Friday, June 29, 2012

Property Tax Day and Lousy Weather

Here in BC, our property tax is due on July 3. Rather than wait until the last day, I went down to City Hall yesterday to pay. We are over 65 and get the old age grant and we also live in the house so we get the Home Owner's Grant as well. We paid $1,800.31 after both grants. Without them it would have been $2,845.31. Property values fell here in Campbell River but the mill rate went up. Who could have guessed?

I just finished congratulating myself on having an extra couple of thousand left in the bank this month but every time that happens, something has a way of coming up to take care of it.

It rained all night and is still "moist" this morning. Any outside plans are down the tube. I was inspired by my Blogging friend Rick who repaired his rotting picnic table yesterday. I have been putting this job off for a couple of years now and after reading Rick's post, I decided to tackle the job. The rain put an end to that inspired plan.

We are drowning while some of our American friends are praying for rain. Eve and Steve are in Manitou Springs, Colorado are watching the fire line approach the highway which will probably be their signal to evacuate.

John and Anita Calypso have a place in Puerto Escondido, Mexico which was recently hit by a hurricane and survived. They also have a house in Capitan, New mexico which was just threatened by a forest fire of it's own. They rode out both these threats in their hilltop refuge in Xico, Veracruz where it poured rain. There are not many more "Plagues" that can be thrown at this couple.

Norma and I were just saying this morning that we just might have to wait until November to get some nice weather. That will be as we get down the the Southern States on our way back to Mexico!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not Much going On

We spent a few days at Brooks' and Linda's. The tile in the entry got laid and Linda likes it which is all that counts. It was a little difficult to lay as the lighting was bad and the tile was black and the grout charcoal. Instant eye strain! I intended to put the baseboard back on but Linda wanted to repaint the walls down there  and the baseboard will be easier to paint if it is not nailed down. The kitchen is next but it is on their "Five Year Plan" so is not something we have to worry about right away.

Brooks made a fantastic Tuna Tataki dinner the last night we were there. He is a great chef and the tuna was perfect. He buys sushi grade tuna loin and sears the outside before slicing it thin. Norma is not big on "raw" fish but she actually tasted it this time. She thought it was good but could not bring herself to eating more than a sliver of it. No problem, more for the rest of us. She ate the rice and vegetables.

We got home to see where the deer had removed Norma's netting that she had placed over her flowers. They had a pretty good meal of them while we were gone. This morning we got up to find a mom deer and her two brand new babies on the lawn. Norma shoo'd them away before they could check out the buffet or I could grab my camera. They soon returned with dad who tried to glare Norma down while his family dined. It did not work.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Road Trip!

We are driving down to Brooks and Linda's in Shawnigan Lake to help tile the entranceway of their house. We are taking our tile saw and all the tools so hopefully our part will be to watch and offer advice while they abuse their knees on the concrete floor!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sign Of The Times!

Justin Bieber at the Apollo! This cannot be good!

What has happened to music?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sore Arms!

Our friends Dave and Doris are cutting trees on their rental property just down the beach from us. Yesterday Doris called to see if we wanted some FREE, delivered firewood. They had plenty and had no fireplace or wood heater in their new house and were trying to get rid of the wood. They had rented a splitter so everything was done for me. How could I refuse? We have a sealed woodburning fireplace in the living room and a covered wood storage area out back. The fireplace gets very little use as we are away all winter and the house sitter did not use it. Anyway, free wood is free wood and with the weather we are getting, a nice wood fire would be nice on some cool evenings.

Yesterday I cleaned out the wood storage area of a bunch of old firewood that will be burned in the outside fireplace and started packing the new wood around the house and stacking it. What a job! I am sure my arms are a couple of inches longer from the weight of the wheelbarrow! I just did another five loads today and it looks like I am half way through the pile. Maybe another few loads this afternoon and the rest tomorrow.

The doctor said. "Get more exercise"! Life is good.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Niagara Falls Daredevils

Tonight tightrope walker Nik Wallenda will attempt to walk a 5 cm cable over Niagara falls. This strikes a chord with me as in 1883 my great great grandfather, Capt. Matthew Webb, drowned while attempting to swim under these falls.

Great grampa had already established his credentials by becoming, in 1875, the first person to swim the English Channel. He then moved to the USA and became a circus performer, diving from great heights into shallow pools of water and holding his breath underwater for long periods of time.

He was however, no match for the power of the Niagara River at the base of the falls.

Wallenda will be heading out over the Falls at about 8:15 tonight, weather permitting. He will reluctantly be wearing a safety harness, a condition of receiving permission to make the attempt. I wish him luck!

From Daredevils of Niagara

Captain Matthew Webb 

Captain Matthew Webb was born in England in 1848, one of seven children and went to sea at an early age.

In 1875 he accomplished the feat of being the first person to swim the English Channel from Dover to Calais, a distance of twenty-five miles.

He had also been awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Humane Society when he jumped from a steamer into the water to rescue a man who had fallen overboard.

In 1883 Cpt. Webb visited the falls and inspected the rapids and decided he would be able to swim one of the fiercest set of rapids in the world.

Many told him that he was attempting suicide, but Webb was so confident in his swimming abilities that he believed he could conquer the rapids and finish unscathed.
Captain Matthew Webb
On July 2, 1883 Webb, wearing no life preserver, set out from the Clifton House Hotel at 4 p.m. The event had been well publicized and there were throngs of spectators lining the bridges and gorge. At 4:25, clad only in a red bathing suit he leapt from a small boat from the center of the river into the rapids.

He was seen swimming valiantly under the bridges when a big wave overtook him. Minutes later he was spotted again. Another large wave overcame Mr. Webb and he disappeared under the foaming white water, never to be seen alive again. Webb’s body was recovered four days later in Lewiston.

Eagles Back?

I was working in the yard today when I noticed two huge eagles overhead. They look like "our" eagles who have nested in a tree on the bank behind the house for several years. They were flying along the tree line and engaging in a lively conversation. Were they looking for the remnants of their last nest or scouting out a spot for a new one? Were they checking out spots near the old nest or thinking about moving further down the beach?

I was doing my best by whistling at them and saying "Welcome home". I may also have waved madly at them. I hope they decide to come back to the old tree. They provided us with many happy hours observing them and listening to their chatter as they went about their daily lives and raised their chicks.

They flew off before I went in for my camera so unfortunately I got no photos. However as I was standing on the lawn a pair of brightly colored small birds landed on one of our feeders. I do not know what they are but they spent quite a bit of time around the feeder and bath. maybe they have a nest nearby.

* Contessa has just identified these guys as a pair of American Goldfinches. Thanks Contessa!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bamboo Floors, Two Years later

It has been almost two years since the weekend long marathon of installing our Engineered Bamboo flooring. If you remember, Brooks and Linda came up one weekend in August, 2010 and helped us lay new flooring on the entire main floor. Brooks and I laid the floor while Linda operated the two power saws outside and carried new boxes of flooring in. Norma handed us boards and supervised. (And mopped up blood) ;)

A critical look at the floors today shows they are wearing very well. High traffic areas like doorways show no wear at all. The area around my computer desk probably gets the most use of any area. It has remained wear and scratch free.

The kitchen was installed as a separate floor with a transition in the doorway. This was because we did not really know how it would wear and wanted the option of changing it for tile. Some people and websites warned against laminate in kitchens because of the danger of dropping sharp things and unnoticed water spills. Indeed, the kitchen does show the most wear. I guess this is to be expected. There are a couple of small cuts where knives have been dropped and there are a couple of scratches under the table where a chair leg with an embedded rock chip put down a 3 - 4 inch scratch. This happened the first night we had the floor and encouraged us to immediately pad all chair legs! Spilled water has not been a problem at all, even around the sink and dishwasher door. We used to be terrified of water and raced to wipe it up as soon as it landed. Now we are a little more lackadaisical about it and the odd splash sits on the floor for a while before it gets wiped up. There has been absolutely no water damage. The scratches and cuts in the kitchen are not noticeable unless you look for them and just add to the patina of the floor.

It is important to put nylon or felt pads under all chair and table legs. We settled on the nylon pads that nail (drill first) or screw on as they stay put much better. We put those "disks" under all the heavy furniture legs and so far, there has been no damage. We also had a major red wine spill with no damage. We kept a couple of boxes of flooring in case we have to replace a board or two sometime in the future.

We are very happy with the bamboo floor. The amount of dust in the house has been greatly reduced. Dirt is easy to see and easy to clean up. General cleaning is done once a week with a pad type mop sprayed with a cleaner intended for wood floors. I would choose laminate over carpet every time.

My favorite saw operator and soon to be DIL. She never made a bad cut!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Not Much Happening

We had a nice day yesterday so I washed and waxed the back of the motorhome. I have newfound respect for the Mexicans we hire to wax the thing. The guy in Chetumal worked steadily from 7 AM until 3 or 4 PM to wash and hand wax the entire rig in one day. He then went to his regular job after that.

It is very tiring work, using muscles you do not normally use. I have one of those Simonize buffers that takes some of the work away but you still need a rag (old towel) to polish near obstructions. I decided beforehand to do just one side a day but I may even downgrade from that.  I have all summer! I am using Mexican liquid wax that may be a little harder to remove once it hazes over. I may try a different brand for the next side.

Other than that not much going on. Norma is busy on all good days (and some not so good ones) in her garden. She had me build a bunch of trellis for her plants to climb. I had some imperfect cedar fencing boards that we salvaged from Brooks and Linda's "burn pile" that I ripped to make them so my materiel costs were nil except for a bit of glue and some nails. Their "burn pile" could keep me going with projects all year.

Well, time to look for a NASCAR race on TV. Life is Good!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Depressing Weather!

The weather has been very dismal here in Campbell River since we arrived home in April. We really lucked out and had two sunny days in a row for our outside party but other than that, it has rained. And rained. And rained.

I have a couple of projects waiting for good weather, one of which is to wash and wax the motorhome but I have no idea when I will get a long enough break in the weather to do it. I also bought a small Stanley pressure washer to wash the various patios, walkways and driveway but it is still in the box. Like I say, the weather is depressing. Where is the sun?

Norma's "Lawn Boy" was over yesterday and between sprinkles he cut a couple of feet off the top of the hedge beside the motorhome's parking spot. He also reduced it's thickness enough that I can move the motorhome over a foot or so to free up parking space for the other vehicles. She had him scheduled to come back today to help her weed her flower gardens but we awoke to the sound of rain again.

Brooks and Linda's fencing business is doing well. They do not mind working in the rain and are getting lots of work right now. They also managed to rent out their basement suite which helps with the mortgage payment (and the "Bank of Dad" payment).

Our granddaughter Sierrah hit her second grand slam home run of the season on the weekend so she is basking in the glory right now. Her older sister Jayde, a pitcher, has a couple of no hitters so far this year so both of them might be headed for the majors! We are very proud of both of them, and not just for the baseball. They are great kids! They live in Victoria and we do not see near enough of them but they have their busy lives to lead. Jayde has promised to bring her boyfriend up to meet us sometime this summer. A boyfriend! Man they grow up fast!

Well back to doing nothing! Brooks called the other day to ask if we will come down and help them tile the entryway in their house. We have a tile saw and all the tools so that will be a fun project. We owe them a lot of work after they helped install the bamboo flooring in our house two years ago.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit Of Venus

Today something is happening that will not happen again during any of our lifetimes! The planet Venus is passing between us and the Sun. it will not happen again until 2117 when my granddaughters will be well over 100 years old!

Photos are starting to appear on the Internet. Here is one by astronomer Bradley P. Allen of Manhattan Beach, CA. There is no hope of seeing it here, it is cloudy again. If you have a clear sky, do not stare at the sun. You will damage your eyes! Special equipment is needed.

Transit of Venus 2012-06-05 images from Manhattan Beach, CA

And another by Bill Pinnell, also of California.


Up On The Roof

Norma has been noticing that some of the Starchoice channels we used to get are not coming in on the bedroom TV since we got home. We have two dishes on the roof because each has only four outputs and we have four TV's in the house, two of which are PVR's and require two cables each. I had a spare dish and put it up rather than buy an expensive switch to provide the extra outputs. Anyway, one of the dishes must have blown slightly out of line during one of the winter storms.

Today I hauled a TV, receiver, table, cables and tools up onto the flat roof of the TV room and re-aligned the dishes. The bigger dish (the one I installed myself) gave a reading of about 42 which was a little low. I loosened the bolts and gave it a little tweak to give me a reading of 90. This is about as good as it gets and not worth fighting with it for the extra four or five I might be able to squeeze out of it. The other dish seemed to be good and after seeing the condition the mount was in, I decided to leave well enough alone. There was a ton of rust on the mounting bracket and hardware. I will have to buy a can of rust paint and go up with my wire brush one day to do some maintenance on it. In the meantime I am getting a signal of 81 out of it and considering it is the smaller dish, I am happy.

Another day's work done! This photo BTW, shows our Eagle Tree in the background which sadly is still unoccupied.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wayward Bird Visit

I was glued to the TV yesterday watching a NASCAR race when Norma frantically called to me. A small bird had flown through the open front door and was banging into windows in the kitchen trying to find a way out. When I got there it was laying exhausted on the dinette seat. I started talking to it in a low voice and tried to pick it up but it got it's second wind and flew hard into the window and fell to the floor. Worried it would seriously hurt itself, we closed the door to the living room and tried to gently herd it towards the laundry room which leads to the TV room and it's wide open french doors. It was now "skittering" across the floor in a panic and made it to the laundry room where it hid behind the freezer. I was still talking to it in a low voice, telling her I would not hurt her and finally she came out and spotted the open back door. She took wing and flew out the door, landing on the grass a few feet away to catch her breath. I stayed and talked to her for a few minutes until she flew into the brush on the bank behind the house.

She will have quite a tale to tell her friends and I hope she has decided that she does not want to live in a house. I went back to my race.