Saturday, December 20, 2008

weather and astronomy

I spent 2.5 hours today moving snow by hand. The wind chill was -42C or something like that. The snow was still coming down, but not very heavily. I have been having regular reports from the the west coast of BC that they are experiencing an unusually close contact with winter.

I've read two reports recently about astronomical goofy bits and can't help wondering if I'll be able to connect any of the dots to link their influence with something I might observe in the environment.

NASA: Ionosphere not where it should be
Here is the one I read today. It sure got me thinking.

Biggest Breach Of Earth's Solar Storm Shield Discovered
Here's the other one I was curious about.

tracking the sun

Analemma Over the Porch of Maidens. My executive functions aren't exactly up to par so this kind of thing entertains me endlessly.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

-22C and balmy

It was a beautiful fall here and we love to talk and think about weather so here I am doing so with others that might not be as enthused.

In the winter of 1994/95 the ground was frozen solid on the October 15. I think this was the year we saw -50C which was new to me. Cars don't work so well then and make noises I can't even describe.

This year we were still in the arms of fall at the end of November and then, like a steel door slamming shut, the cold slid down from the north and reminded us all how it should on the prairie in winter.

For the better part of two weeks we've had night time lows dipping down into the low -30C range and if we were lucky the day time highs would climb to -27C and the wind chill factor often took those temperatures down to -45C.

Yesterday the wind was down to almost nothing and the temperature was up to -21C.

One of the greatest pleasures in life, for me at least, is when I've adapted to the cold and a -21C day can feel balmy and mild. By three o'clock yesterday afternoon I couldn't stay working for the call of the sunshine outside and took an hour to go for a run.

Now I'm thinking we should have a winter camp. It would be nice to have somewhere out of the wind to light a fire and maybe even sleep over in the dead of winter. A friend has a camp in the Canadian shield three hours east of Winnipeg back off the beaten track overlooking a remote lake. It takes him forty five minutes to walk in after a long drive. He's got a canvas tent with an asbestos ring for a chimney from a tin stove to exhaust with three logs stacked cabin style to secure a good seal on the tent.

It's all brilliant, but I'd prefer to ski or snowshoe in and avoid the driving all together. There is a perfect place over looking the river here, but how to find the time when one is already so ineffective with those management skills!

One step at a time... dreaming on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

hollaback clip on current tv I'm still thrilled by this. I think PU is going to take this into school. I married so well!

Monday, December 15, 2008 Holla Back

I hope this hits the mainstream where women can begin the uphill battle to take back some of what's been lost to leering men.

I caught a short documentary piece on tonight on the current tv channel.

I think it's a brilliant idea, but what do I know. I'm a guy.

I see Toronto has it's own affiliate site and there is also a Canadian site for the rest of us, but I didn't see a single image posted to the Canadian site. What a shame!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Medea - heart on sleeve

Letter to a friend about the current MTC main stage production of Medea.

Brilliant seats P. Thanks for offering up the invitation. When Pierrette and I were first together we had a few seasons of PTE before it's move to it's current locale.

I was weaned on small theatre in Vancouver and maybe that's why I never followed PTE to the new and improved venue. In younger years I felt no hesitation in writing directly to the staff of productions to engage directly. Such an ego! I find myself a bit shy speaking openly here. Please understand I know nothing and will stand for correction, modification and a willingness to roll over, put my tail between my legs, avert my vision and learn humility at the hand of the wise at any point.

In smaller and less wealthy companies the willingness to risk, brings with it seemingly more variation in the successes and failures from a given troupe. If the artistic director is on her game one can enjoy a lot of high points that may not be available where risk management may be more conservative. Reading over the short biographical notes on the key players in this production, I was struck by the vast experience, education and obvious commitment to their craft. I'm a generalist and thus an expert at precious little. I was though, a bit thrilled to think that I was about to witness such a rich field of players in Medea. I must still be growing up.

Since moving to the hinterland and embracing what mother nature brings to the stage in her taste of beauty and tragedy, I've not hungered for live theatre like I did before we moved out of the city. Over the last few years, I've begun to want more contact with live music, independent film and the company of others that have a passion for things other than drinking, all terrain vehicles, fornication and snow machines.

I was surprised when the lights came up for the break. I had been lost in the performance and I sat through intermission thinking and trying to absorb what I'd seen.

I have a natural and undeniable bias toward women in many things, but I loved Nigel Bennett as Creon. He fills a room that boy. There was a heightened sharpness to his portrayal of Creon that I felt lacking in some of the others. He was never so comfortable as to seem relaxed in his characters duties. Nigel struck me as the consummate professional.

Lindsay Buchanan-Clarke lived in my mind as an old crone. I was taken aback to see her youthful image in the "artists" list. I bit into her acting, hook, line and sinker.

I liked Kyra Harper's voice. The timbre and pitch were such that it was effortless to catch some of the more subtle nuance in her presentation. This idea lead me to wonder about the hall itself, or my aging ears, in how sound plays with the set and whether or not the voices of the players are assisted electronically. Whatever the case, I don't think I care for that particular room. The voices seemed clipped in their range and oddly, but closely echoed. By the end of the evening the sound was an irritation.

Claire Jullien was a distraction and I don't even like blondes. Enough said.

Although the tickets landed us in good seats, I could not have been too close to Seana's efforts. Like Bennett, she was so obviously above and beyond the audience in her commitment to this play. I would pay to see her again from the middle of the lower, centre of the theatre. She's a very big presence in a small package.

Not being a theatre person, I have little appreciation of Miles influence over this work. The task must be a bit daunting given that the work has been around for big chunk of 2500 years. I'd like to read Jeffers script now while this play is fresh in my head and heart. I wish I knew more about the captain's duties.

It seems a rare treat that such a woeful tale be spun for us on the main stage. I can see why, when the audience appreciation was revealed in light applause and an immediate departure as if we all collectively had to support a nicotine habit directly after the final bows. I couldn't help but think the actors and staff would feel that mass distaste for things unpleasant through the lack of crowd enthusiasm. For me it contains the risk factor I so love in the best of fine arts.

Thanks again sharing the wealth.

Sometime I'd love to hear your input on the acoustics of that theatre in as much detail as you care to go into. Over a beer and some tasty bits would be best for me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quote of the day and unremarkable news

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss

I've been filling myself full of tattoo ideas. I can't grow up so quit asking.

Finally got my guitar tuned in after ten years of use. Daryl and I shared Dim Sum and some catch up style conversation. Hopefully we'll get together soon and do some winter camping in the northern shield east northeast of home about three hours. Daryl hasn't had a camp set up for ten years or so, but he's turning over a new leaf I guess.

He sure made a difference with my guitar. He called the problem "the ten year creep". The neck and bridge pull toward each other and move from the stress of being strung tightly together. I knew that it changed things like scale length and the height of the strings over the fret board, but I didn't appreciate how much those changes affected my experience. Intonation is not just a theory anymore.

He lowered the saddle, crowned the frets, checked the G string through the nut, adjusted the neck and made my day.

Tuning was a dream when I sat down to play last night. It played like an electric with the action now lowered by about a third. He crowned the frets too so no more troughs of wear to contend with.

Boo is working full time at Roseau Valley as an EA and being recruited for a full time teaching position there once she graduates. The principal there used to work as the division's behavioral specialist and was a key component in moving the mountain that is the administration at our girls school to better accommodate Snoot's predictable ADHD ways.

No time to write, but I miss it. I miss running too. I can't seem to settle back into a routine and on days like today the weather isn't helping ease me back toward that routine. I'm glad I'm not driving today. I hope Boo and PU get home without incident. Blowing snow is never fun.

Feed those dogs and chickens!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Real men making buns

Gads I love food. My bread making has come along very well I think with a little mentor ship from Mum. The buns are delicious!

First attempt at making buns - panned back


Full pixel crop


Saturday, November 15, 2008


Managed to squeeze another stint of an hour or more at Long & McQuade today. Snoot is getting right into playing guitar.

She's insatiable when it comes to playing just now. Normally her tolerance for hanging around a store for an hour, with nothing specific to do, would drive her mad, but not so with a music store filled with hundreds of guitars one can play. I was just as happy to be there, but maybe that goes without saying.

We got to kill an hour there after a dental appointment earlier in the week and then we were back at it today. The earlier trip yielded a strap for Snoot's dreadnaught. She's in love with it. It's a Japanese plywood top Suzuki that M&P bought me when I was in grade six... 1971? It's been played quite a bit and rebuilt once in about 1995 or so. It was major surgery then, but M&P's money has been secured well enough for the $75 Mr. Grazley helped invest. Was his first name John?

It's funny that we can hang out and play a lot of guitars at L&Mc and then come home and that old Suzuki of hers comes up smelling like roses. It's not a perfect scale length anymore, but it's quite workable. I expect that all the use has helped it's component parts to cooperate and it shows up in the warm tone. That, combined with the durability of a laminated top, has been quite a good value all in all.

I can't believe that Suzuki are still at it!

Mum took this when she was out.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Wonderful words

I love words.

"A black shadow dropped down into the circle. It was Bagheera the Black Panther, inky black all over, but with the panther markings showing up in certain lights like the pattern of watered silk. Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down."

~ Kipling. The Jungle Book.

I came across this quote today and it reminded me of the high quality of the phrasing in Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I'm not done reading it yet, but I'll still recommend it. I'm already sorry that's it isn't thousands of pages longer. I should probably read some criticism of it before I go off on a gush here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

22km race photos

Photos from the trail. I haven't run since which has been great. I love the cycles of training. I trained hard for the 22km race and I'm looking forward to a winter with not so much running, but a lot of activity outside. I've got my sights firmly set on the Manitoba half marry next Fathers day. I haven't set down the dates to begin training for that yet, but I should do that soon and have it out of the way. I'd like to have the start date in mind all winter. This 22km run was very good for me. I was quite strong, rebounded very well I think and am looking forward to a run on Sunday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

22km Trail Race #5

I raced the whole series! Yesterday's time: 2:26:07 11/12 in my age group I thought it was maybe a bit too ambitious when I signed up, but it's over now and apparently it was within my grasp. It's been a very productive summer as summers go and to have this series under my belt represents a significant victory in goal setting for me. Five years I've been running now and I'm still healthy and strong. Time is a real bottle neck! Once free of that the possibilities are endless, but I think that requires the big grass sleep so I'll try not to rush it.

The results page:

I was very happy with my results yesterday. 22km is a long way to run on trails for me. I finished a lot faster than I expected, but I did prepare as if I intended to race and not just run. I finished in 2:26:07, but it might have gone on to a 2:40:00 type finish easily enough. Mentally I could have been a little more serious about testing my training, but it's a social day for for me mostly or at least it was for me.

Not quite all the ducks were lined up yesterday morning, but by the half way mark it was clear I had plenty left in the tank to pick up the pace and I did. When I mistakenly went back to check on a friend, I realized that I was going to have to claw back that missing time to catch back up, give up on that goal and look at the remainder of the day as a training run. That decision was made almost instantly. I caught up to my friend in one km then spent two catching my breath and reeling in my pace before I went ahead on my own to finish the last six kilometers. I passed a few people that were suffering, but I was on a mission and frankly I was not suffering anywhere in particular so much as everywhere. I should try and get more training into my thighs, but they have the toughest time recovering from the speed work or long distance runs. More varialbles to play with I suppose.

My feet are too weird to allow me to comfortably run through big stretches of muddy water in all but the late stages of a race. I have better feet for Karate than for running. The pressure points are concentrated into very high load zones that I've come to respect. Wet sloppy food wear and sock makes me thing of blister damage to often.

The details of the the split times (click on "laps"):

The game of attending to the various physiological systems in training and then testing those estimates is endlessly entertaining to me. The body and mind are the ultimate in complicated machinery. That I can comprehend and influence them at all seems like magic when it comes together like it does more often than not in a favourable way.

I trained hard for the last six weeks with the incorporation of some very intentional speed work. Mostly tempo and strides, but in the last week specifically I ran various race paces of much shorter distances trying to keep my intensity up while dropping my mileage while I tapered for this 22km race on Saturday.

The taper was strange. I had so much energy it was difficult to get to bed at night and that wasn't best and defeated some of the gains available, but I do so love to touch the dials and play with the variables. This was the strongest taper experience yet. I can't imagine how people stay sane tapering after marathon training. It must leave one a bit mad really.

I have my sights set on a two hour half marathon next June. It should be within range. One of the things that's worked very well this summer is keeping a consistent schedule without becoming ill or injured. Taking time off for a cold or flu really crimps the plans and I avoided that through, for me, what was very intense training.

I'm so jacked up about this as one might be able to tell from my little gushing here. The other night I thought my heart rate as a little on the low side so I checked and it was down to 45/minute. Now if I could just replace a bit of fat with muscle I'd be in even better shape. It's too easy for me to enjoy a bit of a carbo binge for that to happen easily though. Ice cream and junk food anyone? On the bright side I used to drink like a fish and smoke like a chimney and that's not happening any more! It could be worse.

Those that don't run seem to struggle about why one would do this type of thing if there is now chance of winning. The answer is because it's about competing against one's own limits. Genetically and socially we come from different places and yet the fast ones genetically are up against the same trouble shooting guides that limit those of lesser talents. It's humbling to take your plan and then show up to test it against a time in public where people know what you're expected to do.

Art for arts sake. Wish I had a coach that specialized in old slow guys.

Now I'll take a couple of weeks off of running and enjoy the last of the fall and get back to cutting wood and working on the house and in the shop more.

I planted 3kg of garlic today and my legs were trembling. I ran stairs to get laundry done. It was bedding day wouldn't you know! I must rest, but know you are loved.
Wee Juan

Thursday, October 2, 2008

found milk snake

This little escape artist is an Honduran milk snake. It's fall here and as I was moving boxes in search of antiquated tooling and parts, I looked down upon 2% and my jaw dropped open. She's been missing from a building that's a hundred meters from the grainery where I found here. I suppose she was tucked into her winter space trying to grab what mass she could to support her bid to keep from freezing solid in our winters. She would have lost that bid I'm quite certain, had I not found her waiting for me deep in the box pile.

2% went missing on May 5 2008. She's not under weight, but she's a little jumpy when I handle her.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

John Gardner quote

cmongirl@lj wrote in literaryquotes@lj:

When I was a child I truly loved:
Unthinking love as calm and deep
As the North Sea. But I have lived,
and now I do not sleep.

-John Gardner in Grendel

Broad awareness is painful. Today as I think about my brothers and parents I am struggling to recoup some strength from a long night. Ignorance is bliss.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Try a Trail #4

I had a pretty good run today. I mean to say that it was joyous. The type of run where expectations are at the very lowest ebb and the results are humble and honest.

The trail was fragrant with the scent of ripe berries for the entire distance. Everything was moist and redolent with the smells of coming fall. The poison ivy was all turning colour. It was spectacularly beautiful to be out in the forest today.

The official results page is not posted yet, but I dedicated my race today to coming in last. I don't know how many were in the field today, but it is getting thinner every race. I think there were fifteen men. I ran with a long time runner and triathlete at the very back and ensured that she crossed the finish line ahead of me after an hour and thirty seven minutes of running.

I was still shaken or rather am still shaken by the demands of the concrete dust and the resulting sore body parts from the assault on the basement rock wall. It was a cool lightly overcast day where the trail was not too muddy and the dew was still on the grass. It was a brilliant day for a run and I ran the entire thing aerobically or very comfortably at least.

I've noticed others at races accompanying slower runners to encourage them so I figured I could accompany M and know both our days would be better for the effort. We didn't talk constantly, but we did have some fun along the way. M stopped at the first water station for an outhouse break and I hung around and waited the few minutes it took to get back in gear. It was a relaxed day without many expectations and as usual it was a great way to go.

The irony is that at 1:37:15 for 13.8km I was at the same pace as the last race, but two kilometers farther and a very low perceived effort. #3 in the series was brutally demanding and today's #4 was a cake walk at the same pace over the same type of terrain. The mind is a wild thing. Perception is an odd game. Expectations are potent guides to success and failure.

I took no water or food for the run and managed very well on a heavy breakfast in the wee hours and again with the group at the ranch house after the run. They were kind enough to wait until ten minutes before we slow pokes came in to begin to serve so we got to enjoy our visit afterward too. Dwayne is getting the hang of this race director position very well I think.

Pam had a great race to finish second in the women by seconds and first in her age category. Steve did well too, but I'm not sure if he was second or third overall. Happy faces all round the table this time. Last time was a little less enthusiastic for many of the people I knew there. Weird how the stars align for that type of thing.

Anyway it was good fun and I'm hoping to be in good shape to finish up the series on October 18 with a good showing again. What a great thing it is to be alive.
Be well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

literary quote prize

I saw this from literaryquotes@lj in my blur tonight after a big run today and thought it brilliant.

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje.
"Only the best art can order the chaotic tumble of events. Only the best can realign chaos to suggest both the chaos and the order it will become.

Within two years of 1066, work began on the Bayeux Tapestry, Constantin the African brought Greek medicine to the western world. The chaos and tumble of events. The first sentence of every novel should be: "Trust me, this will take time, but there is order here, very faint, very human." Meander if you want to get to town."

Friday, September 12, 2008

More trail racing thoughts about being slow

More jawing about being slow on the trail races and self talk about being responsible!

It wasn't much of a race for me the third time out and I don't expect that this coming weekend and race number four will be anything much to write about either. I've been dreaming in longer cycles which is why I have enjoyed the running game so much.

My nature is one surrounded by impulsive action and the resulting regrets that often come with that style. In order not to get injured and to observe some improvement I've been required to engage forethought. Radical ideas abound. After the Manitoba half mary which I was very pleased with I went back to base building and thought I could accept the trail races being slower. As it turns out my ego isn't that stout.

Granted the field is hard core and has thinned to an even more dedicated trail enthusiasts series since the beginning of the summer, but still I'm finding it tough to be at the back of the pack. Worse still is when I crunched up the numbers and everyone else showed improved paces except little old, balding, less than lean and mean, me. I knew this would be the case, but it's still proving more difficult than I imagined.

If one does not train with speed one does not get faster. By building a broader base I aim to challenge a two hour half mary next June. It's only with a big broad base that one best exploits the speed work, but it blows to get slower! I'm having serious issues imagining the 22km run in October and having to run what will likely be a big chunk of 2:45 with the emergency clean up crew on mountain bikes following me the whole way.

Saturday is race number four and will be 14km. I'm still doing a lot of aerobic miles in training, but Tuesday I opened up the pipes a bit and saw some small nine minute miles where an aerobic mile for me would be run in 11:40 or so. Let it go... let it go... let it go...

I'm going to set my sights on a twelve or sixteen week program in the spring to try and shave off a whopping thirty seconds a mile and break two hours for the half marathon. I won't run a full until I break two hours for the half. I'll likely want to break an hour for a 10km too sometime next year too if not sooner. One has to have goals.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

hammer drilling

It looks like I spoke too soon on Mum coming out for a visit. I'll likely head out there in early October and try and remain content with that. The penalty of not having big pails of money is that I can't just make the changes I want. Every form of refuge has it's price as the saying goes.

This little gem was what put me to the test today.


I worked at the bench most of the morning then headed out to do some running around and then back to meet the plumber for 15:00 at the house. I gave this guy a lot of lead time to schedule this job into his summer and he didn't get to it so now I'm playing the nagging wife and hounding his butt to get this job moving. I hate playing that role.

I need to have all the plumbing moved away from the exterior basement walls so I can insulate them. We aren't allowed to put flax bales around the house anymore. The insurance company freaks out about the fire risk. Actuaries are not realists, just good betters. I prefer to play the odds and remain awake. *@^*& happens and I'll go with the flow. It's not like managing the bales was much fun anyway and I won't miss them.

I offered to help speed the plumbing job up by drilling the necessary two holes through the 15cm-20cm central foundation wall. Once I had the commitment from the plumber to meet me this afternoon, I thought I'd get good currency out of having the tool to do the job in hand while he was there and I was right. We start on Monday, but the jury remains in deliberation. Save me from optimism.

I got my six mile run in at lunch and made sure I went only as fast as I could remain aerobic and managed to remain on task there which was good. After the ever long winded plumber departed I got a call to say PU would be buying groceries on the way home and would be late so not to make dinner. I took the opportunity to dig into the brand new thousand dollar hammer drill I had just rented for twenty bucks. I've used weenie type hammer drills before and I won't ever take on heavy work like that again without as big a tool as I can lift and for the little money it cost to rent, why would I?

The rub is that the concrete is some of the best I've ever seen. It was likely poured and mixed by hand in 1950 or 51 and remains rock solid. One of the cheats they used to limit the amount of concrete required was to fill the walls with field stones. None of them show from the outside, but once you begin drilling there is often not more than a few inches between boulders. I knew this from the last time I had to drill through the central wall when the plumbing went in initially so I was mentally prepared for a fight. Whatever this rock pictured above is was a whole new ball game to me though and a fight it was.

The first and largest hole got drilled out first and the inevitable pink granite bolder showed up for half of where I wanted the hole through the wall to be. I drilled four holes through the granite and then swapped out the drill for the chisel and it was done in about forty five minutes. I love using the right tool for the job, but what miserable work this was. Noise, dust and plain old fashioned elbow grease were present in large quantities.

I was covered in sweat and wanted to quit to eat and let the evening come on a little more gently, but I was so dirty I couldn't imagine mustering the will to head back into that mess in the morning so I began the second and much smaller hole. The second hole was about a third the size of the first one and the perimeter could be drilled in about eight 2cm holes that could be then chiseled out. My arms were heavy and my shoulders were aching before I began, but I was certainly warmed up so I wasn't too concerned about straining anything.

The first hole was deeper than the drill was long and I didn't break through to the other side, but I knew I was close. The second hole went well for the first couple of centimeters or so and then nothing but jarring racket and black dust if I leaned into the machine hard. I started another hole and found the same thing only a little deeper. I drilled around the the rest of the perimeter with relative ease, but whatever this black/green stuff is was bonded up to some granite below it and the darker stuff was brutally tough stuff.

This darker rock was as hard again as the granite was when compared to the concrete when drilling. I'd love to know what this stuff is because it made mince meat out of that thousand dollar hammer drill. The masonry bit I was using is in nasty shape now. The chisel was brand new and is as blunt as a baseball bat after tangling with this stuff. The hammer point is also rounded to a ridiculous degree. When I was using the pointed bit, the tip sparked and became red hot. It took me almost twice as long to make the small hole as it had to make the larger one that had far more holes required to drill it out.

Maybe it's got some carborundum in it or something. It was remarkably difficult to remove and all I had to do was open up about 5cm of this material. I'm so glad I don't do this type of thing for a living. It's fun to be distracted by different physical challenges once in a while, but this one was at the limit for me today. I've got a demanding race on Saturday which might have made this little extra workout today a mistake. Sleep works right?
Terminal adolescent.

Hugo gets a big meal

One of the layer chicken cocks got donated as a snake meal tonight.

This is 640 grams of chicken going down the hatch of a snake that still unsettles me with it's size and willingness to behave without regard for my well being.


It's a terrible shot, but to pull the door away would have likely resulted in him regurgitating the effort so I left him be. I'm just happy he's got a good sized meal into him. I'll have another serious go at handling him again when that meal has settled.

I thawed the bird on the counter all day and warmed it up in the microwave before serving it up. Then I set it on some newspaper and left him alone with it. It took him a couple hours to get around to eating it, but I'm happy that he has taken it at all. I hope he eventually takes them feathers and all so I don't have to clean the darn birds.

I'll try and get something fresh for JC the next time he's due for a meal. Hopefully he'll adjust to poultry too and that will bring my feed costs down quite a bit. Next are some trials with rabbits, but not until some of the fall chores are out of the way. Does life just keep getting more intense as you go along?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Wow life is busy. It's birthday week for Snoot with various friends and family coming out for work parties to paint the barn and butcher chickens while celebrating. The only one that called today on her actual birthday was Boo which I thought was ironic given how often they scrap with each other.

Here is a link to an uncompressed image for those that like an unusual desktop wall paper like I do. It's the same as below only juicier!

I love the colours!


Thirty four of the little guys went down with gallows humour on Saturday. I've always contended that eating meat should involve reality checks in as many ways as possible. I love that our birds get sunshine and have the luxury of hunting down bugs through the summer on top of their regular rations. This year they grew better than ever before. I simplified the grain ration and added some salt. They appear to be in great shape although I think it will be a week or two before the slaughter has waned in the imaginations of some here to enjoy a roast bird propoerly.

Boo and I were more excited than disturbed. We killed 14 little cocks from the layer stock I brought in, along with the broilers and working with these tiny guys is going to be fun. One per person would be about right I think. It opens up a whole slough of ideas for me. Bonnie was brimming with ideas about other options for using the small birds. It should be fun once the rest can face the meat again.

I went to the Grunthal Livestock auction looking for rabbits today. They have a small animal sale once a month. I'm not sure how I talked myself out of buying what was there, but I did. They were exactly what I was looking for and about the right price too, but I'm too cheap apparently. I wanted them to be five dollars each and they went for eight dollars. Sheesh! Some peoples kids. I turned down a nice camera earlier in the summer too and now I can't find it for the initially quoted price and all others are 30% higher! I hope the rabbits don't make that big a jump, but you know rabbits.

Ran a demanding pace today with ten minute miles over six miles. I had to hustle to get my run in so I bought myself a few minutes with a faster pace and now my mind is whirling with possibilities. I really would like to break a two hour half marathon time next year. I need to choose the race and then set the plan out in black and white. What's another thirty seconds per mile? I ran a 9:13 mile for the fifth of six miles today and now look at me dreaming. I have been doing a lot of base training an my speed is suffering. I can't have everything I want all the time. Repeat.

One of my favourite quotes seems apropos.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Helen Keller

I should read that every morning. It takes very little in the way of distraction for me to drift away from an acquaintance with the potency of that statement and I would like to have it with me always.

It looks like Mum's coming out for a visit and then I'm going to go home with her for a week or so. It's been a while since I was out to the west coast and I'm looking forward to enjoying the company of my parents again. I hope to create some room to leave the farm fall chores in good shape before I go. I suppose that means getting some sleep instead of writing any more tonight.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A new snake in Hugo

I've finally been caught with a snake I'm out of my comfort zone with. It's a two meter boa (BCI) that's three years old and of uncertain gender.

I've had him/her home now for a few weeks, but haven't had much contact as Hugo, the new snake, was just heading into a shed. I figured it wouldn't hurt to let it settle into the new surroundings before pestering it much. Hugo finally shed out and I was anxious to have a look at the beauty in it's new skin so I had the girls join me for the inspection.

He's a bulky snake with a very thick body. I would not like to exaggerate, but he's likely twice as thick as my JCP. Hugo seems thigh thick, but I really want a tape measure around him.

There's the rub though. He's not really aggressive as much as defensive. He looked uncomfortable when I was trying to get him
out of his enclosure, but I pushed the issue and lifted him clear of the door. It was that point when I had him raised above my head that he took a swing at me. I was hit a glancing blow on and above my right eyebrow. Damn that kid has a big mouth. I'm not used to defending myself against snakes his size.

I've been into the enclosure every day since as I try and get a feel for his reactions, but so far I'm just feeling like a chump. I remember when I first got Diego my California King snake. He put on quite a show too, but doesn't quite carry the same torque as this fella, I suppose there's less to learn on safe side than the risky one, but I just hope he doesnt' poop before I can figure out how I'm going to clean his enclosure. :D

Here he is in all his low profile defense. More will be revealed no doubt.
Shine on you crazy diamonds.


favourite tattoo

Our madfishmonger@lj is getting ink done! I'm so jealous.

I'd love to have this type of work done, but with maybe a Nhandu chromatus I'm also certain I'd have to travel to have it done. I haven't seen anything of this style in the Peg. If anyone knows of people I should talk to, I'm all ears. I've been looking and talking about this for a couple of years now with no real contenders locally. Maybe that's my excuse for a trip to Seattle?


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quote of the day

I've been struggling to commit to the possible differed gratification of training more endurance mileage to better take advantage of stiffer workouts later.

It's such an interesting game. This thread on runningmania produced a quote I like a lot. "I RUN NOT TO ADD DAYS TO MY LIFE, BUT LIFE TO MY DAYS"

Again, gratitude is the attitude.

Put in a six mile run yesterday and cut half the grass before bed last night. Today all that physical stuff over the last few days has caught up to me. I'm lacking that spring in my step. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Try a Trail #3 / barn paint

What exactly was I thinking by running a lot of slow miles? Certainly not a performance improvement, surely! It cost me another thirteen seconds per kilometer to go from racing the 6km trail race to the 12.28km race on Saturday. I have been running a very monochromatic training pallet and it shows up in racing times that don't get any faster.

I know this will be the result of running a lot of slow distances in training and still I expect my times to get better. What a maroon. I write tonight to remind myself that I set out to work on my endurance this summer and not my times. I feel better already. I have impossibly bad recall.

Endurance it is then. The next race is in three weeks. I'll eat my humble pie and continue to push my mileage. A six mile run is my normal distance now and that's far beyond what I was able to do last year. Gratitude is the attitude!

This race involved some dancing with the devil technically speaking. What am I thinking when I sign up for these things? Like it's going to be fun? Karen and Jackie were great company, but I couldn't stay with them after the half way mark. They are marathoners and I am not... yet.

Here's a link to an image of the whole crew while we were were all still mud free

On another note, I'm feeling completely polluted after painting the barn today. Wow is it red! Went through 40 liters of paint and didn't manage to get the fourth wall covered. Did I mention that the colour is red? The barn looks like someone went loopy with lipstick. I feel like a toxic waste dump. What nasty stuff paint is. On the upside, the sprayer I borrowed rocked the house in all the right ways. Wow was that fast. I was all done painting in well under two hours. If the guy had known to put the sprayer away with some mineral spirits in the lines, valve and pump after using the spray unit for latex paint, life would have been much easier. As it was, there was quite a bit of time spent reclaiming valves and such from the demons of rust before we could get underway.

Lots of family help showed up for the day and there was a lot of food, wine and song to be celebrated with after the work was done. Meite was home, Bonnie is finished work and Manon is sleeping in a tent full time these days. She's on a roll, that one. Went fishing with frogs and Joe this past week and came home educated in lots of new ways. Life in the slow lane. Booyah!

Micho brought an interesting friend out with another sprayer and he was a welcome addition to the games today. Vince is a specialized mechanic and we shared many common interests. Unfortunately his sprayer didn't get a chance to shine much, but the company was welcome and appreciated and his help and experience was second to none. As usual, my sister in law was all energy all the time and helped a dirty job go along much faster than it would have gone without her.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The garlic report

I planted 2.5kg of garlic on November 7 2007 and harvested 9.6kg on August 7 2008. There is some kind of local garlic crisis going on where some stock has been damaged by something unknown and only produced 2.5% of what was planted. So I'll be planting double what I planted last year and hope my strain is resistant to whatever is striking some other local gardens.

I think it's hilarious that I set aside 4.5kg of garlic for canning and winter home use. That seems ridiculous! Here's the next trial for eats with a garlic bias, aioli:

Next year I'll aim to break the necks a week before harvest and to pull it all on August 1 or as close to that date as I can. I washed the bulbs this year and that has helped improve the presentation. I had very few culls this year, but a few split skins on some of the earlier stuff so it stayed in the ground a little too long even though I thought I was still a bit early on the 7th of August.

It's curing up well and looks like it will be very firm and sweet again this year. When I cull again sometime around the time of the winter solstice, I'll try preserving what we won't be able to eat like I do for the cold water dills in the summer. Hopefully that will work well. I've been told that vodka will work as a preservative too, but that's not first on my list.

62.5mm of rain this week and not a puddle to be seen on the yard. We're still cutting grass twice a week! We have not seen a 30C day this year yet, but it's been a glorious summer for those that walk on the sunny side of the street. I don't think there has been a summer more filled with friends and smiles than this one. Wish you were here, any and all.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Try a Trail #2

Race Day News


9 August 2008 - Wow, what a day it was. The sun was shining, the wind was calm and the mosquitoes were in the woods waiting. Then the start, and the one missed turn by the lead runners and off into the hinterlands everyone went. After some ferocious riding on the mountain bike, we managed to find everyone and get them turned around, but we have decided not to post results on this race but rather treat it as a 'Pancake Run'. I will e-mail results to everyone who took part this morning, but only you will know your distance ran. Thank you for all your kind words this morning. It was odd to go back and pull the course markings knowing that only three of you saw them in the right order today :-) (Dwayne Sandall, 9 August 2008)


What a day to be out though. It was a pristine day in high summer on the prairie. Tyler and Trish came out. Tyler might have won the thing if we had run the course, but it wasn't to be.

I was properly sick on Monday and had a bit of a resurrection of whatever bug knocked me down last night so I wasn't particularly strong today anyway so it was fun to be light heart ed about the disastrous organization and enjoy the day. Gratitude is the attitude as some say.

T & T are out for dinner on Monday and I'm looking forward to feeding them. Half Pints issued their new Grewsome Scotch Ale today. I'd never been to the brewery before so I stopped to pick up some faves to share on Monday.

As Monty Python might have said, "It's a beer for lying down and avoiding" but that's not the case here, I just like saying that. Normally Scotch Ales are so much like drinking straight from the ketchup bottle that they hurt me. Half Pints issued this Grewsome Scotch Ale to celebrate two years in business in Winnipeg and the brew master focused his attention in a much more balanced brew than I was anticipating. Mind you, I've only had a sample from a tiny little plastic cup, so maybe I'll change my tune when I get a full mouthful of the stuff. No matter, I love this brewery and it's commitment to making big bold real ales, more akin to bread than what I grew up thinking of when the word beer comes up.

I'm not fussy though, I'll take that celebration in almost any format, but particularly with things that involve the senses like food and this brewery produces beer that qualifies as food I think. Michael Pollan might agree I expect.

I just finished his book In Defense of Food and enjoyed it quite a bit. I grew up with a lot of real food and both PU and I enjoy cooking. I think I'll make up some fresh pasta for Monday night. Yum! I finally figured out, or I should say that Boo figured out that I hadn't been cooking it quite enough and now it's so much better. The down side of this discovery is that the window of opportunity to get it cooked perfectly is tiny. In the time it takes to serve it I find it can get too soft. I'm loving the new challenges much better than the old ones in this particular game much more though.

Tonight we were out to friends that were camping in St. Malo. PU teaches in the school that Niki is working as a TA. They have become very close friends over the last few years and I find their simple pleasures in life predictable and consistent enough that I can relax and enjoy being social. I'm normally so hyper aware of group dynamics that it nearly kills me to be out having "fun" like that. We laughed a lot and their kids are young and unsophisticated while being brilliant intellectually. We ate, we drank and we laughed a lot. Niki's parents were there and although her dad is slowed up with a stroke it was a pleasure to have their humour and culture to stir the pot well. It's high summer and today was rich in many things.

I spent the afternoon attending to vehicle maintenance. I was crabby as a billy goat while I was at it, but soon figured I was short of calories and went off to get Niki to feed me and all was well again. I suppose I'll never learn how to cover all the bases and that's probably a good thing anyway.

I set up a new fish tank upstairs. It's a 100 liter narrow tall display tank which is new for me. I've always kept lab style tanks previously. To get the biology going and settled as quickly as possible I released about 300 guppies of various sizes into the almost virgin water and a week later the job is almost complete. The babies were obviously lacking some cover because I have a lot less of them now than I did when I first put them all in there. I picked up a heater for the smaller tank and I'll cull out the best of the guppies and keep them breeding for feeders when I move the others to the 100 liter tank. I haven't finished the landscaping, but Boo brought home some wonderful rocks she had found while she was breaching a beaver dam last week. Beavers are amazing, but I suppose anything in the natural world is if you look closely enough to appreciate it. If all goes well I should be the owner of a 6' boa next weekend. The price was right as my Dad would say. From all reports, this snake is a peach. More will be revealed, no doubt.

As part of the race kit today there was a new Canadian adventure racing magazine. The story that brought our evolution to my mind was one of a fellow racing the West Coast Trail and the Juan de Fuca trails, along with the bit of highway that separates them, back to back in under 24 hours.

Pam came out this week for dinner again. She's gearing up for her little sell the farm travel the world for a year adventure. The latest addition is an experiment with a tiny little computer called an eeepc surf running a Linux distribution (Xandros). What a gal! She was excited to know I was a Linux enthusiast and that lead to some wireless questions that I think we've solved already and I haven't even had the pleasure of playing with the darn thing yet. Go Pam!

Running is going really well. I've been so careful to allow plenty of time to adapt even the slowest body systems and it's paying off. This summer I have been able to sustain 20 mile weeks without much trouble. Go me!

OK, sleep now. My gut is still boiling. I'm amazed I had any run time today at all that didn't end up with a fast dash off the trail and and emergency deposit. Life could be worse.
One of many

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Try a trail #1

First trail race is in the bag.

That was tough. Apparently no light weights show up to these things to make me look better than I am. :P

What a demanding day. I'd like to be happy with this and should be. I got just about all of my potential out of this effort. I got a side stitch twenty five minutes into the race. I think I've had maybe two others in the five or so years I've been running. I had to slow way down to cope with the pain.

It was well organised and a beautiful day to run.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

summer 2008

Writing is not at the top of the priority list apparently.

The weather has been good if you like that kind of thing. The mozzies are building, but it's all manageable. We have three turkeys left of the nine that arrived and ten that were ordered. I consider this a tremendous victory as turkeys seem to me to be incredibly weak in the brain department.

I'm too tired for a read through and make another draft. Sorry for the blunders.

The birds I hatched in the incubator are doing well. I lost four of the nineteen hatched to various human errors, some of which were not my own. It turned these wee juans out to roam the room on their own today, but will wait until they are finished the "starter" so they have a good head start going into winter. I bought some commercial "leghorns" to augment the layer flock this year, but they are out on tour with the turkeys and cockerels eating chop. Chop, being ground oats and barley prepared as for cattle. It means that the grind is too fine for the chickens, but is solved by wetting down the feed before loading it into the trays for din-din. It's a messy job, but for a third the price of what the feed mill is asking, I can live with the inconvenience. Our local small mill that had been supplying us with feed for the layers burned to the ground in the week I took delivery of the chicks. Ugh! I wasn't happy, but fortunately I've been around long enough to weasel my way into a local farmer's good graces and beg his time on his hammer mill. I'm so grateful not to have to feed the nasty commercial feed this year.

Although it's a nasty bit of work to pour water into a 20l pail of feed and mix it by hand, the biggest pay of is that the birds require a whole lot less water. This has all made clear how much stimulant is added to the commercial feed. When feeding the same feed as goes to the commercial growers, I have to haul three times the water I am having to haul now.

It's summer too and PU has the east (barn) garden caged in to protect it from the deer. This means that I can let my birds out to feast on what they can scratch for in the evenings. The yokes are beginning to look like paint again and that's always welcome. Wild food makes a lot of positive changes in the way the byproducts come out.

The bird bath I got PU for her birthday is working according to the plan. Mum mentioned that under a tree would be a good place to attract birds to use the bath and that's been the case. I think it's been up for six weeks or so and this week some bird visitors decided it looked like a good spot to get wet. I got it from

I was expecting to have to wait a long time for the wildlife to adapt to the new addition, but apparently not. I believe that part of the reason that they've taken to this bath so quickly is the high quality of the coating the bath was finished with. It's an industrial powder coat and there seems to be very little off gassing. I'm very impressed with this thing. It was way too expensive, but I'll bet it serves us well for many years. I only wish our kitchen window was a little lower so PU could appreciate the activity at the bath while in the kitchen.

I chose to put the bath where it would be best for the birds, not the people. So far the birds seem very happy with it.

I had a really strong run today and it's been a long while since the last time I've been able to say that about a training run. Today made for a firm confirmation that my observations about my racing history and the last several months of training have been correct in that I need more endurance work.

I've gone back to running every second day and have dropped all my speed work for the time being. I've also slowed down my pace on my LSD runs at least at the beginning and that seems to be working to produce a strong training effect again. Now if I could stop eating for other reasons than hunger I might shed a few pounds and have the effect even more pronounced.

I am very grateful to have remained healthy and in fact much stronger for having taken up running again. I do love the ongoing experiment of one.

I have a trail race series through the summer that I'm a bit nervous about. I've taken on a lot more strength and stability work on my off days from running now that I ever have done before. Trails offer a much more demanding use of the body and I don't want to arrive at my first race on July 19 and hurt myself in ways that last. I look forward to the race pain, but that lasting stuff is not attractive to me at all. I'm very fortunate to have such good genetics for motion and form. When I'm feeling ungrateful, I wish I could have had some speed too.

I had a ten day stint where my back was unhappy recently, but that was stupidity. Maybe one can learn to avoid that more often? Hope springs eternal. Instead of going back for the saw, I hauled a 12m tree 100m and I should not have done that. It's all better now though and part of my therapy is ongoing.

I show my stress in my back and it's been that way since having a rather threatening injury in the winter of 94/95 where there was talk of surgery and selling the farm to accommodate me. So as insurance on my physiotherapy work, I got Manon to throw a lot of baseballs at me and that often puts a smile on my face. I had to repair my old glove with new lacing in a number of places first, but with that done and some neets foot oil it's better than new and I get one more task in my day that keeps me happy. When we went out tonight, my arm wasn't even stiff and I sure couldn't say that last night.

I miss having my immediate family around. It seems like we're very much detached from each other. Maybe we always have been. Whatever the case I'm not enjoying being estranged from my youngest brother and having so many miles between our family and the others. I'm not sure how I'll resolve those feelings, but money would help I'm sure. Then I could travel, but there seems like more to do here every day.

On the up side, the gardens are all growing wonderfully this year so far and PU has put her energy there with glee since school got out. She has fallen for gardening in a big way. She's seeing some good results too and having the fresh produce is popular with us homeys. It's been a spinach festival recently. The radishes are done and the garlic needs the flowers cut down. The spuds are looking terrific from the top side. The deer fence is holding so the guns have remained under lock and key and PU sleeps at night.

Summer is brilliant for smiling. I've got a sprayer lined up to paint the barn. That may come together next week if I can clear the deck in the shop this week. We spent some time in the critter room talking about how that layout will go and hammered out some good ideas that should make it a pleasing place to sit and read or listen to music maybe.

The basement is getting cleared for the big insulation project. The plumber is slow so we're over a barrel on that one. I did manage to find a decent electric knife for cutting ridged Styrofoam which I'm happy about. That's going to make part of that job a lot easier.
Hope you all are well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Canada Day Fireworks

Crewing on a fireworks show is good fun. I got a huge rush from being so close to all the action. I think that may have been the most fun I've had standing up. When I commented on how good I thought the local show was every year I was told why and a long standing mystery came to a close for me. It's the home show for a big fireworks company so they do it at cost and toss in plenty of perks to boot. It's always baffled me how this tiny community could support such a respectable showcase of fireworks and now I know!

Tonight was way too much fun. For the cost of a day and the course, I'm going to seriously consider getting certified to do this type of pyromania as often as I can. Like the forces of acceleration, I've become addicted to the concussion effects of the shells being fired. What a gas to be in the midst of all that powder!

The crew were all hard core pyromaniacs that had been after seeing this 16" shell make the night bright. It was supposed to be fired at a convention of fireworks people earlier this year, but because of high wind conditions it couldn't be lit and Ray managed to snag it for the Vita show. The bureaucracy was a nightmare apparently because of the shear size of this explosive. To my mind it was all worth it. It sure did light up the sky in a beautiful way.

Like many drama productions though, there were some glitches behind the scenes and Ray showed why he's the man in charge by squeaking out past the hurdles to get almost everything lit in an orderly fashion. Some faulty cabling is suspected as being part of the stress Ray had to balance in getting the electrically discharged sequences to perform correctly. I was impressed with his quick thinking and was very glad I wasn't the one driving the show. Whether anyone noticed much outside of the crew or not, he earned his place as a leader tonight in anyones eyes. It made my insight into the game much more interesting, but I was very grateful not to be carrying any responsibilities when it was all said and done. I felt a lot like tits on a bull actually.

There were a couple of failures in the product they had bought for the show, but those were minor and expected in a show of that size as I understand it. Delayed fuses and electronic matches will be dancing in my dreams tonight. I like to blow things up. I always have. I wonder what my Mum remembers of that part of me in my youth. :D

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Tomorrow should be fun. I'm friends with the local pyro guy and he's got himself a terrific little finale for our small town fireworks display for Canada Day tomorrow. It's a 30kg shell with 2.4kg of black powder dedicated to launch it up to 500 meters for it's duty to begin. It's going to go bang in a really fun kind of way.

Most fireworks displays consist of 50mm shells for the bulk of the show. This thing is huge!

The gun to fire this thing has a 40cm inside diameter and is about 3 meters long. A good portion of it gets buried. I can't wait for the concussion when it fires. Apparently the last time a shell of this calibre was shot in Canada was as a double in the finale at the millennium celebrations in Ottawa and before that you have to go back another 15 years.

It's a long story of how it comes to be in our little community, but suffice it to say I have a back stage pass and will be up close and personal for the display. What fun! Boys blowing things up? Who would have guessed it would come with such a big grin?

Happy Canada Day all.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Try a trail

I've lost my mind and registerd for this entire series.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Manitoba Half Marathon

It was a great day with Maniacs. Cheryl helped calm my nerves and keep things light at the start and then I was off to see if I could find a pace.

Maniacs =

I missed a few mile makers but here is how it went down:

2:09:34 chip time

29:20 - 9:53 - 10:25 - 9:51 - 9:43 - 10:05 - 9:43 - 9:59 - 19:59 - 10:36 (1.1 mile @ 9:30min/mile) 174/238 (40-49) Go me!

I hope there aren't too many mistakes in there. I'm not sure what happened with that 10:25 on mile 5. I wanted to run this race in a very controled and deliberate fashion and I managed that.

The first time I ran a half, 18 months ago I had a ridiculously large negative split to finish in 2:20. This time I feel like I went out there to see what the day had to offer. I found it in a cold day with fairly low humidity. It's a difficult time of year for me as I suffer from allergies as spring comes on. I set out to try and make some inroads there this year and managed that well I think.

I am really pleased to have been able to share the day with so many maniacs. Everyone is so supportive that it's tough to fall down. The veterans were sage afterward with some being pleased and some not, but the grace with which they handle their highs and lows is of tremendous value to me.

I changed a bunch of things for this race, although I know better not to do that. I took no fuel or liquid with me. The first drink of Gatorade I got was a little later than expected so I stopped running to drink it and ensure I could down two servings of that without spillage and did the same at the next stop and by that time I was less concerned about liquid, but a little apprehensive about fuel.

I had not thought to bring breakfast with me for the stay in Winnipeg overnight. Usually I drive into the city in the morning for any early event. Breakfast was a little lighter than I wanted it to be ideally and by mile ten I had twinges that left me thinking about such things. As it turned out I'd taken in enough Gatorade on the course to see me though.

I had a great time at the pre-race dinner and the post race BBQ. Karen and Steve are amazing contributors to the power of orange. They were great fun as hosts and I think Karen did the organising for the pre-race dinner too. Everyone pitched in on some fine food for the BBQ and Steve albeit with his pants on, did duty on the grill. His veggie kabobs were brilliant. The onions were perfectly done, large and as sweet as they get. Nicely done Steve!

My sights are set on gaining some more racing experience this summer.

Sorry the shots I had to choose from were lame.



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

mouse skeleton

I'm sure this isn't as fasinating to some as it is to me, but how I do love the ways of the world.

I should have taken a shot of the pattern that the hair left. It covered an area about 20cm in diameter and was very lightly patterned in the way it had spread out from the body of the mouse. There was a single larva left eating or starving. I love how the lower jaw being mostly made up of the two teeth and the molars are so fine!

The trap was between the floor of the upstairs and the ceiling of the downstairs. The access had been sealed so we had missed all the nasty smell that must have been part of the process. Housekeeping 101 rule #861 - Deal with it earlier rather than later.



Saturday, May 17, 2008

goal setting and productivity unknown

I've been goal setting. A card carrying member of the ADHD type like me needs those things and has precious little experience in such matters. Even at 49 years old I've got significantly less of it than might be beneficial.

So on the model of my daughters I've been goal setting my little butt off. It's not been overly manic, which is always a bonus. It's been sustainable more or less for a few months. An unusual number of tasks have been stroked off the "to do" list.

All this began with the wood. I normally cut wood for our heating, but this winter I began from scratch. We had very little wood put by when the heating season began so I just started in on things that needed cleaning up around the yard. It's now a lot cleaner of dead wood and left over scrap than it was last year. I got through the winter heating and set to work to put by the wood for next year. I don't want to post images until I'm done splitting, but it's almost over. I've got some miserable oak to contend with, but the end is in sight and the pile even impresses me.

Felling, limbing, bucking up, hauling the branches away and stacking those, still leaves a lot left to do. It's kept me out of trouble. Hear my smile?

I've typed out all but a single page of a 38 page introduction to Thomas Cleary's book on Dogen called Rational Zen. I've wanted to have that in digital format for too many years! It's the best insight into Zen practise told in a Western voice I've ever come across.

Since 1990 when we bought this place we've turned the light on and off in the back porch by turning the light bulb. We have a switch now. Did you feel the earth move? I did!

I helped a young woman with some tree felling a few weeks ago. I think we dropped 30 or 40 trees in a couple of hours. It's nice to be in shape for that type of intensity. She was very grateful and I was pumped to be so useful. Life in the slow lane.

I cleaned my down bag. It was a bit ripe and it took some attention to get the job done, but it's all fresh smelling and lofty just like it should be once again. Why wait? I'm not sure, but that task is over too.

I'm sure my mother will have difficulty keeping her eyes from rolling all the way back in her head when she hears that I've bred my bitch to another stout face full of muscle in hopes of having puppies in the first part of July.



Bonnie is home and we've been enjoying our kitchen time. She pushes me and I love the input. My latest trials have involved the ever humble corn tortilla. I made a decent chili and having been given a small press for tortillas a while ago needed to master it's use. I'm still batting about 500, but it's definitely coming along in the right directions. Bonnie and I bought some the other day and all memory of our collective failures vanished in the face of the pasty dry patties of whatever was in the bag marked as tortillas. Wretched they were and from that point on ours have all been terrific, even the failures.

When they are working well, they blow up like balloons and steam themselves from the inside. Toasted grain is such a tasty thing. Like oat cakes, or shortbread. Bonnie found some shortbread in the freezer this passed week. I'm surprised she told anyone about it. What grand addition to the arterial bogging that was and ever so tasty.

All the wiring in the guest house got straightened out this winter and today I took advantage of that to put up security lights on the north corners of the outside of that building. What a treat to be able to see where you're walking at night. Life is in the doing apparently.

I cut the last of the stumps in the front of the house bush and south of the garden today. The new chain and recently solved mystery that had been preventing the chain oil from being delivered, made things go very quickly. The stove lengths got hauled to the splitting blocks and that brings that part of the massive intervention to a close.

Manon had to have her own axe this winter. Once she learnt how to swing the big one I figured she's get a thrill out of swinging something a little closer to her available strength. She's gotten a lot stronger on all fronts for a number of reasons. Can it be any sweeter to watch a teen lean into the load of her age and time? We're very happy parents. If you've ever seen the movie "Juno" you might have a peek at our life with one left in the nest. She's a big kid in a small package. There is never a dull moment and her wit is lightening fast. She's all about differed gratification. She'll wait years to find exactly the right time to deliver a line. I'll be very curious to see what life will hold for her. I love her very much.

I'm chair of the MHS now. It seems strange to be the one that's organised and clear of vision. I guess I just wasn't hanging out with a chaotic enough crowd. We're pushing hard to be in a position to support our non profit status. I like the board just now. Lots of young horse power there.

After I finished with the stumps today I set to work on felling a few more trees. I need a few straight ones for a wood shed. I'm not sure of the joints just yet, but I'm sure it's not brain surgery. When Manon came out to begin salvaging my garlic for me, she said "You look like you know what you're doing" and walked off to get the wheelbarrow. I must admit that the logs look cool.

Pierrette got 15 generous yards of some nice looking dirt and the driver dumped quite a bit of it on top of my garlic. All is well and it's all enjoying the sun again today thanks to Manon.

Instead of buying lumber I bought a bark spud when the time of year is right with the sap running to peel logs for construction. I want to make a simple pole shed for my wood to bea able to be stacked and to have it season under cover. Another long over due bit of pleasure in my life, the wood shed. I'm not even sure where it's going to be erected yet, but I took a huge step toward making a dent in that task today. I got four 3.6m logs, two 2.5m logs and a couple of thinner spares peeled and squared up. The trees were straight and the bark came away nicely so they look pretty spiffy if I do say so myself. Now if I just knew enough about joining logs. I've got one 3m on the ground and another one to be felled before I'm done that part of the job.

I've met a friend. We're talking tattoos.

I'm absolutely cookoo for coaco puffs for this one.

I traded him one of my baby corn snakes. I knew the breeding was to test out the breeding pair as heterozygous for hypomelanism which is a reduced black. Many of the traits for het hypo don't show up well until several months after hatching. I wasn't in any rush. I've won the jack pot with the female I bought gravid being het for three out of the four most popular morphs. The albinos she hatched have some really pretty pinks to their colouring and the hypo anerys have some pink to them too. Nice looking snakes.

anery, possible ghost

My bargin bearded dragon is gonzo. He's been a bit neglected for handling lately and he sure pulled out all the stops on defence last weekend.


The Manitoba Half Marathon is only a few short weeks away for me. I'm working it! There is a lot more going on and going well, but it's beddies... shine on you crazy diamonds.

morels / praying mantis nymphs

I'm being productive so I'm not writing much. I'm slowed up a bit tonight by a painful back. I abuse it and it forgives me. At least so far, but it always takes time to reconsile our differences. I hope we can talk about an eight mile run tomorrow sometime.

Joe came over the other day with a couple of liters of nicely cleaned morels. He came by today to get Pierrette to tag along. I don't suppose he covered as many miles as he might have on his own, but who knows. The morels are just getting started so there wasn't but a few for dinner tonight. They sure were in nice shape even if they didn't have a lot of siblings. Yum is not too strong a word.


A couple of praying mantis egg casings began to hatch out this afternoon. I think they are the Chinese mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis) which will grow to 10 or 11cm if I can find some wingless fruit flies soon.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Big bucks on a trainer

The best money can buy here, Endurance Matters and it's all in order that I receive all the pain I can recover from. Seems silly I know. I've got a lot on my plate, but I had a scary migraine this week and running seems to keep me free of those. Normally I get an aura and then a two day hang over where my head screams in pain when it experiences any pressure from a sneeze or from bending over, but I got the bigger dose of pain this week and it's just a little scary. I'm not anxious to encourage a patter of pain that's getting worse if I don't run at least a maintenance level. I have no doubts about Dwayne taking me down the garden path far, far away from any previously path thought wise. I'm really excited.

I've been cutting wood and figuring it wouldn't be bad to work some different physiological elements for a while and call the wood cutting "cross training", but apparently I need to run even if that means uncomfortable organisational issues.

I've been on rails lately in most things, but not running. The pile of winter heating wood grows, but that's not going to be enough. It's ten weeks to the Manitoba Marathon (I'll be racing the half) and that isn't enough time to do much other than survive. I'm hopefully going to take advantage of some diet changes in hope of keeping ahead of the demand from Dwayne about the game. This will be either the beginning of something great of the end of my competitive running. He's a man on a mission.

I have a good friend that he's worked wonders with and I'm hoping I can develop some of her discipline and reap some of the same rewards. Dwayne is dispensing pain for a lot of friends. Now I'm trying to follow. Don't save me until I'm dead OK?

Too tired to edit... sleep now!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

sub 24 hour new crescent moon

An astronomy highlight tonight. I bagged a crescent moon that was younger than twenty four hours old.

I don't understand quite yet how it is that the spring and fall are best for catching this event, but I do know that many seasoned veterans of the game are challenged to add this to their lists. If the whole thing wasn't so unexpectedly spectacular I don't think I'd be so quick to admit to not having to try too hard.

It was like looking at an eclipse. I was surprised to find it a bowl where it's leading brilliant edge was facing directly at the sun that had just set. Weeks ago I had danced my way through the RASC handbook and taken all the numbers that would account for my latitude and longitude to come up with reasonably accurate time for the setting sun and then the setting moon.

Our local time is CDT and -6 of UT. Sunset was at 2:09 UT I believe. The moon would be set at 21:33 UT. After the hour it too me to believe I'd proofed the math and instructions out sufficiently I thought that there must be an online calculator to do this stuff. Surprises of surprises, I'd just wasted an hour of my life again. I say that in jest. I still like to work my brain now and again, especially with numbers. My numbers looked good against theirs so it was doubly good for me.

It was a day of wood hauling and splitting. Manon and Kyle helped pull limbs away and clean up the broken bits from three trees I felled yesterday. I hauled the stove lengths out to the pile and they joined me until it was done.

The day was grey but bright, +5 with a breezy +20km wind north west. Even still, once I got up to speed with the axe I was down to a short sleeved tee shirt, jeans, work gloves and toque rolled up twice. It was more like a beenie by that time, but a warm one for my bald pate.

The air was incredibly fresh. The only down side is that there is a lot of mold showing as the snow retreats and Manon and I are suffering from the interference. Fortunately we both had enough energy to make a day of our efforts and the pile grows. I've never done the whole job before. Felling, limbing, cleaning up and stacking the refuse, bucking up the logs, hauling it to a pile and then biting in to spilt the big stuff with wedges, and axes for the smaller stuff. I love my axe. It was a Lee Valley purchase early on. My customer number is a point of pride for me on a good day. (#132) On a bad day I see a lot of useless stuff in there. But when you want a real wood tool with no shortcuts in manufacturing and generations of evolution into it's design so it's honed in use and sharpness to a razors edge, that is my beacon of quality is Lee Valley Tools.

It's an Iltis Oxhead Splitting Axe - 31" and it has split a lot of wood in it's time. I've also never had a regret about coughing up the coins for it.

I have a spiral wedge, an eight pound sledge hammer and a BFS limbing axe all in good shape with secure handles so everyone got into the act. All the ugly huge butt ends of the biggest of the trees got broken down today. What a great feeling to know those aren't waiting for me. Kyle was a real sport about it, but he still wears his emotional armour around us no matter how many laughs are going on.

I'm doing a lot of administration on the MHS site now. You might say I'm doing everything. It takes time, but we're getting there. I think I have some educated types that can write well without too much blood letting that are going to help create some new contend. I've a couple of young kids that are keener's that will be fun to have on board too. Hopefully we can do it all on line. I do not need more meetings. One tomorrow for runners, and then again on Wednesday with that same crew. We're going to see "Spirit of the Marathon." Big surprise? Not.

hair raiser/razor - sub 24 hour old crescent moon

I love my Mum. She has joie de vivre in spades. I hope that if I get that far in life I can have that same selfless style she musters well. I got this from her this weekend:

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of my recovery from colon cancer; to honour the too many family and friends who have not been as fortunate; and to encourage several friends who are living and suffering with various cancers, I am having my head shaved.

On April 27 at the Dashwood Fire Hall ( Canadian Cancer Society is having a fund raising event. Having contemplated this idea for a long time. I am now ready and asking for your moral and financial support. If you so desire, make your cheque payable to The Canadian Cancer Society and send it my way.

Thanks in advance

Love you Mum! I would love to have a studio study in B&W photography of you afterward if you would sit for it. Do you know a guy?
Your proud as punch first.

hair raiser/razor

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of my recovery from colon cancer; to honour the too many family and friends who have not been as fortunate; and to encourage several friends who are living and suffering with various cancers, I am having my head shaved.

On April 27 at the Dashwood Fire Hall ( Canadian Cancer Society is having a fund raising event. Having contemplated this idea for a long time. I am now ready and asking for your moral and financial support. If you so desire, make your cheque payable to The Canadian Cancer Society and send it my way.

Thanks in advance, Agnes

I got this from my Mum this morning. What a sport. I love her to bits. I can't wait for the images!
One of three

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A sewing jones...

I'm tired of not having back stitch. If anyone local knows of a decent used sewing machine for sale, please get me sewing.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

All the water in the world

I think this is such a very good teaching aid! It makes a clear point about our treasured, or not, global resources.

I've heard it said that the atmosphere, if represented on a globe would make plastic wrap look like it was thick. This image really struck home for me as to just how thin our resources are on this little blue planet.

I found this image on Dan Phiffer's site after someone posted it to the RASC-wpg list. The first thing I did was try and prove it out as reasonable, but the day wasn't long enough and the math heads on the list did it for us. Marvelous!

Left: All the water in the world (1.4087 billion cubic kilometres of it) including sea water, ice, lakes, rivers, ground water, clouds, etc. Right: All the air in the atmosphere (5140 trillion tonnes of it) gathered into a ball at sea-level density. Shown on the same scale as the Earth.

Pictures that cast new light on our planet

UgoTrade - Archive for the ‘Virtual Worlds’ Category

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Laminar Flow

I've just had the top of my head come off. Science is the best.
Laminar flow demo Thanks Brock.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Steinbach - St. Adolphe - Dominion City - Vita - Richer
12:21 AM CST Wednesday 20 February 2008
Wind chill warning for
Steinbach - St. Adolphe - Dominion City - Vita - Richer continued

Extreme wind chill ending overnight.

This is a warning that extreme wind chill conditions are imminent or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.

A very cold airmass blankets most of southern Manitoba. Combining this cold air with winds in the 15 to 20 km/h range will cause wind chills around minus 45. As winds abate by morning there will finally be a respite from the extreme wind chills.

At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 10 minutes.

Guide to Tomorrow's Eclipse Available!

RASC has made available a very nice little brochure for the lunar eclipse tomorrow. If you're around and dress warmly, the binos and the telescope will be out to enjoy the view. Check your clear sky clock for your local conditions.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

video, biting politics and bike parts needed

First, I knew there was something going on with my cell phone. I am not quite sure what the ipod is up to, but it would not surprise me if it was headed down the same path.

On another note, I loved this little swing at the other team. A little vulgar maybe, but it's apropos given the subjects I think.

The rubbers have rotten off my brake levers on my bike. Any ideas? I've been on the prowel for a couple of days. What do you think of these options? Money is always tight for this type of thing.

I think this is my best bet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Missing the frostbit 5km race

Intervals are killers. A mile warm up. A minute running like you're possessed. Five minutes to try and calm the devil, repeat. This week I was a minute slower, but I'll use my chronograph screwing up or more likely me screwing it up as an excuse for being a minute slower overall this week. If I can recover, I'll race the Frostbite Festival 5km. If not I'll go cheer the crew on and enjoy the rich atmosphere at Festival du Voyageur. I hope they have the slide open! I have no idea how the insurance industry allows such wacky things. Oops. It's not on the weekend. I just spoiled my chances. :( It's slated to be run at 7:00pm tomorrow night. Insert swearing like a sailor.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

some links

I've never traveled beyond North America. This slide show of the Moscow subway sure keeps me thinking about travel/

Moscow's Subway Stations

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Political stripes

Stolen shamelessly from sugarplumkitty@lj

I'm exactly where I thought I would be. Weird. That almost never happens.

What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with



Old School Democrat


New Democrat




Pro Business Republican


Foreign Policy Hawk


Socially Conservative Republican


Damn cold run

I'm dog tired. It seems that two hours sleep followed by a six mile run where the winter weather bites as hard as it was biting yesterday took it's toll. Limits are to be tested and apparently mine have been reached. I dressed well enough to run into the north wind for three miles.

Friday, February 8, 2008

snapshots be gone!

Does anyone actually like those little "snapshot" popup things? I have grown to hate them. I may, in my dopey fatigue, just figured out how to get rid of them. Oh glory be, I'm not dead yet.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Heavy breathing and dog breeding

I'm sure this has more to do with how little time I've spent running at my full capacity than it does about my brilliance, but I felt foolish anyway.

Last night Laura and I were talking on the way home from the movie discussing running experiences. She described a mutual friends breathing as being very noisy which I thought was odd. He's a veteran of many endurance sports.

On my run today I did my usual mile warm up then set to work to run four, one and five minute intervals. The day is bright and clear with fresh snow and reasonable temperatures. Best of all though, the wind was almost no existent. In the quiet I could hear my breathing and thought I too was making quite a bit of racket.

Then I opened my mouth. Oh those duh moments hit so smartly.

Last week I could barely make my way through three intervals. This week it seemed entirely within my grasp to complete four. Saturday will be a long run after I go out in the morning to look at possible mates for a couple of dogs. A friend is considering males for his talented Labrador retrieve and I'm thinking about having my pit bull Rosie bred. I'd like to find a mate for her of the old school variety where there is a lot of bull dog still in evidence. I don't want a runner, terrier type, I want a lunger with a massive head, bull dog type. It's not proving to be easy to find what I want, but this week I'll take my camera. We looked at dogs last week too and I left my camera at home which was a mistake.