Monday, June 29, 2009

A Little Colour




From Norma’s garden.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ah, To Be 40 Again!

As we speak, my son and his girlfriend are cruising down I-5 from L.A. to San Diego in a rented Mustang convertible! Ah, to be young again. Why couldn't he have taken me instead? Oh, yes... I get it...

Back to my painting...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Painting In The Sticks And Bricks

We started painting the spare bedroom today. We had it drywalled to cover up some 60's wallboard with a floral design that has become too out-dated. We had to give it a base coat before painting it the final colour. I actually do not mind painting and am fairly good at it and I learned long ago to buy the best (most expensive) paint available and it will go on easily and cover well.

This time however, it did not go on all that easily, probably because it is the first time I have painted a newly drywalled surface. The final coat goes on tomorrow and then comes the real fun of moving all the furniture back in and figuring out how to put the plugs and light switch back on after the addition of the drywall moved the wall surface out by a half an inch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jobless for 3,400 Days

I have been jobless for almost 3,400 days now!

That is if you do not count the bottomless "Job Jar" at home and tweaks to our second home, the Tioga. In my working life I never experienced unemployment. I changed careers a couple of times when I was young but always had a new job to go to before I quit the last one. I always knew what I would be doing the next day even though I had little control over it. The last twenty years or so I really did not have a boss.

I, along with everyone else in the Radio Maintenance Department of the Telephone Company, were what evaluators called "Self-Managed". I never found myself in the position of having to ask what they wanted me to do, it was always (sometimes painfully) obvious what had to be done. I had at least one boss who did not actually know what I did for a living and never had the occasion to ask. My job could be described as weeks of tedious boredom (preventative maintenance) interspersed with hours of sheer panic (when something broke and a community became isolated - usually at two in the morning).

One of my partners once said to me, "Croft, nobody ever tells us what to do. A couple of weeks ago I wondered what would happen if I did nothing, so for three days I did nothing. I sat at the workbench and read and puttered. I listened to the radio and went for coffee. The boss came in a couple of times, said hi and left. He never asked me why I was sitting there doing nothing when all my workmates were out doing things. After almost three days I got very bored and found something to do". The rest of us never noticed either. We were all out "Self Starting".

Those great days are now over. Now I have a boss who tries to micro manage me. It is a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there! We are on our way down to Victoria to our son's place where he will be preparing a huge dinner for his favorite dad tomorrow night! As a bonus we get to see the granddaughters.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Norma’s Flower Garden

Norma’s flower garden did really well while we were in Edmonton. The temperatures were up in the 30’s and there was lots of moisture at night. Her flowers turned out at least as good as those we saw at the Minter Gardens on the way home.






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All watched over by my faithful parrot who followed us home from Mexico!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A new Cell Phone

I bought a new cell phone! It is a Samsung SGH-D600E that I got off eBay for a song. It is “reconditioned” but like all the reconditioned items I have bought, is indistinguishable from the brand new product. They retail in Canada for around $300 and I got it for $66. It arrived in the mail yesterday from Hong Kong. It will replace my six year old Nokia flip phone whose screen suddenly went dead.

It is a “Slider” style which means the keypad remains hidden behind the body of the phone until you slide it down to make a call. I have had “Flip” style and “Candy Bar” style phones in the past. I think I prefer the flip style as it cannot make phone calls from your pocket. This Samsung has an auto locking feature that prevents this but the downside is, you have to unlock it before taking a call. I have not given it a fair chance yet and will probably get to like it. I ordered screen guards to keep it from getting scratched by keys in my pocket so I will have to take care until they arrive.

The most important features are that it is 1) Quad Band which means it will work anywhere in the world and 2) it is unlocked so I can use it with all three of my cell phone plans simply by changing the SIM card as I cross borders. I have the 7-11 plan here in Canada which is affiliated with Rogers, T-Mobile in the USA and Telcel in Mexico. They are all pay-as-you-go plans and I just buy more time as required. The Canadian and USA plans let you keep your time for 12 months. The Telcel plan is only good for 3 months but the refills in Mexico are only $100 Pesos. I seldom use my cell phone so this works out well for me and only costs a total of around $70 per year.


I wonder if the good looking "friends" pictured on the phone come with it?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Project Done!

On the way home from Mexico we bought two Sharp flat screen LCD TV’s to replace the old fashioned ones we had that would not receive the digital off-air signals the USA is presently converting to. They are 20 inch, wide screen and high definition. The price was very good at $198 each with no tax in the State we bought them.

The front one I installed as soon as we got home using some strong angle brackets that I painted black and bolted to the turntable the original TV sat on. This has been in for a few weeks now and is very solid.

The bedroom TV I installed today and it was more difficult. It had to be attached to the wall and tilted out a little towards the center of the room. The old TV sat on a flip down shelf mounted to (and partly inside) the wall. The shelf did not look all that securely mounted so we always took the TV down and set it on the floor when we traveled. This was not the best solution because it was always in the way and it was only a matter of time until I forgot to take it down and either the TV would fall off the shelf or, worse yet, the shelf would pull out of the wall and everything would fall! The lowered shelf also provided a great place for Norma to bang her head as she made the bed.

Commercial brackets require lag bolting them to studs in the wall and RV’s have none of those. RV walls are quite thin and made with a couple of sheets of paneling and 1X2’s for studs. Mine actually have a sheet of thin plywood on each side under the paneling. I solved the problem by combining a cheap but strong wall mounting bracket from Wal Mart with a strong angle adapter piece that I made from 3/4 inch plywood and a piece of 2X4. I cut out the pieces and glued and screwed them together. I then mounted my adapter to the front of the old flip down shelf using six screws through the shelf. I then drilled a 3/8 inch hole through the shelf and the wall and into a medicine cabinet on the other side of the wall. I placed a 3/8 inch bolt through everything and hid the large washer and nut inside the medicine cabinet. I wrapped all the cables out of sight around the mount and strapped an inverter to the top of the adapter behind the TV. Nice job if I must say so myself!

Bedroom TV:

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Front TV:

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Kamloops to Home

We got a good rest in the Kamloops Wal Mart. It was very quiet and cool enough to sleep. Perfect conditions. We visited the dollar store where everything actually IS $1! The had packs of three pens with Canadian flags on them for $1 so we stocked up. They make great gifts for children in Mexico.

We stayed on Highway 5 to Hope where we turned onto Highway 1 to Chilliwack where we stayed in yet another Wal Mart. The sleep here was not quite so peaceful as they chose that night to power sweep the parking lot. But it was free so what the heck.
We stopped early that day because Norma wanted to visit Chilliwack's Minter Gardens. It was very nice and we spent a couple of hours strolling through the gardens. This inspired Norma and she bought a bunch of plants to take home to her garden.


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We caught the 12:30 ferry on Friday and were home around 5:00. The drywallers we hired to do the back bedroom and the TV room ceiling had not finished (read barely started) as promised and the living room and bedroom was full of furniture with no room to move around! Luckily we have another bedroom parked in the driveway so we will be spending the next few nights in the motorhome.

Note: We found out the workers lost the house key after the first day so they had to wait for us to come home to finish! After all the effort we went to to make sure we would be gone when all the mess happened.....

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hinton to Kamloops

The jerk with the running semi stayed parked right in front of us pretty much all night. If the drone of his diesel had of stayed constant all night I could have managed to sleep but it kept changing frequency as his reefer cut in and out. I thought of moving a couple of times but the thought of putting the slide back in made me hesitate and by then the diesel changed frequency allowing me to drift off again. This went on until three or so when he finally decided he had ticked me off enough and he moved on to the next Wal Mart.

Don’t get me wrong. I have great sympathy for truck drivers and I also know they have to keep their reefers running while they sleep. What make me mad is when they see someone in an RV is parked and sleeping and they pull right up beside them to park, knowing they are making it impossible for anyone to sleep. This is what ticks me off!

The resulting quiet made for a great sleep for the rest of the night and it was almost ten when I awoke. We headed into the Rockies, stopping once to take some shots of a Big Horn Sheep that was wandering across the highway for a drink from the lake. We made only one other stop for a very expensive sandwich from the Mt. Robson Cafe and Visitors Center before turning South on Highway 5 for Kamloops. We found a Wal Mart that we stayed in before and had dinner at Montana’s Steak House. We get two channels on the TV so we are set for the night. NO IDILING TRUCKS so Life is Good!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Prized Document Found

My niece, Robin and her cousin Elizabeth from Ottawa were going through papers and photos (there are a ton of them) when they came across something they handed to me to deal with. It is a speech written for T.C. “ Tommy” Douglas, then Premier of Saskatchewan and former leader of the CCF / NDP Political Parties in Canada and who is generally acknowledged as the “Father” of Canada’s Socialized Medicare. Douglas also the grandfather of actor Keifer Sutherland, star of the TV series “24”. The document is dated August 2nd, 1961 and is a typed original, complete with hand written corrections and annotations in red ink, perhaps in the great man’s own handwriting. It is Tommy Douglas’ speech for the Founding Convention when he was running for (and won) the leadership of the newly formed New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP).

My brother’s late wife, Willow, was the granddaughter of Arthur Moran Boutillier (1869 – 1955) who served as Member of Parliament for the Progressive Party of Canada, aka. “United Farmers”, representing the rural Alberta Riding of Vegreville. In 1961 the United Farmers and Labour’s Party, the Canadian Commonwealth Federation (CCF) amalgamated to form the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) of which I have been a member since the early 1970’s. His son, Heubert Ried Boutillier, Willows father, was active in the CCF and the NDP as well so that is probably where the document came from.

I have a friend in Nanaimo, Dale Lovic, who is a Tommy Douglas historian. I will call and ask Dale what I should do with the document. It is too important to just file away for another fifty years.

Douglas 1961

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Catching Up

Well, that was a whirlwind of a few days! We arrived at my brother’s house in Edmonton at about 5:00 and visited with some neighbours and a couple of relatives who popped in. The neighbours talked about how they should have caught on that something was wrong when he turned down a couple of dinner invitations in the week before he died. My brother knew a good thing when he saw it and NEVER said no to a free home cooked meal! He also excused himself from the traditional Saturday morning breakfast at the local casino with friends and neighbours. That was also very out of character for him but when questioned, he told people he was just a little “out of sorts” and would be fine.

As I said, it was very strange not having him come barging around the corner giving me a hard time about plugging into his electric.

I picked up my sister and her daughter from Toronto area on Thursday. It was nice seeing her again, it had been a while. She was married and moved east soon after I got around to being born so we have always had a long distance relationship except for the one time we took an RV trip to California together for a couple of weeks.

Things started getting hectic soon after she arrived. We went out to the family cemetery Saturday morning. We all went in the motorhome so we would have a chance to escape for a few minutes if we wanted and it also provided a nice rest room for the women. It was a double funeral as a member of the other family that shares the cemetery passed away over the winter as well. The “younger” family members had started working early in the day and the grass was mowed, trees were limbed and stones were scrubbed by the time we got there and got settled. The holes were dug and the local Preacher arrived to do his thing at 1:00. His daughter Robin tossed a small bottle of single malt into the grave before his youngest son Darcy placed the urn in the hole. Two of my brothers’ granddaughters did an eulogy for him and made a fantastic job of it! Thanks Crystal and Karen, we are all very proud of you! Even your grandpa would not have had any complaints!

After the service we all headed over to a cousin’s nearby farm for a huge potluck dinner and a get-together over a couple of cold beer. We left there after dinner and got back to the house around 8:00, totally drained, emotionally and physically!

The next couple of days we visited with close relatives and friends of Gordon’s. Norma and I took Gloria and Dianne over to the see the tiny house that our dad built in the late Thirties and that we lived in until moving to Vancouver in 1955 when I was ten. The house is still standing and looks like it might be a rental. The painstaking construction is still evident. The house is only 24’ X 25’ = 600 square feet on the main floor with a full basement and small attic. The garage/workshop out back is larger than the house. It all seemed bigger when I lived there.

I dropped Gloria and Dianne off at the airport at around noon today. It was hard to let go of her. She is 82 but looks and certainly acts much younger.

We are parked in a Wal Mart in Hinton, Alberta and will make our way through the Rockies tomorrow on our way home. It has been a tough week!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Rocky Mountains to Edmonton

We arrived in Edmonton last night and parked in front of my brother's house. It is very strange being here without him. The reality of his death is beginning to hit home. We chatted with a couple of his neighbours and called my nephew, Darcy. Darcy soon came over to visit and then Jason, my brothers' grandson and neighbour dropped in as well.  We had a nice visit and then settled down for the night. I pick up my sister at the  airport tomorrow.

Here are a couple of National Park residents who came down to the road to watch the strange creatures in the metal boxes drive by.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back To Oliver

The old 89 Honda ran perfectly once again and got us to Oliver by 8:00 pm. I am feeling bad about how I have neglected the dependable old beast. It has 250,000 Kilometres on it but you would never know it. It revs up to the red line when I accelerate and shifts through the gears with a snap. There is nothing wrong with it and it will probably be around for at least another 100,000 if not more! There is a slight leak in one of the gaskets under the hood, allowing a tiny bit of oil to leak out onto the exhaust manifold, producing a little smoke and smell when I start it up after it has sat for a couple of days. It is a very tiny leak and I have never had to add oil between oil changes which I try to do every 5000 or 6000 KM. It has never been in an accident but there are a couple of parking lot dings and one bit of rust near one of the rear wheel wells. The paint is showing signs of too much Arizona and Mexico sun so maybe I will give it a treat in Mexico next winter and buy her a two or three thousand peso paint job.

We called Rick and Sandra at their Maple Leaf Motel & RV Park to ask them to save a room for us for the night. When we arrived, Sandra gave us our key and told us to drop off our bags and to come to the patio for a glass of wine. One turned into several and the conversation went on until we had polished off two bottles of Sandra’s “good stuff”. She has very good taste so I am sure what we paid for the room would not even replace the wine. Thanks Sandra, the wine will be on us next time!

I was awake at seven this morning, got Norma out of bed, thanked Rick and Sandra and were soon on the road. We picked the motorhome up with it’s new convection oven and headed towards Kamloops. From Kamloops we took Highway 5 North towards The Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16). This is a favourite of the truckers because it is the least mountainous route across the Rockies to Edmonton. We have not been on this stretch of road for a few years and I had forgotten how beautiful it is. We stopped for gas at a Husky Station in Blue River and got permission to park in their lot for the night. The mosquitoes are vicious here so I hope I can kill all of them that snuck in the door before I go to bed. Tomorrow night we will be parked in front of my brother’s house in Edmonton.