Monday, October 3, 2011

Double bass lives

The repairs were just about as structurally sound as they could have been. Clean, clear wood to bond to on all surfaces and good mechanical fits where required. Elmer's yellow was deemed the proper adhesive.

I took a couple of hours with sharp chisels to clean up the factory glue and casual fit. I used ratcheting tie down straps to clamp the neck in place until it was set and a more conventional metal clamps to secure the scroll back into place as the glue set there. I felt it all went swimmingly.

I used to be very impatient with wood. Now I'm a little better at taking the time to work with it and enjoy the ride. That same thing could be said for a few other tasks too actually. This repair felt luxuriously rewarding.

There remains a gazillion things to learn about this instrument, not the least of which is how to play it. As always, I'm at least as interested in the set up as I am about the music. I'll continue to dial it in and be grateful for such adventures coming my way.

It tuned up reasonably well and I'm gaining some sense of the scale, but it's very different than anything else I've ever played. The strings are huge and it seems to have a demanding physicality that is unique. This will be another strength training exercise, I think, as I get up to speed with this one.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Garlic 2011

Apparently it was a good year for garlic. I hadn't really noticed, but the numbers got my attention. Last year I planted 2.5kg of seed and saw a 460% return on that investment.

This year I planted that same quantity and reaped a 776% return. The bulbs were not as spectacularly large like they were last year, but there sure was a lot of them. Here's to another hot dry summer next year. The onions were large and plentiful too, but hot as Hades.

The gardens are tilled and looking rich as another growing season closes.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Double bass

I've been feeling shy so haven't written in ages. Life is active and filled with much to be grateful for.

I doubt that another instrument in the house was really called for. Things do tend to click when the fire is hot though and I feel like I'll be saving this from becoming kindling to a less figurative fire. This is of West German manufacturer, but that's about all I know about it.

Eme has suggested the bass line to Pachelbel's canon as a starting point. Any other suggestions?

Yes I have other responsibilities that need attending to. Back to the shop I go.







Sunday, September 11, 2011


I enjoy watching fireworks, but I enjoy firing it much more. These clips give a small fraction of the experience. You get nothing of the concussion here of course, which is what is so addictive for me.

I don't know that I've ever met a more wildly diverse crew than the folks that show up to work with pyrotechnics. Recently I've met a military history professor, a stage manager for a major symphony orchestra, a cowboy, an ambitious real estate broker and a broadly skilled surgery room technician accustomed to working in remote hospitals and a senior credit union loans officer.

This was a show Canfire shot for St. Anne Dawson Trail Days on September Labour Day weekend 2011. The show is pretty, but the guns really get me going.

These racks shown in the first video below, have 4-6 inch guns that contribute to the finale and are fired electrically. Bigger shows have bigger guns obviously. Some of the bigger ones have to be dug into the ground to ensure they remain safe if something goes amiss. As it is, I've seen some of these smaller guns be pounded into soft ground a half meter from the recoil. MMmmm... concussion.

Hand lighting still holds a thrill for me. Firing any gun requires a steady hand and some never get use to it. On this night the wind was perfect, in that it took the smoke away. It can be very dirty work. Firing these racks comprise the bulk of the show.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sweet Grass and Sage

Strong medicine.

I feel surrounded by the sacred here. Death is familiar and life is ever potently speaking to it.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Green onions

It's begun, again. The produce, encore, is more than just the eggs. The green onions are viscous, akin to when one cuts into an aloe vera plant. The contrast between what many people eat and these exotic choices is remarkable. The yolks are like paint and neither the eggs nor the onions closely resemble what I find in our grocery store. What luxuries these gifts are. Maybe an omelette tonight.


Some rhubarb is stewed and ready to sample tonight. The gardens are tilled, albeit a tad on the wet side. There are mallards nesting in the yard and the mower has had a few good workouts.

Chicken eggs are set in the incubator and the first crop of juvenile song birds are at the feeder. The forest is brilliant green with the new gloss still on the aspen. The smell is wild and exotic.

Another growing season has begun. One more precious spring to welcome.
Wish you were here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Qualicum Beach tour

Couldn't keep this one away from the salt chuck.

May 7 2011

Suitable prairie girl awe.

May 7 2011

May 7 2011

May 7 2011

May 7 2011

Manon and Papa at the Englishman River bridge. Great childhood memories for me.

May 7 2011

Manon sitting above the Englishman River pool. In the fall you can swim with the brilliant coloured sockeye in this amazing pool.

May 7 2011

Manon and Bruce laughing while playing guitar. We played a lot. Lovely!

May 7 2011

May 7 2011

Nana's quilt on the bed. This one doesn't repeat. She's a sucker for punishment.

May 7 2011

May 7 2011

May 7 2011

A reminder that lotus land isn't all soft and cuddly. Sheesh it was cold there!

May 7 2011

Scotch Eggs

The Scots apparently have one of the worst diets going. These were tasty, but maybe not best for the heart. One more thing off the bucket list. Makes me feel like I should hurry though.

May 7 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Red River flood

The flood is on. It was an impressive sight on this short drive to cross the Red.


Highway #201 East of Letellier. The double lines server as a more visible guide for the single lanes of traffic. I can imagine that a trip into the ditch here might pose some problems above and beyond the usual grief.


I wanted to build a raft with a sail so badly!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sunbeam Toaster

Once again I'm prepared to rant about green washing.

Our toaster was not cooperating so I got into it to see if I could help. Four screws, some scraping away of past toastage and a single screw adjustment did the deed for resurrection.

Twenty five years of service and I'm certain it's now ready to face another lengthy leg of action. Great value. Thank-you brother David for the wonderful wedding gift. I do so love a machine that just works.

Buy wisely people. It's what we can do when we can't reduce our consumption. An espresso machine and a slow cooker were added to our appliance count recently. I hope they can come close to competing with this toaster for service intervals. Fear not the screw drive.


Student of the month

What a kid. Taking two courses in the same time slot. She knows how to set goals, I'll give her that. Whoa.


Knitted socks

Twenty thousand stitches of love. Thanks Mum. Knitting is an act of love, unquestionably.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pulled pork

The second attempt at making pulled pork went off very well.

I browned up the cheap roast ($3.98) quite hard. I packed it into the bottom of the slow cooker smelling like heaven after it was browned. Lightly cooked a couple chopped garlic cloves, the spices and a medium onion in the same pot I used to brown the meat, gathering up all that brown goodness.

I added a half teaspoon of dry mustard to help emulsify the sauce, as I usually do in similar circumstances. The spices were comprised of a half teaspoon of quatre épices, (my own mix), a half dozen whole all spice, pepper and some dried garden hot peppers. I didn't feel it needed salt. Your mileage may vary.

Once cooked, I removed the roast, strained the liquid and reduced it all to a thin gravy consistency and then added it back to the meat, tossed it up and served. One of the wonderful things about an over cooked bit of cheap meat like this is it's easy to drain away a lot of fat and separate out the naughty bits before consumption begins in earnest. Darn tough not to sample as I went along.

Adding a bit of vinegar to the meat adds just that extra something special.

I was really happy with my concoction. Lots of pork flavour. Now I don't think I can wait until next Christmas to make up big pot of petit cochon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jersey Shore - bottom feeding

A young aquantance commented to me that it wasn't "cool" that I was showing some disrespect for the TV show Jersey Shore.

Some of the "cool" kids seem to love the show. I'm not cool by their standards, but I'm thinking they may have misunderstood the term. It's tough to see much of the world when you're viewing it from the bottom feeders perspective and I know that. There might be a bit of sky above, but most is lost when looking from the bottom of the barrel. I really don't mean to be disrespectful, but my distaste for bottom feeding humans can be overwhelming for me and does influence my behaviour at times. This may be one of those times, I'm not sure. I don't have a hate on for bottom feeders, I just think a spade should be called a spade.

Here are some of the ways to obtain the real deal, ever potent, knock them dead types of cool. Don't be fooled by cheap imitations.

Read a book.

Have a dream.


Love someone.

Understand self respect.

Have mentors.

Experience intimacy.

Get your hands dirty working in a garden.

Do your own laundry, well.

If you think it seems wrong, reverse the gender roles and check.

Make love, don't rut.

Practise empathy.

Exceed your own expectations periodically.

Sweat for joy often.

Have kids so you can finish growing up.

Make a plan.

Learn from history.

Make music.

Tame an animal.

Eat real food.

Consider karma.

Hunt with a skilled hunter at least once, especially if you eat meat.

Talk to strangers.

Detach with love.

Be kind.


Don't think with the little head.

Do something nice for someone and don't tell anyone and don't get found out.

Be as still as you can twice a day.


Teach a dog a trick.

Take humility on as a life skill.

Admit you're wrong and apologise early and sincerely.

People before stuff, always.

Men before boys.

Eat something wild every now and again.

Adapt to the seasons with vigour.

Enjoy a winter bonfire.

Care for your body well enough that it responds unmistakably.

Don't fear risk, learn about it.

Ask lots of questions.

Learn another language and remember what it's like to be ignorant.

Don't forget your bike.

Smell a horse.

Acknowledge your shortcomings.

Swing an axe well at least once.

Learn to throw a ball.

Be grateful.

Try not to take things personally.

They wouldn't call them blind spots if we could see them.

Love the one you win.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Somebody else, not me

Collected some of the "not me" images and posted them to my work site. It seems that I spend a disproportionate amount of my time paddling backward through others speedy fixes.

I do it at home a lot too. It's how I spend my days. Making grey laundry white etcetera.The work to be done is everywhere. The gift of marriage is that I've leaned to put relationships first and not stuff. Consequently the living space often more closely resembles a disrespect for stuff. What it is, in fact, is a living demonstration of my willingness to change and embrace chaos more willingly. In this way, I have been introduced to my own humility.

Over the last couple of weeks I've learned how to make a mess on top of the wood stove with wild sage from Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan. What a fantastic and exotic fragrance that stuff lends to the house. It's very different from what we have here locally. I must collect a little cedar to add to the mix. Ah, life in the fast lane. More chaos. Bring it.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fixing a trackball computer mouse

I'm a fix it guy. I'll take a swing at almost anything if it seems worth while keeping. Thanks go to Chris for passing along his old hardware. Muchas gracias brother. Chris is also responsible for some excellent programming that makes me look good at work.

My mouse is one I now value and I'll keep the $75 for a new one and have some fun doing the refurbishment too. The trackball is easy on the hand and, OK, I'm cheap, or "Green" or whatever you want to call it. Re-use rules!

Doing more with less is a theme I've embraced. I don't need a new sweater just because this one is showing some wear. I may put one on that has cleaner lines, to go to town, but around here often even that isn't mandatory. Like I'm fond of saying, I've always wanted to be a peasant. I don't appreciate the airs of wealth, power and prestige. I do highly value wisdom that can, in some cases, come from the uneducated and impoverished. Poverty is the norm here. The land wasn't any good for farming and the population base is thin. The type of land is the type the powers that be would grant for a native reserve just like the one down the road. That, and gardens can be built. The hunting is good!

The gap between my urban and country selves has widened and there is no turning back now. I just hope my urban friends can relate closely enough to recognise some common ground and don't disappear from my life altogether. It's rough and dirty here sometimes, but it has many benefits too.

So I fix things. I repair. I restore. I resurrect. I salvage. My Dad was the very best at making a silk purse out of a sows ear. Sometimes it seemed as if Dad was only truly inspired when there was some meaningless piece of costume jewelery or dollar store wind up toy that a kid had ruined and was wanting repair. He loves to make kids happy. I know that's not his exclusive skill because he was gifted in dancing with precious metals, gem stones, watches and clocks too. Lucky me that I got to be a chunk off the old block. Although that sows ear isn't nearly so attractive to me.

Some people really don't like things that are used, worn or showing some patina, but I'm very fond of healthy wear, especially on something well engineered. When I need some pleasure I often extend the life of something I love. Today it was a computer mouse.

This was a gift from a junk drawer to help bridge the gap between my failing standard laser mouse and a new one being delivered. A little TLC and a twenty minutes of shop time and it's like new. Tools are everything to fussy jobs like this, but if you have them go for it.

The beast


The fix was to drill a hole under the ball, pop it out from underneath and then clean and rotate it to avoid the wear spot when it's popped back into the socket.


The drill was one millimeter in diameter


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter lard logs

One of the many pleasures through the winter season, for me, is in watching the birds swing from the lard log as they eat and I wash dishes. I like variety and winter is just one more cycle to find hidden treasures within. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the negativity regarding winter. It seems to be seamless. I was ruminating on this as I played guitar by the wood stove, dressed in a touque and neck tube trying to build a head of steam to brave the wind and get my outdoor chores done after breakfast. I don't desire for comfort to be consistent.

I like to make and hang lard logs out for the wild birds in the winter. My main motivation to do this was to try and keep the downy and hairy woodpeckers out of my oil seed hopper. Now we see others taking advantage of the hanging mix.

I feed a big hopper of the black sunflower seeds right outside the kitchen table window and woodpeckers make a wasteful mess of it. Because they can't crack the seeds, they flick seeds out of the feeder, holus bolus, while they search for kernels that have escaped their shells. I don't know what the ratio is, but ten thousand to one seems about right. So there tends to be refills from an 18 litre pail of seeds in very tight cycles as they unceremoniously dump seeds on the ground while scrounging for kernels.

I use lard and not shortening. Hopefully, for obvious reasons, but maybe not. Here it comes: Shortening is trans fat. The body does not recognise it as food. If I won't eat it, I sure won't feed it to wildlife.

I think I've finally settled on a good balance of seed to lard in these things so I'll share. When I don't have enough seed incorporated, the log doesn't last a week and that's just not long enough. When I add too many adjuncts, the log gets too hard when it's frozen and the fight to get the calories becomes easier at the oil seed hopper, thus defeating the purpose.

The recipe can contain almost anything as an adjunct. I often add a couple of dollops of peanut butter if I'm feeling generous. I've used tame and wild bird seed too, but plain old black sunflower seeds and the ground grain I feed the layers makes up the majority of the mix. I use quite a bit of the chopped grains I feed to the layer flock, but most people won't have access to that so just make up the difference with whatever you think birds might find attractive. Use your imagination. I'm sure that dry fruit would add a nice touch for some of the birds. I'm interested in attracting a wider variety of birds so I'm beginning to mix it up a bit. I'd really like to have the evening grosbeaks back regularly. They add a lot of colour to the yard.

I save mesh citrus fruit and onion bags to hold the logs and tie a simple granny knot to hold it closed. Then I run a heavy, but malleable wire through and under the knot and then bend the top of the wire into a loop that provides a hanger. I use a step ladder to hang the log well out of the way of any cat access. I try and choose a relatively thin branch far from the trunk and as far up the tree as I can manage.

The additives go into a big bread bowl when I add the softened lard. Mixing this by hand is the best winter hand lotion going. Once it's well mixed, I roll it into a log and load it into the bag. Washing dishes with the birds for company is one more way I enjoy winter.

- Set 454 grams of lard out on the kitchen counter over night.

- Get you mesh bag out and roll it down so it will be easy to set the bottom of your soft log in the bottom of the bag.

- Soften the lard in the microwave for ten seconds or so.

- Toss 680 grams of seed into a big bowl

- Add the softened lard and mix thoroughly.

- In the bowl, form the mix into a log shape.

- Pick up the log and rest it lengthwise in your dominant hand and up your arm, while manipulating the mesh bag over your hand, arm and log.

- Remove your hand, tie the bag end and insert your wire hanger under the middle of the knot and you're ready to brave the ladder.

- Be careful out there. Ladders in the snow can be fun.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Adult Principle #1

JPBarlow's twitter contribution. He's been milking these out over the last few days. They've been enough to prompt me to post. I've been a little off my game. Sometimes I despair.

Adult Principle #1: Be patient. No matter what.

Adult Principle #2: Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn't say to him.

Adult Principle #3: Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.

Adult Principle #4 Expand your sense of the possible.

Adult Principle #5 Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.

Adult Principle #6 Don't ask more of others than you can deliver yourself.

Adult Principle #7 Tolerate ambiguity.

Adult Principle #8 Laugh at yourself frequently.

Adult Principle #9 Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.

Adult Principle #10 Try not to forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.

Adult Principle #11 Give up blood sports.

Adult Principle #12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don't risk it frivolously.

Adult Principle #13 Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)

Adult Principle #14 Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.

Adult Principle #15 Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.

Adult Principle #16 Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.

Adult Principle #17 Praise at least as often as you disparage.

Adult Principle #18 Admit your errors freely and quickly.

Adult Principle #19 Become less suspicious of joy.

Adult Principle #20 Understand humility.

Adult Principle #21 Remember that love forgives everything.

Adult Principle #22 Foster dignity.

Adult Principle #23 Live memorably.

Adult Principle #24 Love yourself.

Adult Principle #25 Endure.

These are right up there in my mind with the whole detach with love stuff.