Yes, we’re closed

End of the season

I brought the last load of firewood in on Friday. I’ve lost track of how many loads it’s been, but fewer than normal due to the extra capacity of the truck and the shed is fuller than ever before. Curiously I now have to start splitting right away as the weather is going cold; it’s been well below freezing every night but with daytime highs in the 20s, and those highs are expected to leave this week. Followed by maybe some rain and maybe some snow in time for a significant drop in temperatures. We’ve gotten away with quite an extended Summer this year, albeit not without price: 90% less rainfall than normal in the past three months with resulting environmental stresses including wildfires still burning.

In view of all that I went out Sunday to ‘close up’. This is a significant procedure as I have to remember to bring back anything that won’t survive months of freezing, and close down all the systems including draining water lines and putting antifreeze in plumbing traps. It takes a little over an hour to get there, another such time period to return (with a side trip to dispose of garbage), and to do all the stuff in between a couple more. Makes for an intense day to say the least.

I brought two cameras with me on this last trip; the venerable Nikon (which operates at about 90% failure rate these days) and the Canon 1Ds. I took no pictures (the image is from the prior trip). There just wasn’t anything to photograph. We’re at that dull time where Autumn has done its thing and Winter waits in the wing. The wildlife has scurried to dens or warmer climates and nothing much going on. I did see a party of hunters along the way, with nearly a dozen trucks and trailers and ATVs all getting ready for their big adventure. Too bad they set out too late in the day and too late in the season. Only four remained at the spot on my return trip. I could tell them a lot about what they’re doing wrong, but I’m not going to. Hunting has become a very foolish ‘sport’ which bears little resemblance to the actual practice. So if all the animals want to hide out at my place, that’s fine by me.

Now it’s time to gear up for the next adventure of sending the Mrs. off to England to look after her sister for what may be the last time. It is not a good situation, but we are determined that she will have as good of final years as is possible for what little time she has left.

Bonus (short) videos from the photographer who doesn’t do video:

The Goose Family Robinson

Finding Miss Raven

I’ll be doing more regular photography as soon as I see something to take a picture of.

 

Another boring lens test post

Okay, I bought a Canon 50mm f1.8 EF lens. I would not have done so if a 40% off the lowest regular price around sale had not come up. I especially would not have done so if I’d known about the unexpected $250 in vet bills that came up afterwards or the unexpected $186 in other expenses or the price of gasoline going back over $2 per litre. Let’s face it; if we could see the future we’d all win the lottery.

But it seems every Canon owner has one of these lenses so … why not me? Just how good is it anyway?

50mm on the 1Ds.
40mm on the 1Ds.

The quality is almost identical to the 40mm ‘pancake’, and indeed it’s not much bigger. For general shooting, both are ‘good’ but neither are ‘excellent’. In fact not only does the classic Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 utterly destroy them in sharpness, the venerable Nikon P610 is also noticeably better (when it actually manages to get a correct focus lock, which is rare these days). This is the sort of thing that makes me want to try a Nikon DSLR.

Now let’s see the two lenses on the crop sensor Canon T100 (from the same place):

40mm on the T100 – about 64mm equivalent.
50mm on the T100 – about 80mm equivalent.

(You may notice the T100 overexposes and the colours are not as rich.)

How is the 50mm for really close-up sharpness?

On the T100 – notice focus did not lock in the right place.
Segment of 100% image at the sharpest area.

Of course these were taken wide-open to give it the toughest test. Again, it’s good but not excellent. Frankly I expect better from Canon. Oh I get it: you’re supposed to spend the big money and buy their top quality lenses instead of spending reasonable amounts and getting mediocre results. That’s another shoot-yourself-in-the-foot strategy from Canon, which goes with their no-third-party-RF-series-lenses announcement. They don’t seem to get the idea of “brand = reputation” and that people will accept lower quality from ‘off-brand’ makes at lower prices but won’t accept lower quality from ‘name brand’ makes at any price. (I have seen this failed marketing strategy before, as in when certain car makers introduced junky low-priced cars to ‘compete’ with the import makes when all they wanted was to get people into showrooms and talk them into higher priced, higher profit vehicles.)

So it’s not the best lens, but can you take a good picture with it?

Evening sky with the 50mm on the 1Ds. No adjustments other than sizing.
Fuzzy seeds with the 50mm on the T100. Cropped and sharpened.

Yes, I guess so. Although it seems to work better on the 1Ds (full frame) than on the T100 (crop sensor). The ‘medium’ focal length afforded by the 1.6 factor on the APS-C camera puts the lens in a range I don’t normally use. Frankly it’s a little disappointing over-all, like every purchase I’ve made lately.

Anyway … Once this holiday weekend is over it’s on with the wood harvest (a couple more loads at most) and then close up the cabin for the season.

Marley finds lens testing boring.

What’s going on around here.

Morning comes late these days.

The days are quickly getting shorter. We’ve been having weird Summertime warmth after our two killing frosts, which helps with the wood harvesting. I’m almost done. (I’m always almost done, no matter what it is I’m doing.)

When things go wrong, it slows things down.

Now that is what happens to a chain when the tree decides to fall the wrong way and traps the saw. I have noticed that my diminished eyesight has made ‘reading’ trees rather difficult, which increases the fun of felling. And the danger. It’s bad enough that I’m having to go ‘into the forest’ to get trees, which requires cutting a path through to get at the trees and get them out. Then clearing the path again as each and every log (section of tree) decides to hang up on something, despite the last length having been dragged through. I’m struggling more with getting the bits out than with the actual slicing and loading.

His hand, ‘relaxed’.

And I have plenty of other problems as it is.

The truck is performing the same as before. The engine works well, the seats are nice, I can haul more wood per trip – and it’s a right pain otherwise. The trailer is holding up too. I’ve got about two more loads to go. I hope. I’m rushing back out Thursday to try and get one more (I’ve got some logs on the ground there already) before the holiday Monday, when it’s supposed to rain. Or snow. Yes, snow. We have been threatened with the first fall of flakes. It won’t amount to anything or stay, but … signs of things to come.

Foggy every morning. At the start of the day you can’t even see the lake from the shore.

Soon it will be time to shut down the whole place. I haven’t done much photography of late because there’s not much to take pictures of. The wildlife has wandered away save a few birds and squirrels and three (now dead) packrats. This is the last interesting animal I’ve seen:

Young mule deer buck.

This may change, but until then here’s another picture of the moon:

I like the moon. (Nikon P610 @ 1440mm handheld.)

And as the sun sets rapidly in the West …

Another day, and another post, ends.

Killing frost

Okay, it’s Winter here now: -4C this morning and hasn’t warmed up more than 1 degree in the past two hours. I’m not even going out in it to take a picture of it, whatever it looks like. Instead, here’s a turkey:

Okay, it’s a ruffed grouse.

Otherwise …

Wood hauling is going well, except for being a lot of work. Bigger load capacity = takes more time and effort to load and unload. Truck is managing it, except for not being as fast as the Nissan even when empty because it can’t take the turns. Also the “check engine” light came on after less than five hours driving. It has since gone off again, but not before I’d made an appointment to have it checked. Ford has a service bulletin on it in fact. Anyway, the thing is still horrible to maneuver: at home I take the trailer off and turn it around separately, then reconnect it; that’s easier than trying to do the whole thing together, even with the ‘rear marker sticks’ added to the trailer. Oh I have to fix the suspension again; that road is a terror.

Anyway, three loads has got me three rows full and start of a fourth. So far, so good.

Unfortunately the cold is going against me, and it’s supposed to start raining next week. Cold + wet = slippery. Slippery woods, slippery roads. Right now I’m in town with too many little chores to do up – and a wife making more all the time – some of which really needed warmer weather for. Funny, but for all the cool temperatures I can still sweat through my clothes in short order when working with the wood. Possibly because some of the rounds are 50 lbs. each and … well pretty much a ton of weight per load.

Rocky shore.

It won’t be long before there’s ice showing up. Of course the water line will freeze first. Pretty early in the year to be losing so much heat, and somewhat surprising after the Summer’s roasting. On the plus side I’ve only one more electrical outlet to install. Whether I get that done this year remains to be seen. No big deal if not. I did not get the stain put on outside, so that’s not happening until next season.

Nor have I got results back from the biopsy. Can’t say “no news is good news” because it’s just no news. Had another pain attack in the middle of the night. The inconsistency of the circumstances surrounding these attacks discounts the cause/effect scenario of most possible diagnosis. Oh well …

Fishes.

What next? We wait and see.

One final note: Dave McKeegan’s Facebook fiasco. I don’t really use that abomination of a social media platform anymore, and his experience is similar to mine with Ego-bay.

It’s that time of year again

We are sucking down smoke here, due to fires all over the Northwest. Particularly one at Gustafsen Lake – which is where the infamous fire of 2017 started and turned us out of our home and nearly burned it to the ground. A little PTSD anyone? BC is full of people with nervous tics right now.

Ironically I’ve started harvesting firewood for the Winter heating season:

First logs on the ground.

The air is still fairly clear out at the lake, but the sky looks like permanent cloud. Once you get near town you can smell smoke, and nothing but. This places extra physical demand on the body doing the unloading, which is me. Never mind the extra physical demand on the body doing the cutting, hauling, slicing, and loading – which is also me. I did that whole load in one day, plus splitting up some for the cabin in case I need heat there. Why would I need heat there? Because we’ve already had a couple of frosty mornings:

That ain’t sugar coating.

The forecast says some showers, with rain amounts not enough to do any good against fires but enough to mess up the dirt roads and plans for travelling down them. Fortunately I have a new tool to help me in this job:

2015 F-150 4×4 extended cab.

Yes it cost a lot of money. More than I’ve ever spent on a vehicle before. No it probably wasn’t a good idea, unless you consider that the Xterra was having trouble hauling an empty trailer and ‘throwing codes’ while trying to overheat. The ol’ Nissan was just right for ‘only me’ trips, but didn’t have much cargo capacity beyond a couple of boxes of stuff. It also was 10 years older than this with 100,000+ more kilometres on it. At least this truck is red. Beyond that there isn’t much I like about it.

At the cabin. Probably the last time it will ever be clean.

Good things: the bed allows me to haul more wood per trip. Not a 100% increase as it’s only a 6′ bed, but about 80%. The first load filled one row of the shed whereas the trailer required about 1.5 loads, so fewer trips (albeit more work to get a load ready). It has a 2.7L V6 (smallest 6 cylinder I’ve ever encountered) with twin turbos which should provide a balance of power and economy. So far it’s doing no better than my ’69 Chevy C10 did with its 250 CID inline 6, and it doesn’t have the full size bed of the latter. It is 4×4 and has a differential lock which hopefully I’ll never have to use. Also, it’s red. Did I mention it’s red? Oh and the seats are comfortable.

Bad things: Just about everything else. Topping the list is the excessive amount of technoglitz ‘features’ meant to sell vehicles to the gullible. There are four switches for the dome light. All you need is ‘ON-DOOR-OFF’ on one switch. The dashboard is a nightmare of displays and buttons … you know, kind of like a modern camera that’s loaded with ‘features’ which impress gullible buyers who then set it on ‘PROGRAM’ and never touch the controls again. In fact the 6 speed automatic has a ‘manual’ setting which allows you to pick the gear. Uh, whatever happened to D-2-1? Is this an admission that the transmission isn’t good at its mission and won’t pick the right gear? I haven’t noticed that so far, and it’s been driven at highway speed, plus down the gravel road empty, and back again fully loaded. Seems fine and has plenty of power. But it took me 15 minutes to find the headlight switch. (The owners’ manual, by the way, is a Tolstoy novel mainly about safety warnings with side plots regarding things this vehicle isn’t actually equipped with.) The door locks and key are a nightmare all unto themselves, never mind the remote start – which doesn’t.

All-in-all it’s a case of “let’s see if we can make this marketing joke of a pick-up truck do some real work”. It does not ride or handle well either; you feel every bump, the steering is too heavy, and the tires do not grip the gravel like the KO’s on the Nissan did. The body is massive, which makes it difficult to maneuver either in town or in the woods or even around the yard (turning the whole rig around was extremely difficult). I mean it’s worse than my E250, and that’s actually bigger. Visibility is terrible with this thing (I may add some flags to the trailer as I can not see it at all behind the truck).

But if it can get the job done faster without using a significant amount more fuel (36 gallon tank that will be painful to fill in one go) then … probably still not worth it.

So far it hasn’t displayed enough ‘personality’ to garner a name. We shall see how it works out.

First load home. There was room for a little bit more, but that would require cutting another tree. Next time it will be full.

Things going on around here

How about this weather, eh? 32C (90F) on Friday, frosted lawn this morning. Summer left us like a thief in the night. (Lytton, the town that isn’t there anymore, set a new record September high for all of BC of 39.6C/103F.)

A small amount of rain Sunday helped damp the smoke out of the air. There are no serious fires burning near us, but enough small ones (including one 1 km behind our house) that the weather forecast one day said “smoke in the morning …” and we’re all having PTSD from the memories of past wildfires. The nightmares are real, and I think we need financial compensation from the government.

Speaking of which, certain provincial ones have decided to hand out cheques to their citizenry to help with the rampant price-gouging because nothing eases inflation like pumping more money into the economy, right? (You can just see their report cards: “Economics 101 [F]”). But don’t worry because after reporting record quarterly profits the grocery chains have assured us the increases they make are just covering their costs. Also, pigs fly.

I have not finished my pre-winter preparations around here and may not get to because suddenly it’s time to start harvesting wood. As in the overnight temperatures have dropped to where lighting the stove may be necessary at both locations while I get wood in for the season. The trick is to cut and stack it faster than you burn it.

Will we be going out to the cabin this week? Good question. I haven’t finished up even what I can do out there yet, and I just got back from WL hospital with five new holes in my arm.

Are things going well around here? No, not really. There’s huge room for improvement, and we all know it won’t happen.

Sneak preview.

This week in pictures

It’s been a strange week, and really a bit more than a week since my last post. So here’s what’s been going on.

First up, I had an expedited doctor visit owing to the last pain episode. He wasn’t happy with the symptoms or his exam results, so this was followed by some expedited testing and expedited scheduling of more testing. None of it has found anything yet, but the procedures are wreaking havoc with scheduling any other activities. But I have got  few things done during a couple brief cabin stays.

The second kitchen lamp. It’s a wonder it worked at all. It’s a wonder it didn’t go up in flames.

Yeah I feel like that socket looks. Those little grey-green strands are supposed to be shiny copper, and inside some insulation.

The bathroom is finished! (Probably)

I got the sink installed and working, and refinished the door. The bathroom is now done (as far as I’m concerned; I’ll probably hear otherwise). In fact, there are exactly three more “mechanical” things to do on the whole cabin. Three! After that everything is cosmetic. Of course there’s a lot of that cosmetic stuff.

Lonely kayak.

Our Jane came up with her crew. In a fine case of “hello and goodbye” they arrived the day I had to go back to town to deal with two days of medical stuff and they go home a day before I can return with grandma. Not exactly how we’d like to do it. Of course currently the main highway back to the south is closed because of a landslide so … there may be some delay.

Alongside the long road.

Spotted this on the route to Williams Lake when I went for the first testing. Picture taken with the Canon G11, which is a nice take-along camera. It’s not as small as my little Fuji, but the optical finder gives it an edge for practicality.

The air conditioner quit working in this heat we’ve been having. Buy a new one? Ah ha ha ha! Maybe by November. Despite knowing how they work, I can’t fix it even if parts were available because I lack the specialized tools for refrigeration servicing. Anyway it’s only about 20 years old. Want to bet how long a new one would last? Right.

With no definite schedule for the next test (one which requires a trip to the big city, overnight stay, and leaving the animals in someone’s care) we ponder whether to haul everyone out to the cabin or not. It’d be just my luck that we’d get out there and have to turn around and come back. On the other hand if we hang about here the test won’t be scheduled until December. You can bet on that.

I will make preparations anyway.

Taken with the Canon 1Ds.

The computer at least is working well, although I’m not happy with the changes that have been made to GIMP: the new “features” don’t add any functionality and the interface change is unwelcome as it is more difficult to see and to use. I also admit to being leery of updates as it seems they tend to bring change but not necessarily improvement.

Many things change. As Jean-Baptiste Karr said: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. We just don’t know what the actual results will be. C’est la vie.

Misc. update

We’ve been having seriously hot weather of late. We’re talking A/C on and not being able to do anything. Inside temp with A/C reaches 28C (83F). Outside in the sun … Well Lytton hit 40C easy. Or should I say where Lytton used to be because it burned to the ground last year, and nearby is on fire there this year.

It’s a long weekend, but so far not a lot of fires have lit up. No doubt that will change.

I’m going back out to the cabin today. Partly because I have a box full of pieces for projects, and mainly because Lorne is coming up today and needs my help to get his boat in the water. That’s the one I just repaired the roof on:

The design is stupid and not meant to hold up against snowfall anyway.

One reason he and his wife are coming up is to get away from the other major fire in BC right now, which is visible from their home. Nothing like wondering whether or not you’ll have a home to come back to. Been there, done that. One year X3.

Fancy shelf.

Lorne made me that shelf a couple of years ago and I finally got it installed (with a little adapting of the log wall). I like the hummingbird and bear paw cut-outs. No shortage of stuff to go on shelves!

Propane shelf.

I built this shelf for the propane tanks. Finally. We’d been running off one tank balanced on an old chair on the porch since 2018. It’s about time I got some of these fiddly bits sorted out.

Almost a vanity.

That’s nearly done too. Hopefully I’ve got enough pieces to finish plumbing it in. I sort of made that cabinet out of an old one that was falling apart and badly designed. The top is a refinished section I’d saved from the kitchen of the old house. It’s starting to look good out there. New ceiling too. New tub surround, rebuilt walls, finally lined the closet, painted the trim … just have to rebuild the door now.

Cedar-lined closet.

Anyway I had some kind of pain attack Friday night and the pain hasn’t exactly left, so this probably isn’t a good idea. But when has that ever stopped me? Right.

Weather is supposed to cool down this week, but today isn’t going to be much of an improvement over the 30+ temperatures we’ve been having. I’ll try to get out there before it gets too hot – and the thunderstorms start.

And more.

The work continues here. Sometimes it even yields results:

Much neater than everything crammed in any which way with stuff left outside.

Of course despite the re-purposed cabinetry and improvised shelving there’s still more stuff than space. More things need to be tossed, and since it’s all been badly stored it’s not heart-breaking to do so. No want wants to keep mouldy, rotting, and broken items. Consider also that it was used before it came here to be used again.

All has not been good, of course, as yesterday Connor had a Close Encounter of the Bear Kind while trail riding. For some reason the beast ignored Jesse who had just gone past and chose to make enquiries of his cousin instead. Probably because Maverick the dog was with the latter. It was the big bear that wouldn’t back down from the neighbour and seems to think he owns the place. Oh yeah, bear? You can pay the damn property taxes then! See how you like that. Actually sending him in to the CRD office you hand over some nuts and berries for fair change might be interesting. I know I would be amused.

I was not amused by how ill I felt after doing just a little work in yesterday’s heat. It would be nice if there was some sort of obvious cause and effect relationship that would lead to a definitive diagnosis of the underlying source of trouble, but no. I just find myself feeling really unwell at times. Not quite go-to-the-ER this time, but close. Happened on a Monday too, same as last time. Hmm. Maybe I’m allergic to Mondays. I bet that’s it. A pretty common ailment.

This morning we had some visitors early on:

Mama and her kids.

Better than bears! The fawns played around the yard for a while, investigating things with cat-like curiosity while Mama kept a watchful eye on them – and me:

Wary watcher.

I’d like to say there’s not much left to do here, but that would be a lie. Oh right; this is the Internet so … there’s not much left to do here. Actually not much left for the lads to do so they’ll probably head back to the land of air conditioning just as the temperatures here are going to get interesting. (There is currently a significant fire burning near Lytton, the town that was wiped out by fire last year. If you think you’ve got problems …)

Not sure what, if anything, we’ll tackle today. Not good to work hard every day. Not for me anyway.

Do you canoe?

Chaos? Yeah, we got that.

Work in progress.

Well my work crew showed up Thursday night and Friday we got right into it. This mostly involves moving messes from one place to another in hopes they will somehow magically become smaller messes. So far, no.

The good thing about having young and strong people to help is that they can do in two hours what it would take me two weeks to do. The bad thing about having young and strong people to help is that they can do in two hours what it would take me two weeks to do. In other words staying ahead of them is difficult. I’m about 3X the age of one of them and 4X the other, and it shows.

So while they wait for grandpa to shift things into slots they get to go trail riding and fishing and cutting up trees and getting a truck wedged in the woods … That last part was wrong, wasn’t it? If someone had asked I could have told him it wouldn’t fit; that trail wasn’t made wide enough for full-size vehicles, just ATVs.

Anyway, over-all the plan is working.

Extent of the damage, so far.

As you can see from that photo the road out here is still rough. But only one reinforcing plate broke off, and I should be able to grind & weld it back in place. Trailer certainly tows better now. Although my visitors report that the road is getting worse because yes indeed it looks like logging is starting on the hill up behind here, and that means heavy trucks pounding the gravel into potholes.

After getting this batch sorted there’s a couple of piles of debris from the reno waiting to be shifted into different piles in another location. It sounds ridiculous but it’s how it has to be done: pile up, sort through, shift to different places, and slowly whittle down the heaps into useful material and trash for the dump.

We’ll get there. Eventually.

Bucky says: “Oh my goodness! What next?”