Sunday, December 23, 2007

Those French Canadian pie makers are at it!

The calm before the storm. The eldest will be here shortly and then we'll have the three of the girls together at home again. I hope she's healthy. I'm down with a cold and have been fighting it for a week. Boo and Snoot are slumped on hormones. Mamie and PU are on fire. Today it's tourtière!

I cut and ground the venison this morning and then made myself a broth from the bones for lunch. I don't think I could have tourtière too often. Years of begging have finally produced some of this stout sustenance. Like fish for breakfast I crave this some mornings where there is likely to be a lot of physical work done before lunch.

Now if I could just stop blowing my nose and clearing my throat long enough not to look like some kind of wounded deer killer I'd make good on some wood cutting.

Snow removal and fitness levels to be grateful for

Snow blowers die. Life's like that sometimes. The snow gods could care less. The scoop was in use for more than two hours last night. It's lonely at the bottom. It was still snowing this morning. Now it's just all about the cold arctic front and those ever popular winter high pressure domes. The chickens still squeezed out four eggs. Tomorrow spells new belts for the old girl and then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! HoHoHo
Mr. Aerobic Engine

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My folks are off to my brother's sea bound retreat. I shovel light fluffy snow with kids squealing. Not little squeals and not little kids. I'm grateful.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mars video

Mars is a wickedly unrewarding subject for those interested in amateur astronomy. The atmosphere is a fickle and capricious foe. The dust storms on the surface of Mars can add to the frustration of trying to see the subtle details offered up by the red planet.

However it will be a good long while before we get any better chance to test our skills in finding some detail to ponder than right now. It's close to us! So grab your chance and find a telescope near you soon if you need this sort of thrill.

I saw a link to this short download animation of Mars rotating and thought it would help in keeping me motivated to haul the scope outside in the wind and cold that is our winter in The Great White North.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hemingway on moving on

I've been enjoying literaryquotes@lj as they come by. Watching my children grow and my immediate family scale various feats of diplomacy, or not, I'm sometimes pained by the weight of the negative. OK, that's a lie. I'm often pained by that weight.

Hemingway came along to reassure me last night.
"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." -Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

drycleaning wool?

I was looking at a new find on the web for shopping and I found this, which is not my first choice by the by.

Why would they suggest that you dry clean it if it's wool? Is Bernat wool somehow special in it's properties that makes standard cleaning methods damaging to garments made of this type of wool?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Update before Christmas

It's not that life isn't busy or anything. I do like to post here. I have brothers that actually know what busy means, but I'm not often effective enough to qualify as actually busy. This fall has been filled with productivity and that's not a bad thing. I'll pick up parts tomorrow and clean up the last of the paying work. I can't believe the back log is completely cleared up.

The fall was so gentle and easy to live with as far was weather is concerned. It was very late in November before ice was covering the local livestock dugouts, but when the cold weather came it came hard and it came fast. It's maybe a prairie thing to be so aware of the weather. We spend a lot of time outside so it seems that it's as important as any of the other pressures of life.

It feels luxurious to squander time in writing an update here. Blizzard conditions this morning kept Manon and PU home. PU of course tried her best to attend her conference, but every other sane soul involved had abandoned the cause and then the principal phoned and instructed her to stay put. Delores is such a team player.

Before I snapped a belt on the snow blower I emptied a tank of fuel onto the ground via a breech in the fuel line. Fortunately I was almost finished the job at hand and spent a scant 15 minutes behind the snow scoop. I would bet there are quite a few reading here that couldn't identify a snow scoop if their lives depended on it. :D

I've been solidifying my training goals for the coming couple of months. I intend to make a concerted effort to better my half marathon time with a lot more high intensity work. After my first couple years of running, I determined that if I could break the two hour mark on a half marathon I would tackle a full. So far I have not come close to having to make good on that threat so an idle threat it remains. I've spent quite a bit of my reading time allotment studying the latest habits of some serious distance runners. A good number of my friends from use the coaching services of Mike Booth's company, Endurance Matters. I wish I could feel that affording such luxury could pass muster, but maybe if I mind my manners... Dwayne Sandall got me into the Polar Bear run last year and he's been a thorn in many a side throughout the running community. His account of the run across the lake got me hooked. He coaches for Endurance Matters and the Holiday season party at Natalie and his new home was great fun last week. I didn't get home until 2:00, but life could be worse.

So training is eating away at my thought process in a big way. I went for a massage last weekend in an attempt to address some of the minor aches and pains that come along with the aging process. The young woman was known to me from the time she was a young one in 4H. She's had several years of schooling and practice now and she did not disappoint me in her ability to influence my body in good and short order. I just wish she was closer. Cathrine Dyck has found a work that she's able to shine with. I'll have to cut my desires back and find something locally though. I have an appointment with a woman in St. Pierre on Monday after I see the sea hag that passes for a family physician here. Rate an MD is an informative site. Check my commentary from October for Wassef in St. Pierre for a peek my skill set in fence sitting 101.

The good news is that my neck and upper back are much improved already. Best of all I'm not waking early due to upper back tension. Rest for training recovery is key to advancing much on what I've managed to train for previously so this extra sleep is a step in the right direction. The Christmas baking is another matter all together. PU used my Dad's tried and true whipping of fat and sugar for the traditional short bread this year and life could not be sweeter.

Today I wrote an article for the MHS newsletter about one of our more prominent breeders, Ruth Hanney. The afternoon was spent outside. I might have to cut some wood soon. If this wicked weather keeps up we'll be out of wood in no time. Funny the things you think about while you clear snow. The chickens are not producing. I've changed feed and it's been ground too finely and the birds are not interested in the majority of it as powder. The feed was a good price, but it was really aimed at the hog industry and certainly not layer chickens. Live and learn I suppose. Or is that lose your money learn to lose?

Last weekend I enjoyed a brief but thorough hands on introductory workshop on collimating Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. Mine is a newtonian, but hey, I learnt to star test from an expert. There are so many more variables with mine, but it's a whole lot more tolerant of error of alignment so it all balances out eventually. I've been toying with the idea of springing for a couple of good eye pieces so I want to ensure the alignment is as good as it can be so my judgement of my current eye pieces is as honest as it can be. Tonight might be a good time to do a field test instead of using the round holiday tree ornament in the basement trick. The wind chill by morning is supposed to be down to -44C. I'd best get cracking. Or maybe just stay close to the fire? "Do not go gently into that good night...."

Tomorrow is the peak of the best of the meteor showers of the year, the Geminid's. Here's a fireball captured on video that's part of the build up.

I was talking to another enthusiast of astronomy this week. He was describing, with all animation settings on high, the details of his plans to put to work a small catalytic heater of recent garage sale thriftiness on his part, under a lawn chair and cover to watch the shower. This was the same guy that talked me into testing our camping strengths at -22C one winter long ago. I'm such a sucker!

If you need a 32T 1" diametrical pitch gear on short notice because you ripped a third of the teeth out of the one in your main spring winder, talk to Roman at in Winnipeg. He's got that small order thing all figured out.

If you have to know what time it is and I don't mean maybe, this would be your source.

If all goes well, we'll have our Boo home for dinner tomorrow night. She's sure to enjoy a bit of wood cutting!
Cheers all. I hope your holiday season is gearing up to be a good one.