Monday 31 August 2015

Teare Mountain Hike

    Teare Mountain is the peak just to the east of McBride Peak.  The easiest way to access it is to drive up McBride Peak, hike up to the old Forestry Lookout, then follow the trail up, until you get to the stone cairn and take a right.  You then descend into the meadows which you must cross before climbing up to Teare.  
    That was the plan yesterday for the scheduled hike of the Ozalenka Alpine Club, but at 6:00 when I woke up it was pouring rain, and the weather forecast for the day looked grim.  Clouds were obscuring the top of McBride Peak, but 4 of us decided to gamble on the day improving, and made the hike. 
    Up on top the weather was constantly changing, with sunny periods interrupted by low clouds obscuring everything in front of us, very strong winds, and some sleet, but all the changes provided some really nice effects for photographing.  The shot above shows the meadow between McBride Peak and Teare Mountain.  If you are looking at a big monitor, you might just see a very tiny red speck just to the left of the top of the tallest tree in the middle of the foreground.  That tiny speck is Al, it gives you some perspective of just how big the country is up there.
    The golden hues of the alpine contrasted nicely with the blues of the Cariboo Mountains in the distance, on the opposite side of the Robson Valley (Photo below).  At the very bottom is a photo showing a glimpse of the Holmes River drainage from Teare.

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Saturday 29 August 2015

Don't Eat our Cat

    A couple of evenings ago while sitting in the living room watching TV, a dark shape suddenly flew across the window and landed in the aspen tree.  It was a Great Gray Owl.
    “Wow,” I thought, and ran to get my camera.   Camera in hand, I rushed outside, but before I could get it aimed, the owl flew forward and settled above me in our birch tree.
    It was then that I realized that Lucifer our cat was outside, and I had always heard that big owls sometimes kill cats.  While the owl was sitting on the branch, Lucifer, unaware of possible danger, nonchalantly walked out from behind the honeysuckle bush, strolling beneath the owl, and toward me.  I grabbed the cat and put it into the safety of the house then went back to photographing the Great Gray.
    These owls don’t seem to be too concerned about having people around looking at them.  I took pictures of it in the birch, then it flew to the backyard by the garden.  I went up to the balcony where I took the above photo of the owl sitting on the garden fence.
    We have been worried about Lucifer going outside in the evening ever since I saw the owl, but I in an email from a friend, I was informed that while Great Horned Owls do eat cats, the Great Grays just eat mice and other rodents.  That is reassuring because Lucifer sure likes to go outside in the evening and I hate to deny her that pleasure.

    The owl is welcome to all the rodents it can find around here.

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Friday 28 August 2015

No Borders for Smoke

    I mentioned many blogs ago that it seems no matter where there is a forest fire, the Robson Valley gets the smoke.  This has been evident this week when our valley in the Central Interior of British Columbia filled up with smoke from a big forest fire in Washington State.  We are not alone though, I heard on the news that places as far away from us as Calgary Alberta also got it.
    BC is about to experience a deluge of rain from the Pacific, so hopefully it will dampen down some of the fires and clear our air.

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Thursday 27 August 2015

For Three Days Now

    On Monday as we were driving into McBride, I saw this tripod with it’s bowl like instrument sitting on the pull out along Hwy. 16 between the Fraser River Bridge and McBride.  “Oh,” I told myself, “they must be doing some surveying,” since I assumed it was some sort of fancy GPS receiver.  As we drove past it, I looked around for some surveyors, but there was none to be found.
    On Tuesday morning when we again drove to town, the tripod was still sitting lonely beside the highway.  I was a bit surprised that it was just sitting there alone without anyone around.  Tuesday evening as I drove to our jam session, it was still there.
    Wednesday, it was the same story.  I don’t know what is going on, but it sure seems strange to me that something that I assume is fairly expensive instrument is just sitting there alone and unsecured beside the highway.  We haven’t been to town yet today so I don’t know if it is still at its post.

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Wednesday 26 August 2015

Taking the Glaze Off

    Our dog Skye lives to eat.  Every time Joan or I go into the kitchen, Skye interrupts her snoozing, and comes to investigate.  When we leave the kitchen Skye swoops in and hoovers the floor in hopes of finding a crumb of something.  
    The high point of her day (after her actual feeding time) is when I bring the cat’s food dish down to wash it.  Our finicky cat often leaves a crumb or two of food in her dish so I put it on the floor so Skye can have what is left.  By the time I give Skye the dish, the cat’s left overs are hard and crusty, but Skye still goes for it like she hasn’t eaten in weeks.  (I think it gives her a bit of satisfaction knowing that she is eating food that was meant for the cat.)
    I am amazed at how much time Skye spends scouring out the few crumbs in the bowl.  As you can see she even lies down by the bowl as the savors every last molecule of cat food.

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Tuesday 25 August 2015

McBride Gets New Retail Space

    McBride, BC is a small village without even a traffic light.  As you might expect, there aren’t a lot of stores to shop in, so it is big news when new shopping opportunities arise.  Last week we were surprised when we learned that Home Hardware had converted some upstairs apartments into more retail space.  I had never even noticed the staircase that led upstairs, but armed with the knowledge of the store expansion, I eagerly sought out the stairs, and climbed them to see what new items were offered.
   While still a work in progress, the upstairs offers socks, boots, jackets, and workwear, all things that we need in our rural community, that were no longer available in local stores.  I thank Home Hardware for increasing the choices to the Robson Valley residents.

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Monday 24 August 2015

Yesterday's Clouds

    I appreciate a beautiful sky, and yesterday we had a good cloud show for the whole length of the day.  I took the photo above at mid-day and the one below in the evening.

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Sunday 23 August 2015

A Murder at Koeneman Park

    Sorry about the dramatic headline, but a group of crows is called a “murder”, and I have noticed over the last couple of days the feeling of an approaching autumn must have gotten to the crows too, because they have been gathering in preparation for their migration south for the winter.

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Saturday 22 August 2015

Slipping into Autumn

    Already I have noticed subtle changes that inform me that “summer’s lease hath all to short a date,” to quote Shakespeare.  The other day I sensed something, I’m not sure what it was, but it was a hint of fall.  Yesterday we awoke to fresh snow on the mountains, and the weather forecast freezing, and a chance of frost over night.  Fortunately that didn’t happen, but it was just 2C (35F) when we woke up this morning, so a change is in the air.  Hopefully our slide into Autumn it will be very long and drawn out, since the garden still has some growing to do. 

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Friday 21 August 2015

The Pantry Fills

    Even though Joan has to still lean on a crutch when she stands by the stove, she has been busy canning.  She has had three sessions of canning our tomatoes and one session of making her spicy hot pickled beets.  Its always gratifying to have the larder stocked with food for the winter, and I sure appreciate Joan’s efforts.  The pantry not only looks good, it will be the source of a lot of tasty meals when the snow flies.

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Thursday 20 August 2015

Welcoming Grouse

    Yesterday I was just about to pull into our driveway when I saw a welcoming committee of 10 grouse. It was a surprise to see this family all spread around and visible, usually they are all hiding in the vegetation.  It seems they must have had a pretty successful breeding season.
    They are not the smartest birds around and as I slowed to make the turn, they just stood there wondering what to do, so I just advanced very slowly and they did finally figure out that they needed to move out of the way.
    Later in the day, when I had to make another trip I saw different group of 3 grouse standing on Mountainview Road.  I slowed my truck until they slowly walked to the other side.

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Wednesday 19 August 2015

The Farm Store Cat

    I go into The Farm Store about once a month, usually to buy a bag of sunflower seeds for the birds.  As you might expect they sell farm supplies (animal feed, garden seeds, bedding plants, etc) but they also have western and country oriented decorative items and antiques.  I really like the fact that every time I go in there I see the friendly store cat wandering across the counter checking on things.
    Yesterday when I went in, the cat was curled up in a display case.  It seemed pretty content laying there under the heat of the lamp.
    I have always liked the building that the Farm Store occupies.  McBride, BC is a western town and many of its older buildings look western with their false fronts.  Below is a photo of the Farm Store building.

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Tuesday 18 August 2015

McBride Fire Lookout (From Below)

    Normally it is difficult to see the old McBride Peak Fire Lookout from the valley bottom, but the other day when we were walking Skye down the runway at the McBride Airfield, the sun was hitting the lookout building just right and a dark sky behind it made it visible.  The lookout is the white speck on the horizon in the middle of the photo above.  (This was taken with a telephoto lens.)
    You can drive up McBride Peak and park in the sub-alpine, then hike up slope to the lookout.  Distances and slopes are always deceptive from the valley bottom.  I am usually fairly pooped by the time I leave the vehicle and make it up to the lookout.  Once there, you can head out in several directions and either hike in the alpine meadows, or walk along the ridges of the mountains.  
    The vertical photo below shows a more accurate view of how the lookout appears from the valley bottom.  The bales of hay are along the side of the runway of the airfield and the tiny white speck on the horizon is the lookout.

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Monday 17 August 2015

Lobelia Against Begonias

    The other day when I was walking up to the lanai, I noticed these blue lobelias in front of the red begonias in the planter by the sidewalk.  There is something about the combination of blue with red or green with red that really dazzle my eyes.  I think I first noticed this phenomena during my youth while looking at a psychedelic poster.

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Sunday 16 August 2015

Robson Valley Music Festival

    The Robson Valley Music Festival, an annual celebration that takes place at Dunster, BC has been going on for decades, however I am embarrassed to say that yesterday was the first time I actually made the drive out there to experience it.  Through the years they have had some pretty amazing talent perform, but it took a special “invitation” to get me off of my butt and attend.  
    I was asked to help make burgers at a stand raising money (it is still unclear to me whether it was for the Dunster School or the McBride Library).  While many a teenager has spent time making burgers at fast food joints, this was the first time I had to do it for the public.  My job was preparing all the fixing on the bun (fresh lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, whatever was called for).  As always in these kind of situations, their were spans of time when nothing happens, then suddenly there was a deluge of customers and we were scrambling to keep up.
   Usually I have been prevented from going because it occurs over a whole weekend, (causing the problem of what to do with our dog, or the weather is bad.  This year since Joan was going to have to stay home with the dog because of her hip, and since I was only working there for 3 hours, it all fell into place for me. 
    After my shift was over, I did wander around a bit looking at the wares of all the vendors, and walked to see the stage, but felt I had better get back home, so I didn’t really spend time listening to the music.  Now that I have been, I will certainly try to be back and spend more time next year.  It looked fun with lots of friendly people having a good time.

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Saturday 15 August 2015

Garden Rotation

    Many years ago I heard a gardening expert on the radio saying that you should divide your garden into 3 or 4 sections and whatever you plant in each section should be rotated the next year to the next section so that you don’t plant the same things in the same place every year.  I took his message to heart and have been doing that ever since.
    Unlike those serious gardeners who make detailed notes about what varieties they plant, where they plant them, and what their yield is, I am a slacker, so I just stick the seeds in the ground, falsely assuming that I will remember the varieties used and where I planted it.  Unfortunately, I never remember from one year to the next.
    I do, however, manage to take a photo every year of the garden and so that the following year when I am scratching my head trying to remember where I planted everything in order that I can rotate the crops, I can always go back and refer to the photo.   Above is the photo I took for this year.

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Friday 14 August 2015

Snake in the Greenhouse, II

    A month ago I blogged about seeing a garter snake in my greenhouse.  Well, it seems to have taken up residency there because I see it quite frequently, usually sunning itself in the early morning.  I also have to report that I haven’t seen any of the slugs that usually eat my low hanging tomatoes and I assume the snake has been eating them in lieu of rent.
    When I first blogged about the snake, I had to use an old photo of a garter snake because I hadn’t been able to get a picture of the greenhouse snake, but I have a couple of them for you 


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Thursday 13 August 2015


    I didn’t know yesterday, when I wrote about McBride’s Community Garden that we were going to harvest the onions that Joan grew in her box.  We were both surprised just how many onions we got.  That’s them in the photo, hanging to dry. 
    I can’t think of main course food I fix that doesn’t have onions in it.  They seem to be a basic ingredient for the food we prepare in our household.  We used to grow a lot of them in our garden until we inadvertently imported a fungus into our garden that causes onions and garlic to rot.  Since then we have had to buy our onions. 
    This year Joan took advantage of the new community garden and planted some.  It gave us a couple of surprises.  One was how many onions we got (Joan didn’t dedicate the entire box to onions, but we sure got a lot of them from the little space she used.)  The other thing that was a surprise was that the onions she started from seed ended up bigger than the onion “sets” that she bought and planted.

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Wednesday 12 August 2015

McBride's Community Garden

    The community garden in ‘downtown” McBride was started last year.  Through a lot of hard work, generosity, and cooperation of a group of dedicated people, it has become a really beautiful asset to the village.  This was the first time that Joan took a box.  She is growing mostly onions, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put in some morning glories as well (that tall column of growth on the left is her box).

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Tuesday 11 August 2015

McBride Community Pasture

    Last week Wim and Ingeborg, our friends from Belgium who are vacationing in BC, stopped in for a visit.  After a lot of catching up, we drove down Mountainview Road to walk the dogs at the community pasture.  I wasn’t sure how Skye our shy scared dog, would react to Yanna, their rambunctious dog, but it all went well.
    The McBride Community Pasture is an area where members of the Cattlemen’s Association can graze their cows during the summer.  It is a flat wide open area which gives a good view of the sky and mountains.  I was surprised at how many grasshoppers there were in the pasture.  We walked down the trail seeing hundreds of grasshoppers but no cows, then far in the end of the pasture we saw the herd.  The cows must have thought we were bringing them some food and the whole herd walked up to us mooing in hopeful anticipation.  Unfortunately we were a disappointment to them.

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Monday 10 August 2015

Robson Valley Shots

    Life is more difficult, living where we do in the Robson Valley.   We have to do without a lot of conveniences normally readily available to residents in more populated places.  We only have one small grocery store, we have to order a lot of the things we want and need, and it takes forever for them to arrive.  It takes us two and a half hours to get to a city if we want to buy something like clothing, but I put up with it because this is such a beautiful place.
    It was the mountains and the agricultural base that attracted us to McBride and I am still inspired daily by this spectacular valley and the peaks that cradle it.  Here are a couple of photos I took over the last few days.

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Sunday 9 August 2015

Poutine, Real Canadian Food

    Many countries are known for their cuisine.  Italy has its pasta, France has its wine and cheeses, and the US has its hot dogs and burgers.  Well Canada has its traditional foods too.  Canadian back bacon is probably its best known edible, but surely poutine (pronounced “poo teen”) while relatively unknown, is probably claimed by most Canadians as our most unique “Canadian food”.
    Poutine which was created in Quebec is a conglomeration of French fries and cheese curds, all covered over with gravy.  It is a food I have successfully avoided for decades, but lately my defenses have broken down.
    Usually when we go to Prince George for shopping we eat at Costco, generally having one of their turkey-provolone sandwiches.  But a few weeks ago we were there and in need of a bigger meal, Joan, who sometimes indulges in poutine, suggested we add a serving of that to our turkey sandwiches.  We did, and I admit it tasted really good.  So now it seems every time we eat at Costco we also have poutine.
    As you might expect poutine is not the healthiest food on the menu,  but I can rationalize eating it once a month or so, after all, its our national dish.

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Saturday 8 August 2015

Sunset Rain

    BC’s Robson Valley, which is part of the Rocky Mountain Trench along the Alberta/BC border, runs  in a NW/SE configuration.  Because of this orientation, during the long days of summer, the sun sets low at the NW end of the valley, rather than ducking down behind the mountains.  
    Often during showery weather the sideways sunlight creates wonderful effects as the sun sets, illuminating the rain with color and lightly veiling the mountains.  This happened a couple of nights ago, and here are a couple of photos of the effect.

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Friday 7 August 2015

Bear in the Yard

    It is always a treat to see wildlife.  Yesterday, Joan called out from the kitchen, “There’s a bear in the yard.”  It was an adolescent black bear who was very interested in the bird feeder.  It tried several times to get to it by climbing a nearby tree, but the feeder is rigged up with a pulley between two trees and the bear finally got frustrated and left it.  
    Here it is walking past our lanai.  It then turned and walked up the driveway.  
    Bears come into the yard every year, usually in the fall when they are looking to stuff themselves in preparation for the winter hibernation, often we don’t see them, but we know they have been here by the way they trash our few fruit trees.  This one was probably just taking taking inventory of what foods will be available in a future visit.

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Thursday 6 August 2015

A Good Day to Go to Prince George

    Prince George is the urban center that is close to Village of McBride (135 miles, 217km).  We make the trip about once a month to stock up on supplies.  It is not something I look forward to because it means that five hours of the day is spent just driving.  That seems like a waste of a day to me.  
    Yesterday we had to go up to Prince because Joan had a checkup with the doctor that did her hip replacement.  I wasn’t really very eager about going until I woke up.  It was pouring rain in McBride, the radio reception was gone (again) and we had no internet (again).  Suddenly it seemed to me that  making the drive to PG was not such a chore, since there was not much I could do at home.

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Tuesday 4 August 2015

Morning Excitement

    There is nothing like a bit of unexpected excitement in the morning to get the blood flowing.
    This morning Joan and I were doing our normal everyday half-asleep co-ordinated dance through the kitchen as we prepared our breakfast.  Joan, still on crutches, was standing by the corner of the pantry waiting for the odd shaped piece of bread she had put into the toaster to pop up.
    The bread however got caught and didn’t pop up and started blackening on the edges.  This caused our over-sensitive smoke detector to go off.  The loud piercing sound it produced caused our cat Lucifer to suddenly awake in terror.  In her panic to escape, she went streaking through the kitchen headed for the pantry.
    She was able to make the sharp turn into the pantry by getting a good grip with her claws on the top of Joan’s bare foot.
    After rushing to the smoke detector to press the button to silence it, I got the alcohol to tend to Joan’s bleeding scratch.

    After that we went back to making our breakfast.

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Monday 3 August 2015

Walking(?) the Dog

    I’ve known for a while that Skye our dog, is really lazy.  If we would let her she would spend her whole day curled up on the bed (except for feeding time).  It seems she is getting worse.  I think part of it is fear.  She seems really spooked whenever she is outside.  Previously, she would go on walks if I was in front, she was in the middle, and Joan was bringing up the rear behind her.  Now with Joan recouping from her hip replacement, it is only me to protect her--obviously, that is not sufficient.
    Any normal dog would get all excited with the prospect of going for a little walk around the pond, but Skye just plants her butt on the ground and refuses to move despite all of my pleading.  In frustration, I just pick her up and carry her to the pond, and set her down on the path, then she usually relents and follows me around the shore, although today I had to manually push on her rump a bit to get her started.
    What a dog!

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Sunday 2 August 2015

Playing at Dunster

    The little hamlet of Dunster, BC is celebrating its 100th Anniversary Reunion this weekend.  Last March, I was asked if our jam session would play at one of the events.  We jam to have fun just playing music, we really aren’t a “group”, but I said I would ask our members and a few of them said they would do it.
    Yesterday was the day it happened, and I confess I was a bit nervous about “performing” because there were only three of us that I knew would be there:  Len on bass, Eunice with her keyboard, and me, mandolin and guitar (and main singer).  Al did show up with his African drum, so that gave us four.
    They had a little tent set up beside the eating area, to provide us with some shade from the midday sun.  Singing and playing in public is not something I have done in decades.  It felt pretty strange to be there, playing and singing.  When we started I got the thought, “Why am I standing here in front of these people singing?”, but I shouldn’t have worried because we were just background music.  Everyone that came to the reunion were there to visit with friends and acquaintances they hadn’t seen for a long time, so we were not the focus.
    We played hobo songs, bluegrass songs, Tennessee songs, our regular fare.  It was different playing outside, difficult to hear each other, and fighting with the wind that blew our lyric sheets around.
    I had put out the word that we were just a jam session and we welcomed anyone who wanted to join in, but we didn’t have but one taker.  When we started our second “set” we were joined by Lelani (voice and guitar) who often comes to our jam,  but then an unknown guitar slinger from the audience joined us.  He used my electric guitar and was quite good at thinking on his feet and doing leads.
    I came home hoarse and exhausted and without any signed contracts for a musical career.  I am glad that is over, it will be nice just to get back to playing in the McBride Library Annex, with no pressure, just easy going musical fun.

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Saturday 1 August 2015

Living Without Media

    If you read my blog daily, you have noticed that for the last few days there has been nothing to read.  That is because we have been without internet.  (We have also been without CBC radio which I depend on heavily.)  These kind of things happen a lot in our small isolated rural community.  Living without, seems to be part of life around here.
    The power goes off a lot and depending on the cause, can be off for a just a flash or 7 hours, you never know.  Once power to McBride was off for a couple of weeks when a forest fire destroyed a transmission line.  Luckily, that only happened once.
    If you look closely at the photo above, you will see a series of antennae.  It is located on a shoulder of Mt. Lucille.  Those towers provide our community with radio, TV, and internet.  As I understand it, last week a crew was doing maintenance on the dirt road that leads up to the towers, and they inadvertently severed the power cable, thus disabling all those services that we depend on so much.
    Joan and I have made ourselves so dependent on the internet, that when we don’t have it we start pacing the floors.  Secondary to my internet dependency is my CBC radio habit, that I listen to throughout the day, and at night.  When I am not listening to an actual radio, (like when I paint) I listen to CBC streaming through the internet, so you can see how stressful it was to me to suddenly be without.  Fortunately since we have satellite TV which is independent from the towers on the mountain, we still had that to give us our media fix.  
    Our internet and radio went out Tuesday morning.  We struggled through Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday evening as was working on a cartoon, our power when off momentarily, I cursed figuring I had lost all the work I had done, but then realized that the outage probably meant that power had been restored to the towers, and sure enough the radio came back on, but not the internet.
    Friday morning came and went, and we still didn’t have internet.  By Friday night I was a bit pissed off.  We had company and I expressed my disappointment in not have internet back, and was told that the internet was back on.  It wasn’t for me, and after a bit of investigation, I discovered that our WiFi router had turned off and hadn’t come back during the brief electricity outage.  Once I got that going again our internet was restored.
    Last night as I was going to bed I set up my iPad to stream CBC radio as I went to bed.  I was so happy that things were getting back to normal.  Unfortunately, the radio streaming kept cutting off and on.  It got so bad, I finally just gave up turned it off and did without--its all part of rural living.

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