Monday, January 28, 2008

A Cold Shoulder

And a few other parts too. We were up early today as I had to prepare for some remote support sessions. I dial in to my customers' computers and update their software.

It felt a little cold this morning. Colder when I looked at the coldometer. -37 in Fraser Lake, but only a balmy -32 here.We loaded the furnace before bed last night and it was still going this morning at 6:30. Enough that we could just throw some logs in to warm the joint up.

Sometime today I have to make the trek up to Grandma's to make sure the space heaters are on so the water doesn't freeze up. Seems to happen around -30 or so.

Really a good day for some office work.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Willow Cathedral

This is the quick and easy way to get wood for the furnace. With reports coming in of -35 next week I decided it was prudent to stock up the wood pile. Fortunately my brother Tom has a pile of logs that have been prepped for building log homes but have defects on them. Perfect for burning. Dry, no bark. He just holds them up with the skid steer and I can walk along the log cutting it at a convenient height. A mechanized saw horse. Loading a couple of cords of wood up into a pickup truck by hand is a lot of lifting. Scooping it up with the skid steer bucket and me lifting it down into the pickup is about 1000 % easier, and faster. ( Viki..do you recognize the truck?)

When I get it back to our house it's just a matter of using a pickaroon to slide the wood out of the back of the truck and put it next to the basement door. Where it's handy to the wood splitter and sheltered storage.

As easy as this was compared to doing it all by hand, never the less, at the end of the day my back and arms were definitely feeling it. As I got into the house and sat down with a groan, Jo-Ann reaching for the robaxaset to stifle my whining, the phone rang - it was my friend, Chief Joseph, inviting me for a sweat in his newly constructed sweat lodge. It was -20 outside and wonderfully hot inside. After 30 grandfathers ( the red hot rocks) in six rounds of prayers, in an atmosphere suffused with healing herbs and cedar tips We emerged mellowed and refreshed. So much spirituality in a cathedral of willow and old blankets. And then we were off to our regular Thursday night meeting.

I slept like a baby.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Skid Steer


a buddy of mine asked me to post a picture of "the Skid steer" so here it is. It is a Case skid steer, model 1845. It dates from about 1980. An old girl ( as skid steers go..) starting often requires prayer. She leaks hydraulic fluid, is noisy as all get out, the controls jump all over the place, -- but she makes the difference of being able to get around the place without snow shoes, and every time I get her running I pause for a moment of gratitude. She has a clamshell bucket that opens and closes and we replaced the cutting edge last summer. My brother, Tiny, has a brand new cat version and the old skid steer can do some things easier. Like "back blading", where I tilt the blade almost vertically and use it to scrape a surface smooth while I drive backward.

In the winter time I keep her safely ensconced in the garage with a trickle charger and block heater plugged in.

Clearing the whole yard takes a couple of hours. Three if I do the driveway so the grader doesn't have a problem getting up the hills. After a couple of hours on the skid steer I usually need a cup of ginger tea to settle my notoriously motion sickness prone stomach.

I think she deserves a name, and Zelda, comes to mind.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's the little things.

My brain was busy working on a database problem today so I sent it off to work on the problem while I did some projects. Sometimes my brain likes it that way - I think I just get in its way.
I fired up the skid steer and cleared around the chicken run so that I could change the straw in the runs and coop. The chickens sure seem to like fresh straw to strut on. And left-over spaghetti. Any kind of carbs actually.

Then I trudged down to the basement to re-locate the wood pile. One of those little things. When we moved here I built a temporary shop in the basement because the shop I wanted to use was full of the previous tenants stuff. That's a whole 'nother topic. Anyway because of that when I put an inside wood rack in I had to put it on the wrong side of the outside basement door. It was behind the door and when the door was open you couldn't get to the wood inside. So it made getting the wood quite a tedious operation. Go outside, get some wood, wrangle the door open, throw it in the basement, close the door and restack it. And I put up with it for a year. The solution was simple. As they often are: move the wood rack. Bingo! After about two hours of reshuffling stuff I can use a wheel barrow to bring the wood in. It has to be about fifty times faster.

The point is I think it's a metaphor. How many times do I let little problems keep sucking energy out of all proportion to their size. I think it has something to do with the human condition generally. A little pain for a long time can make a mountain of a headache - and we condition ourselves to put up with the headache, just one of those things we should do something about sometime.
Well I think my brain is having fun. I'll check in with it tomorrow if I'm not getting wood from Toms.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kung Fu Fighting

No animals were injured during the taking of these pictures:

Cat: "ah yor DogFu style is no match for my CatPaw technique. Dog: Yow! watch the eyes!
Dog: " Let's see how good your Cat paw technique is with only one paw.
Both: " OK that was fun, but right now time for a nap...
Xena (the wonder dog) and his Pal Ewe, spend a lot of time daily in these mock fights. No harm done to either. Just having fun playing. And napping.

Sounds like a recipe for a happy life.




Saturday, January 12, 2008

Staff of Life


I have this dream of being able to provide all our vegetables, beef, pork, chicken and eggs that we would need. So far we have the eggs and beef taken care of. Come spring I want to try some porkers and meat chickens. I was explaining this dream to our friend Audrey when we were at her place. I was telling her about a movement - the 100 mile diet whose premise is to grow or buy locally - within a 100 miles of your home. I was saying that most staples can be purchased locally but the hard thing was to find wheat to make flour. She opened up a sack she had, poured some hard whole unground red winter wheat into a food processor and made us enough flour for four loaves of bread. Jo-Ann has been experimenting with whole wheat flours. What a bread this flour made! Sweet with local honey, nutty flavoured, nutritious , filling stuff. Now we are on a mission to locate a source of whole unground wheat. Preferably- red winter wheat. A local feed store sales 50 lb bags for $12.40. But I don't know where it fits in the 100 mile footprint. OK I do - it isn't around here. Maybe I'll try an acre of wheat this summer. Tuesday or so next week we'll make a trip to Burns Lake and see what kind of bread we can make from it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Frosted

Again. Warmed up and then cooled down. We were in thick white Ice Crystal fog until mid afternoon when the sun managed to burn some of it away. I can usually count on the day being nice when I am stuck in the office. I am working on a new upgrade for our program and contending with a cat (Ewe) who insists on swatting at the mouse cursor as it moves around the screen.
This is a picture of the bug killed pine at the side of our upper driveway. Looks pretty nice with the hoar frost on it. It's dead and I suppose I should cut it down for firewood but a Faller friend of mine pointed out that you don't really want to do that when it's this covered with frost. Something about getting buried in snow if you have to wedge the tree over.
One of the Solar powered lanterns that sit on the ledge on our front balconey. Or is it a veranda.? I can never get those straight.