Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cooling Down

It is cooling down in BC! I hope it is just temporary but I just barely managed to stay on the porch late enough to watch the end of the Blue Jars game this afternoon (they won!), I also see there was snow on the highway near 100 Mile House in central BC. Come on, give us a break! Snow? It's August!

I also saw a poll showing Trump still enjoys the support of 76% of Republican Voters. Tell me again that Republicans are not racists (at least the vast majority of them). His approval rating among all voters is at 45%. A Facebook reader sent me another poll that confirmed the 76% figure but gave him only 35% among all voters.

We have to remember that Trump was elected with the votes of only 31% of eligible voters  (62 million out of 200 million). By pretty well all polls, he is holding at least that number (35% by my reader's poll, 45% by mine). He just has to get them to the polls and apathetic voters will put him in again. Lets hope he gets impeached or resigns before my theory is put to the test.

Winter Expenses 2016 - 2017

I just noticed I never posted our expenses for the winter of 2016-17. I know many people are interested in this so here it is.

It cost us about $1000 more this year due to increased costs everywhere and a higher rate for our Travel Medical Insurance. "Entertainment" includes gambling and I am happy to report Norma actually made a profit of $20 even after paying for my failed slot machine efforts.


These figures are for just under six months. They do not include RV and car repairs or personal shopping. Also please remember some of these expenses (Fuel Honda, Groceries, Dining out) would have occurred even if we stayed at  home. Our groceries tend to be a lot higher when we travel because of the type of eating we do and the fact that we entertain a lot more often. Bottom line was just under $100 Canadian per day. Speaking of which, the exchange rate was not kind to us.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thinking, Maybe Too Much

I was talking to Norma over coffee this morning and told her I was having trouble getting into the travelling mood this year. She asked If I was having second thoughts and I said yes, I was.

We spent a few thousand on the porch, we are in need of a new roof on the rest of the house which is "sort of" scheduled for September and we are going on a trip to Ireland next July. Adding around $4000 for medical insurance for the winter plus all the gas and RV parks added to the equation is taking me a bit out of my financial comfort zone.

We could do it. We could take the money out of our savings but I don't really want to do that. It is a "Rainy Day" fund and it is not raining.

Norma says if I want to take a year off our winter travels this year it would be fine with her. I think Brooks and LindaLee want to fly back to Cabo San Lucas this winter for a couple of weeks and we could tag along with them to get some sunshine. Norma also says she would like to take a trip in BC before Fall.

Nothing is cast in stone, we are just thinking.

Plus there is this "Trump" thing going on and I hate supporting him in any way and keeping some of my money in my pocket would be one way to express my disgust with him and those who support him.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Yet Another New Router

Telus is coming out this morning to replace the router they just replaced with a "Fibre Ready" model. I don't know how close we are to getting fibre but this is a promising step.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Porch Improvements

I added a 750/1500 watt Infra Red heater. It will be on a thirty minute spring loaded countdown timer to keep power costs under control. 1.5 KWh @ $0.12 / KWh X 1/2 hour = nine cents per half hour. Manageable.

The other thing I added is simply self-indulgent! Morning news and afternoon Blue Jays games! This is the old TV from the bedroom of our first motorhome and has not been used in a decade. If it works out I may change it out for a larger flat screen and mount it up higher in the roof area. It is a work in progress.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Lilies

Campbell River is under severe watering restrictions but Norma is still allowed to hand water her flowers. They are not doing as well as in previous years but not bad under the circumstances. Here is a lily bush (tree?) that she was particularly proud of this morning.



She has an alternate source of water. We have a 365 day a year stream on the back slope that we could easily use to fill buckets. It would be a little more work but her flowers will survive any drought. :)

Current restrictions:
Days permitted:
  • Even numbered address: Monday only
  • Odd numbered address: Thursday only
  • NO WATERING ON TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY OR SUNDAY
Times permitted:  5:00 a.m – 9:00 a.m and 7:00 p.m – 10:00 p.m
Watering gardens, trees, shrubs and community gardens by hand or spring-loaded type nozzles with automatic shut-off connected to hose is allowed at any time during the day in all stages of watering restrictions.

Friday, August 4, 2017

My Extension Ladder

I have very little use for an extension ladder. Maybe two or three times a year when I change the flag for a new one or have to adjust the satellite dish after a storm. Not often. I inherited Norma's dad's ladder several years ago and have been happy with it. It's not perfect. It won't extend because it is bent or something but I never have to extend it, nothing around here is that high. It has one bent step and one step missing. Well, not really "missing", it was just designed that way. There is a gap where the step should be. But I know it is missing and just remember, "the second step from the ground in missing". No problem.

Well, last year I had the lawn mowing guy, a former roofer, go up on the roof and install three vents. He did not like my ladder and it's missing and bent step (one of each) and made a fuss of it. "I won't climb that ladder again", he said. Fair enough.

Then Brooks and CJ came up to build the porch and CJ had to use the ladder to build the roof and he didn't like the ladder either. Same reason(s). One bent step and one missing step. But he used it anyway.

The lawn guys came by while the ladder was leaning against the house. "You still using that killer ladder?", he asked. As a matter of fact, yes I am.

He told me one of his customers had given him a new extension ladder and that he would bring it over for me. He would rather give it to me than see someone break something on the "Killer Ladder". Today he fulfilled his promise and brought the ladder over. Now I had two.

So I wrote a cardboard sign saying, "FREE LADDER" and put the ladder and the sign down at the end of the driveway on the highway. I knew it wouldn't last long and it didn't. Twenty minutes later a pickup stopped and made off with my ladder. I left no fine print about the minor defects.

Image result for dangerous ladder cartoon

Through The Smoke!

This was the sun at about 6:30 this morning bravely trying to burn through the smoke from the forest fires!


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Happy Birthday Norma!

Norma's Birthday Today!
75 today she swims and works in the garden. Goodness knows how good a shape she would be in if she had have actually taken care of herself! :Happy Birthday Norma! Photo later. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Skirting The Porch

I raided Brooks' burn pile when we were down there and scored about a hundred short (2 - 3 foot) ends of nice 1X4 fir. They weighted down the trunk a bit but I got them home and today I skirted the new porch with them. Hmm.. 20 feet times three per foot = 60 two foot pieces or 120 feet = 12 ten foot boards. Wow! Saved me a few dollars! Thanks Brooks, you are still my favorite son! Love that burn pile!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Not So Friendly Skies

When our friends Roly and Cristy flew from their home in Cuba to Victoria, BC they were anxious to try "First World" cuisine as soon as possible. To this end, they boarded their Air Canada flight on empty stomachs, knowing they could buy food on board. Well, they perused the menu, made their selections and ordered only to discover they could not be served!

Why? Because Air Canada accepts only credit cards for payment of food and drink, not lowly cash! And like most or all good Cubans, our friends do not have a credit card. Cuba being a "cash society" and all.

So here they were starving on a plane not scheduled to land for another nine hours! What to do? Well, they found a seatmate willing to pay for their food with his capitalist inspired credit card and they would reimburse him with their nice fresh Canadian cash! Problem solved and they had met the first helpful Canadian of their trip!

Roly and Cristy!

It was a short but quality visit but we did get to see our Cuban friends for a few hours! They have been on the Island for three weeks and have a couple more days in Victoria before catching the plane from Victoria to Calgary, to Toronto and then finally, Havana.

They are shell shocked by their first visit to a decadent first world country. Roly has been to Equator and Cristy, when she worked in the Cuban government went on a diplomatic visit to several Socialist / Communist European countries but this was their first time in the "West".

They had just spent a few days in Port Alberni and those people dropped them off here at about noon. Norma and Brooks prepared a series of snacks featuring our local shrimp and smoked Sockeye salmon which was well received!

We had to get them to the Brentwood Bay Ferry by 5:30 and LindaLee was working in the local pub so Brooks and I took them there to say goodbye. Roly and Cristy loved the friendly atmosphere and confessed it was their first visit to a Canadian pub! Their other friends did not take them to one.

Cristy was sporting a broken arm, the result of a fall at the beginning of their visit! A souvenir from Canada!

We dropped them off at the ferry, said our goodbye's and promised to see each other again. Here are some photos.

Important Discussions:

Cristy and Norma:

Cristy and Croft:

"We love this bar!"

Two Amigos:

Two Amigas:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Off To Meet Our Cuban Friends

We are off to Brooks and LindaLee's in Shawnigan Lake today to meet our Cuban friends Roly and Cristy who are visiting Vancouver Island. They have a full itinerary and will only be there for the one day (Sunday) but we are really happy to get the chance to  see them. I will have photos soon.

Here are Roly and Cristy in their home in Santa Marta, Cuba:



Brooks' Birthday Party at Roly and Cristy's house:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rain!

We are finally getting a little rain up here! Not much but hopefully enough to make the forests a little safer and remove the campfire and burning ban.

But the part that I like best is a chance to test the new roof, gutters, skylights and rain chain! After an hour or so I am ready to declare everything working as expected!

EDIT: A leak has appeared behind one spot on the gutter where it makes a 90 degree turn. The problem may be in the roofing or in the gutter. I called the gutter guy and he will drop around later today to have a look.

EDIT 2: Well, the gutter guy came and found the problem. It is a shingle problem that he fixed by shoving a piece of flashing up under the shingle. It should hold it until we get the rest of the roof done.


The Leak:



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trimming

The woman we hired to haul away the construction refuse is actually a professional gardener. Norma showed her around and arranged for her to come back today to do some trimming. I like her! She is not afraid to cut deep and she knows what she is doing. One particularly thorny tree that was taking over one of the patios is now almost completely gone and we got our patio back. Some other large bushes are no longer hanging over into the condo's yard next door and she has at least one truckload of trimmings ready to go and is nowhere near done yet! Lets see what she does with the roses that are growing up onto the roof!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Rain Chain Drain

We drilled about a hundred holes in two large planter buckets, sank them into the lawn and filled them with rocks from the beach. Hopefully they will drain into the sandy soil around them and handle all but the heaviest rainfalls. I anchored the rain chains to the bottom of the buckets so they will not blow around in the wind. Further modification "might" be required.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nothing to Do

Tinkering away. I used up some scraps of decking to replace the grungy old top of our old DIY cafe table in the garden. Then I went down and bought some more cedar boards and built a seating bench for the deck. It now has just about enough furniture.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rain Chain Test!

Rain Chain! No, it's not raining, I'm cheating.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Gutters and Rain Chain!

At about ten this morning the gutter truck pulled up the driveway. They installed the new facia board, modified and replaced the existing gutter that Brooks Randle and C.J. Howie took down to build the porch. They then manufactured the new gutters for the porch, tied everything together and added the rain chain brackets.
Norma and I drove downtown and bought four four and a half foot sections of rain chain for the 8 - 9 foot height of the gutters, came home and attached them. We made up for the lack of rain with the garden hose and tested them. They work exactly as we hoped!
The gutter work and brackets cost $505 and the Rain Chain, $245 for $750 total.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Night Shots

Beautiful!


A Day of Rest?

A day of rest! I returned $250 worth of unused hardware and stuff to Home Depot and then I tried out my $29 Harbor Freight belt sander on the deck rails and got my money's worth out of it right there!
The gutter guy came, took some measurements and will order the rain chain brackets for the gutter. He will do the job in two weeks.
Norma called a woman who does dump runs so she is busy loading up the pile of old shingles and construction leftovers that I can't burn.
Now, what was I doing? Oh yes, resting! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Reveal!

Two full ten hour days for Brooks and CJ and we are almost done, We are short two posts and the facia boards. Unfortunately all building supply stores except Home Depot were closed for the Canada Day weekend and they did not have a few things.

CJ connects the lighting. Norma and Brooks' very late night Internet purchase a couple of weeks ago. The Budget Director had no say in that one. 



Two posts and facia missing. The stairs will eventually be covered with cedar as well.

Juneau the Husky likes it! A great place to eat dinner!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Busy Day!

Today Brooks and his roofer friend C.J. got the roof framed and boarded. C.J. stayed up there until after seven nailing down roofing paper as there is a 20% chance of rain tonight and we don't want a 3 AM wake up call with rain coming through the roof! Tomorrow will be another busy day.







Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Whale Of A Time!

Two large whales have been sounding between our house and the tip of Quadra Island for the last half hour or so. They appear to be heading north but have stopped in the tide rip for the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet! Too far away for photos, all we can see is a periodic spray of water and then the large black hump as they dive after breathing.

They left after being surrounded and bothered by sightseeing boats.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lazy Summer Days

Lazy days here on the coast! The weather has turned good again so there are sunny days to look forward to. Short pants weather here but not the severe heat our Arizona friends are facing, I can't imagine 120 degrees plus. We would be running the A/C 24/7!

Our niece Robin and George from Alberta dropped by on their big Harley for a surprise but always welcome visit a few days ago. They were headed for the Port Hardy - Prince Rupert ferry where George wanted to follow the Yellowhead Highway #16 back to Edmonton, visiting all the places he worked during his many years with the railroad. They spent a couple of days here while they determined the weather had changed for the worse in the north and they would be riding in the rain all the way. They made the decision to head back south to Victoria and the Port Angeles ferry to Washington State and back home that way. They are like us, no schedules, no reservations and no worries when plans change.

Brooks called to say his trip up to finish the porch would be delayed a week which is fine with us. We are still using the old concrete landing and stairs so a week delay is no problem.

Norma is working in her garden and I am getting a few odd jobs done around the place as well as catching up on my reading. Lazy summer days!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Victoria

We just returned after spending a couple of days in Victoria visiting Norma's 73 year old brother who had a stroke a few weeks ago. He is in the hospital facing the confusion of having other people making decisions for him. He has a good support group of friends but was happy to have contact with his sister.

We discovered to our shock that the affordable hotels we have used in the past are now in the $200 per night range! We called Norm and Liz who we knew and worked with back in our political years. We spent a few hours catching up with each other's lives and solving the world's problems and then spent the night in their guest room. It was a very pleasant night!

Sunday morning we went back to the hospital to check in with Willea again and to make sure the staff had Norma's contact information. After an hour or so we headed back home, stopping in Qualicum Beach for a feed of fish and chips on the beach. It is about a four hour drive each way.

We are now in relaxation mode for a day or two before getting back into the job jar. We do not know exactly when Brooks is going to come back up but when he does he is bringing a roofing friend with him as Brooks is not comfortable working that high up. Things will go a lot faster with some help.

When I showed Norm and Liz the photos of our project Norm said, "You are building a Longhouse!"

Friday, June 9, 2017

All For Now

Now we can see a bit of what it will look like. Brooks and LindaLee headed back home just after noon as they have to get back to real (paying) work tomorrow and everyone was pretty wiped out from handling those very heavy timbers. I was out of commission with my ankle but LL and Brooks got all the trusses cut and two of them raised. They will be back in a week or so with a worker to finish up. So far it is looking very good! We are so lucky to have Brooks and LindaLee who gave up their "weekend" to work up here!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

End Of The Day!

End of the day! Got a lot done but I do hold Brooks back. My 72 year old legs just do not move as fast any more. Basic framing done!





Started!

Plans are written in sand, not stone and that is a good thing! We got the two main uprights dug and cemented in last night. It will be just under 200 square feet and will have a solid roof with skylights! Today we attach to the house and get the framing started. We will be short a few pieces but they will be hidden so the difference between the "store bought" and Brooks' full dimension lumber will not be visible.
Oh yes, the material is Douglas Fir, not cedar. My mistake. But Brooks assures me that fir is a very good product for the job and will last longer than me! :)
The rain woke me up at 5:00 am. I will try to go back to sleep!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Porch Day!

Brooks is coming up today with a trailer full of cedar to frame our new front porch. It is going to get very busy around here! The "plan" is framing today, decking tomorrow and the roof next week. The roof is still being discussed. Norma wants an open, pergola style while Brooks is suggesting a closed, shingled style, extending the existing peak. That decision will be made tomorrow.

Before:


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Front Porch

Brooks just had a customer bail out of a project after the material was ordered and he is stuck with a trailer full of cedar that he thinks is enough to build a front porch on our house! He is bringing it up next week! 

The new porch will cover the small concrete landing and stairs currently at the front of the house and will extend out a bit and along under the living room window. It will have a pergola style roof and will be a great place to sit and enjoy a morning coffee or lunch!

Exciting times! I just have to pay his bill at the saw mill, buy the food and beer, pay for his gas and all the extra bits and pieces :). 

But we are getting a porch!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mazda Maintenance

Norma's 1998 Mazda 626 just keeps running and gets pretty much ignored maintenance wise. Oh, it gets oil changes, tires and whatever else it needs when something fails but it has never had a real tuneup and at 181,000 KM (112,000 Miles) still had it's original timing belt.

So a few days ago we decided to give it a treat and sent it in. Changing the timing belt involves getting inside the engine so as long as he was in there it made sense to change a couple of other things as well so with a tuneup it turned into a pretty big job.

The mechanic called at noon to say it was ready to be picked up and the bill was $1,120 CAN ($830 US). It runs the same as it did before but now it will be good for another couple of hundred thousand kilometers. Norma likes it but it's not my favorite car I have owned, that title probably belongs to my first car, a 1959 Volvo 144, the old fastback model I bought in 1963. the year I graduated and got my first full time job. It was a rally car, fun to drive and indestructible!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Solar Panel On!

Finished! I got a late start because I waited for Norma's lawn guy to arrive so he could pass the panel up to me on the roof. I thought of doing it with a rope but it could easily have swung into the side of the motorhome.

The aluminum brackets bolted on easily.
 Yup, lots of room beside the back panel.

Dave's bracket screwed in place on a bed of very soft, sticky butyl rubber. This will be covered with a good coating of Dicor self leveling sealant.

All done. The old panels really needed a cleaning!

All three panels wired in to the back of the controller. EDIT: I have now increased the size of the output wires shown to #10.

and back on the wall!

It is getting harder and harder to climb up and down and to work on my knees up there but I got it done in a couple of hours. The batteries are happily charging at 14.7 volts. Everything is good!