do get sunlight filtering through the naked branches.
    Yesterday in the living room, I noticed Lucifer cuddled on her blanket beside the wood stove, with her face catching the sunlight as it streamed through the bay window.  The photo was taken an hour before noon, and I think you can see by the long shadows in the photo that the sun is pretty low, even in the middle of the day.

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Monday 15 December 2014

Starting All Over On Winter

    Late in November, it seemed that winter was on us.  The Robson Valley had a huge dump of snow (30 inches or 76 cm), followed by frigid temperatures (-37C, 34F).  Assuming that those situations would continue until break-up in the spring, I settled back prepared to hibernate, interrupted only by having to throw wood into the wood stove   Of course, Mother Nature gets her back up whenever people start assuming things about her, so she then sent us above-freezing temperatures with the accompanying pouring rain and strong wind.
    Now, it seems we are back to where we were in early November.  In the valley bottom the snow has disappeared, and once again we see green lawns.  Hopefully, when winter does starts up with its bluster, the snowthrower I have ordered will have arrived, and I will be able to deal with the next big dump of snow like a gentleman farmer, instead of a peasant, with shovel in hand.

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Sunday 14 December 2014

Harold Lloyd

    One of the gifts that I got from the Schmidt side of my family, is the love to movies.  As a child, I was often taken to movie theaters by my grandparents and uncle.  It always was one of the most exciting and pleasurable parts of my childhood.  My sister, cousin, and I were introduced to a full spectrum at cinema, everything from Walt Disney movies to westerns.  Many of the films that I saw at the time remain my lifetime favorites.
    One day in 1963, I was informed by my mother that my grandparents wanted to take me and my sister (I assume she was along) to a movie.  I asked, “What movie?” and was told a Harold Lloyd film.  I had never heard of Harold Lloyd and so asked who that was.  My mother told me that Harold Lloyd was an old time, slap-stick, comedian, who was my Grandfather Schmidt’s favorite.  (“Pop, never passed up a Harold Lloyd movie.”)  I still didn’t know what to expect, but I was alway ready and eager to go to the movies.
    That night Harold Lloyd became my favorite old time comedian too.  “Harold Lloyd’s World of Comedy” made such an impression on me that I still have the review of the movie which I cut out of the local paper in 1963, the day after I saw it.  I could never understand why with the fame of his contemporaries (Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton), Lloyd is still relatively unknown.
    When movies started to come out on video tape, I looked for the film, but it never seemed to be available.  I bought some tapes of Chaplin and the Little Rascals, but my wish of having Lloyd’s World of Comedy remained unfulfilled.  Then a month or so ago, I noticed that it was being shown one night on Turner Classic Movies, I recorded it and finally got to see it again.  
    After all these years, and a lifetime later, I still found myself laughing, and on the edge of my seat, as Harold Lloyd dangled from the hands of a clock at the top of a skyscraper, and teetered and clung to a wobbly scaffold, high above the streets of a city.  It was so nerve-wracking and funny, it was almost a relief when the film finally ended.
    I looked again at the Turner Classic Movie store for the film on DVD.  I would still like to buy it, but while some of his other films (“Safety Last” and “The Freshman”) are available, “Harold Lloyd’s World of Comedy,” which is a compilation of some of his best bits, is not.  At least now, I have the recording of it that I took when it was shown on TV.

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Saturday 13 December 2014


    You are looking at the last of the tomatoes that we grew this summer in the greenhouse.  To be honest, the biggest of these tomatoes disappeared last night onto my side of the pizza.  I don’t remember what date I picked them, but I think it was in late September or early October.    I always find it amazing that tomatoes, which to me seem so fragile and fleeting, can last so many months after are they are picked.
    Most of these tomatoes are a variety called  “Longkeepers.”  As the name implies, they are designed so that you can pick them then just bring them inside and store them on a shelf, and they last and last.  They are sort of an orangish color on the outside, but when you cut into them they are much redder and still juicy inside, and their flavor is a whole lot better than the tasteless things they call “tomatoes” that can be found in the grocery this time of year

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Friday 12 December 2014

Letters To Santa

    Yesterday, full of relief, I drove into the Post Office in McBride to mail off my last stack of calendars that serve as my Christmas presents to family and friends.  It always makes me feel so good to be finally be done with that little chore.  While I was standing there waiting for Wendy to total up my final bill ($56), I heard some commotion at the door and turned around to see a teacher and her class from the elementary school file in.
    The class had come to the post office to mail off the letters they had written to Santa.  (The post office has a special mailbox dedicated to Santa.)  The kids took turns putting their precious letters into the box, then after being given a sucker from the postmistress, the class shuffled back out the door.
    If you haven’t yet sent off your letter to Santa, the address is:
                                        North Pole, Canada
    Better get that done, time is moving fast.

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Thursday 11 December 2014

The Plumbing Ripple

    I have had to do plumbing ever since we bought our house in 1977.  Over all those years of dealing with plumbing, I have learned to hate it.  In those early days I became frustrated because our local hardware store never seemed to have the pieces I needed, so I would end up buying and dealing with 5 different pieces, because I couldn’t get the two pieces that would have solved the problem.
    Now we have a well-stocked hardware store that often has easier solutions than the one I was seeking, but still, because our water system and house are all “home-made,”  I know that whenever a problem arises, it is only the visible problem, and that fixing it will lead to many other unforeseen problems that ripple beyond the obvious one.  This is what happened recently.
    My hot water tank developed a leak, and that meant that I had to replace it.  In the meantime we experienced a 30” snowfall, power outages, and -37C temperatures.  That allowed me to briefly put off dealing with the water tank, but eventually, I was forced to bite the bullet and install the new one.  The installation when relatively smoothly, and I seemed to have done it without any leaks, but as always, there were all of those unforeseen problems.
    First problem that arose was in the shower.  For some reason, while the main shower worked really well, the handheld shower wand just dribbled water.  I took the wand end all apart without finding any problem, then tried the hose, which was okay.  Next, thing up the line was the little holder of the wand which also funneled the water through the hose.  It was a three piece unit, and I finally got the water flowing after I took out the middle piece, which didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose other than restrict the flow and threw it away.  I think the small hole in it was clogged.
    Then the plumbing ripple worked its way to our washer.  When Joan did a load of laundry the washer stopped and there was an error number on the display--lack of water.  To solve the problem, I had to crawl under the house and change the water filter.  This I did, but the error message remained.  That meant that the hoses into the washer were probably clogged.  I unscrewed them and sure enough debris was clogging the little screens at the end of the hose.  Once I had them cleaned, the washer worked.
    Next problem was the dishwasher.  It gave us a “Drain or Intake” error.  I assumed it was the drain, since that is often clogged and I periodically have to clean it.  However after cleaning it out, I still got the error, meaning that the problem was the water intake.  I had to clear all of the items out from under the sink before I could deal with the intake hose.  Here again, the little screen at the front of the hose was clogged with little particles from our water.  I carefully pulled out the little screen and cleaned it.  Now the dishwasher works again.
    Now it seems that all of the major appliances that use water are functioning, but the “Hot” water from our new tank isn’t very “Hot,”  its just warm.  I turned up the temperature on the tank a couple of times, but I still suspect there is a problem somewhere--I really hate plumbing.

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Wednesday 10 December 2014

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain

    “Oh, the weather outside is frightful...”
    The startling winter weather we were experiencing is now just a memory, blown away by the mild, windy, and wet weather that has blown in from the Pacific.  All this wind and rain makes me now wish we were back to cold and snow.  
    The thick blanket of snow that was covering everything has been converted into a threadbare, soggy and dirty gray shroud--not very inspiring.  The driveway that I struggled to clear is now a sheet of ice, and I have used up my bucket of gravel, in an attempt to make it passible.
    Looking on the bright side, this horrible weather has enabled us to “test drive” the new raincoat, that Joan ordered for Skye.

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Tuesday 9 December 2014

A Seasonal Solution

    This morning Joan and I faced a dilemma.
    We always have vanilla soy milk on our cereal, and yesterday we finished the carton.  McBride’s only local grocery has not had vanilla soy now for a couple of days, so what was I going to pour over  my morning bowl of cold rolled oats (with flax), prunes, and half a banana?  I have been having the sweeter vanilla soy for so long now, that straight milk seemed like it was going to be pretty harsh.
    Then we remembered the carton of egg nog, that Joan had purchased the other day during a moment of weakness.  Egg nog only shows up around Christmas time, and it seems we always buy a carton.  We wondered if milk, tempered with a bit of the egg nog, might be the solution to our breakfast problem, so we tried it.
    It actually worked pretty well.  It added a bit of thickness and sweetness to the cereal, and was close enough to the taste I usually get from the vanilla soy, that it wasn’t much of an adjustment for my tastebuds.
    Joan will check again at the grocery to see if the vanilla soy has come in, but if it hasn’t, no worries, we have the egg nog. 

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Monday 8 December 2014

Where Can We Walk?

    Joan, Skye, and I try to go for a walk or two every day.  Yesterday was mild and sunny, and we felt the need to get out, but we didn’t really know where we could walk.  This probably seems like an surprising problem to have, living in such a rural setting.  
    The deep snow, though shrinking, is still too deep for walking, so one is pretty much limited to areas that have been plowed.  I hadn’t snowshoed the entire length of our trail, (which I do to prepare the trail for walking) so that couldn’t be walked.  I did snowshoe around the pond and walked around it several times, but the surface of the trail is now very uneven and difficult for Joan, with her hip problem, to walk, so we were in a quandary.
    We thought about going into McBride to walk around the streets, but that probably would cause us to encounter dogs, and Skye is pretty frightened of other dogs, so that was out of the question.  The airfield where we often walk is not plowed during the winter, so that was a no go.  Mountainview Rd, our road, is busy with logging trucks and Albertan pickups towing snowmobiles on trailers.  It has curves, hills, poor visibility. and no shoulders, so that didn’t seem like a very good choice, so finally we decided to try Jervis Road.  
    Jervis Road is a country road east of McBride.  Because it just runs between two fields, is flat, probably had no dogs or traffic, and was plowed, it became our choice.  We drove out there and except for the wind, it was a perfect place for us to walk.  It gave us a wonderful vista of the mountains that jut up on both sides of the Robson Valley.

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Sunday 7 December 2014


    When we had our big snowstorm, the cattails that grew at the end of the pond, were pushed by the wind then buried in the deep snow.  Now warmer temperatures have caused the fluffy snow to shrink, leaving the cattails all leaning at an angle.  As Bob Dylan said in Subterranean Homesick Blues, “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.”

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Saturday 6 December 2014

Deer Dining Spots

    Winter is always hard on deer both because of the increased energy it requires for body heat and mobility, but also because the sources of food becomes very limited.  Our sudden 30 inch (76 cm) dump of snow, late in November, has aggravated the situation.  Our local deer have dug through the deep snow for the fragments of vegetable matter in our compost pile (above) and have also uncovered the snow to get to the small pile of hay I had saved for use in my greenhouse next year (below). 
    The deer have also pushed paths to the bird feeders where they snack on leftover sunflower seeds and peanut butter.
    While I get very frustrated at the damage the deer do to my garden during the summer, I do feel a lot of sympathy for their plight during the winter.  I do not purposely feed them in the winter, but I don’t prevent them from eating what they can find out there.

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Friday 5 December 2014

Slim Creek

    Whenever we have to make the drive up to Prince George, we always make a stop at the Slim Creek Rest Area, to take a stretch, use the facilities, and walk the dog.  Here is a photo of what Slim Creek looked like on Tuesday.

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Thursday 4 December 2014

Lonely Highway

    On Monday I had to make the 217 km (135 mile) trip up to Prince George to pick up Joan who was there for a medical appointment.  Driving from McBride to PG always seems like a long haul, mostly I think because it can seem so monotonous.  You don’t travel through any towns, or even communities.  For the most part, all you see are trees, and cutblocks, where trees had been logged.   In a couple of locations you briefly get glimpses of some mountains, but mostly what you see are trees.
    I experienced very little traffic, except for the odd pickup truck and a handful of transport trucks, which were either riding your tail, impatient to get around you, or slowly crawling up the slopes, bogged down by their heavy loads.  Animals can often be seen along the road, and sometimes on the road, but I didn’t see any.
    Last year,  two local people I knew were killed on Hwy. 16 in individual accidents because of deep  snow on the road and poor highway maintenance.  The government said it was going to increase plowing, and although the road was covered with hard packed snow, at least I found that it was in pretty good shape.
    Still I dislike making the drive up to Prince George during the winter, but doing it seems to be something we end up having to do about once a month.

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Wednesday 3 December 2014

Life in a Small Village--Good and Bad

    Monday, I dedicated the day to taking out my old hot water tank and installing my new one.  As I worked through those activities, I was confronted with both the bad points and good points of living in a very small village.      
    After I got my old tank out, I wanted to put some drywall on the cobwebby naked studs which lined the closet-like space where the water heater sat.  That meant I had to drive into McBride to the hardware store to buy two sheets of drywall.   Since I was going to town, I thought I may as well load my old hot water tank and some old insulation into the back of the truck, and take it to the dump at the same time.
    To carry sheets of drywall in the small bed of my truck, I put in two wooden beams so that the drywall can rest on the beams, rather than the wheel wells that stick up on each side of the truck bed.  Oh, I didn’t mention that the electricity at my house had gone off during the morning as I was removing my old hot water tank.  The electricity has been going off a lot after our big snowfall, but I was hoping that McBride still had power.
    I loaded Skye into the truck cab  (she always likes to have a ride) and we headed off to drop off the old water heater and then get some drywall.
     When I got to the dump, I asked the attendant where I should drop off the old hot water heater.  He told me to put it in the big bin for metal, but then added that I couldn’t do it now because the guy that was plowing the snow had left, leaving the area in front of the metal bin unplowed.   It seems that he also worked for the power company and had to go there when the electricity went off.
    This is one of the disadvantages of living in a small village.  Because there aren’t a whole lot of people who live here, many people do several different jobs.  The guy that was plowing snow also did work for BC Hydro, the corporation that supplies our electricity.  When the power went off, he had to go and help with restoring it.
    So there I was with the hot water heater taking up a big chunk of my truck bed.  How was I going to carry the sheets of drywall back home?  I wasn’t sure, but I headed over to Home Hardware just the same.  When I got there I saw Rico, one of the owners, outside moving things around.  He informed me that the store was closed because they didn’t have any power.
    I sighed, shoulders slumped, as I turned back to my truck, unhappy about my wasted trip to town, but then Rico, came up to my window and asked if it was an emergency.  I told him I was in the middle of installing my hot water heater and so he said he would let me into the store to get what I needed.
    He handed me a flashlight, and I gathered up the plumbing supplies, which were then just written down on a piece of paper.  Rico helped me load up the two sheets of drywall onto the top of my old water tank, rather precariously, but it seemed like it would be alright, so at least I got the supplies I needed to continue my work.
    This was an example of one of the good things about living in a small town--you know, and have personal relationships with most of the other residents--including the store owners, and because of that, they go out of their way to help you out.  Rico didn’t have to open the store for me, but he did.
    I am happy to announce that I was able to get my new hot water tank installed, but the old water heater is still sitting in the back of my truck. 

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