Where am I?

One view

Friday I needed to go in to town. By the time I got to the main road I was feeling like a cured ham due to all the smoke. In fact BC managed to grab the honours for “worst air on Earth”, with the Okanagon area coming in with an Air Quality Index of 415. That’s “extremely dangerous”; roughly the equivalent of sucking the exhaust out of a semi’s stack under full load. We’re doing much better here with about 100 points less than that which puts us in the “very unhealthy” category.

I started out with fairly clear air when I left. Sucked down fumes through my whole trip. Then came back to a lake full of precipitated particles – which have yet to go away. There’s no promise of rain in the forecast, but possibly more lightning which could start more fires. Of course it’s a holiday weekend here, and lots of morons are heading out for some fun in the sun. Despite roads being closed, trails being closed, campsites being closed, evacuation zones being closed, and of course the whole bloody area being full of damn thick smoke. They’ll go anyway and think it no end of fun as they light their illegal campfires and send more of our province up in flames.

Halfway through “fire season” and we’ve had more fires than the average for a whole one. Also set a record for “wildfires of note” (the ones that endanger people directly). I wouldn’t be surprised if this year surpasses the nightmare of 2017 in terms of total area burned and/or damage done.

What does it really look like? I set the Nikon on “daylight” and snapped a shot (no alterations, colour correct, resulting image pretty much what you’d see in person):

This isn’t the worst-afflicted area either.

I’m doing nothing. The air isn’t fit to breath. I’m too old and too broken-down to deal with this stuff. A HEPA filter and N95 masks are no match for it.

Is my sight getting any better? I can’t tell because the world around me has gone into “soft focus” with lots of real “floaters” obstructing the view.

Side note: for some reason I grabbed the Olympus E-410 when I was home. The first picture is taken with that. I don’t think I’ll be doing any photography any time soon, but I have some prepared from this past week before things really went wahoonie-shaped. I’ve been thinking a lot about what equipment I have (four DSLRs with five different lens systems between them?) and will remark on that at a later date.

Of late

We are finally at the cabin together. It wasn’t easy. Along the way the road bumps took a few casualties among the packed goods, such as reducing a dozen eggs to half a dozen. The jostling alone did the damage, and it took me a couple of hours to clean up the mess once we got here.

First of the flooring upstairs.

The place is far from done. It’s just usable. But my poor wife hasn’t been able to stay out here since 2018 due to one thing or another or even more. The cats are very unhappy about being here, growling and hissing at each other and the world in general. Two of them have “left home”. They should return once they’re hungry. The dogs are fine. They love adventure. I’m not so keen on it myself.

The new china cabinet.

This was the big ‘sticking point’ for being able to fully occupy the place. Fortunately a couple of friends dropped by and help me lift the top piece on to the base. Three old guys that took. Many thanks to Wally and Danny ’cause otherwise I’d have had to build a crane or something. I swear the top alone is 200 lbs.

Of course with the dogs around the wildlife has taken off so no more deer. Probably no more bear or woodchuck or other sizable beasts. Fortunately they are smarter than the dogs, who’d try to play with a wolverine if they found one.

Timmy the Idiot; a yearling buck who kept coming ’round and poking in the ash pit.

The mosquitoes are still here. They seemed to disappear Saturday when the temperature got up to 97 (sorry Celisus; you’re no good for daily living). It’s expected to be 108 tomorrow and Tuesday. This is highly unusual for the area. Inside the cabin it was only 75. Now this morning it’s 60 outside so the windows are open to let the temperature drop. Once it starts climbing again I’ll close up and keep the heat out. It works and it’s cheaper than air conditioning.

Mosquito Patrol.

We’ll be out here now while I continue working. Not sure what I’ll get done, but there sure is a lot left to do. Going to go slow during this heat wave of course, and not planning on going back to town for anything until next Friday.

 

Laking

Oh boy am I not having fun here at the lake. The temperature keeps dropping to freezing and sometimes it snows. This is making work difficult and unpredictable, even when the water system doesn’t break down unexpectedly.

Winter hangs on.

The logs there I dragged in from the road. There’s more of that to do, but …

Sometimes the logs float down the lake.

The weather (and work) is interfering with photography too. It usually isn’t sunny enough to take a good picture, and if it is I have to take advantage of it and do work.

A bird takes the easy route.

That bit the bird is floating on is from the dock, which has been destroyed.

Spider of the sun.

So here I am trying to get things done with no time to enjoy the environment I’m in.

The cabin I can’t enjoy.

So much work to do and no sign of improvement in the weather.

C’est la vie.

What lies ahead?

No, this is not going to be a political post.

It’s Friday afternoon as I write this, and there’s been more weather than I like to see. All sorts of precipitation and temperatures dropping below then rising above freezing. Lather, rinse, repeat. Which leads to the forecast (guess) of tomorrow being sunny and clear and thus another potential day to get another load of firewood in. If it actually happens. The forecasts (guesses) are notoriously inaccurate of late.

When I drove out Monday the road was so bad I thought everything was going to come apart at the molecular level. The trailer has suffered some damage, in fact. So has my body. The drive is rougher than the work. Since then it has rained and frozen and thawed more, meaning the road has likely been demolished more. I only need five more loads to fill the woodshed. The future forecast has once again gone from “sunny all week” to “nothin’ but snowfall”. November will be here soon, and the weather doesn’t get any better when it arrives. Furthermore the Xterra’s licensing expires then and I am loathe to pay for additional time when I won’t be using the rest of the Winter. It just doesn’t make sense.

As far as photography goes, the conditions of late are pretty far from ideal or even acceptable for taking pictures. I have a few “stored up” and the odd shot around the yard, but no real effort is forthcoming any time soon. I have concocted an “Equipment Advancement Plan” which may or may not be possible to implement. We’ll have to wait and see.

Things would be much easier if we could predict the future. Even if only the weather for the next day.

What lies ahead? (Lumix ZS60)

Whose stupid idea was this?

On my way in to the cabin Monday I got to take a couple of pictures of the mountains – with snow on them. Yesterday was miserably rainy, and this morning it was snowing. It will melt off, but it did stick. What is worse is that the forecast for the next two weeks is more of the same unpredictable rain/snow showers. The only thing that can be counted on is that it will be cold. I need to get six more loads of wood out of the woods and it looks very iffy for doing that. If I do manage it, the circumstances will be unpleasant.
I’m not happy right now.

Snow on the mountain. (Kodak P850)

Snow on the deck. (Fuji EXR)

Who’ll stop the rain?

It’s been damp. In fact the last day that didn’t rain was a week ago Monday. Even then it rained that night. One day this past week it hailed. This is causing some problems:

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The front lawn does not normally have a foot of water on it

The precipitation comes with cool temperatures too, so I’m going through propane for the furnace as well as gasoline for the generator due to the lack of sunshine for the solar panels. Less than ideal conditions you might say.

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The driveway: I may need an amphibious vehicle soon

Needless to say I haven’t had many picture-taking opportunities. I suppose that keeps me concentrated on work, but a break would be nice now and then.

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Batbird! A pine siskin perched on the batatorium

There’s a little too much pressure on to get this job done, and the weather hasn’t been helping at all. I get stiff and sore just from that, never mind the work. I keep hearing about hiring someone, but I have enough problems leftover from the last contractor who worked on this place. I don’t mean to be egotistical but frankly I’m better at this sort of thing than any contractor I’ve ever seen since I was 16. It probably makes a difference if it’s your place and you therefor have a vested interest in the place. Also you get to decide the fine details of what is acceptable quality and what is not.

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One of the contractor’s mistakes: there should not be a gap between the door and sill

That whole door installation is a mess: the door wood is split, they left screws out of the hinges, the ones they put in are crooked, the striker plates are set wrong, and the gap between the weatherstripping and sill is absurd. Yes I really could do better when I was 16.

One thing the rain hasn’t washed away is the mosquito population. They are swarming and that’s driving me crazy. Especially when they start buzzing me after I’ve gone to bed and turned the light out. They wait for it I’m sure, just to be extra annoying.

It’s a problem. I’m too old for this kind of work and my eyesight isn’t good enough anymore. Yet I still do a better job of it. That’s a sad commentary on contractors today. Just what have I been doing? This:

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Sink back in place with new feed and drain lines

The Nikon continues to get worse. It’s focusing about as well as my eyes do. Now it’s no longer just close-ups that fail, but random normal shots as well. It says there’s a focus lock, and then delivers a blurred picture. I sometimes have to take shots over (the one above for example), and that’s no good for wildlife and not acceptable for anything else. The Canon works of course, but it doesn’t have that fantastic zoom capacity.

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The loon is happy at least

I’m very tired as I write this, and fairly worn out as well. Technically this job is two years behind already because of all the unforeseen events that got in the way. All things considered it’s a wonder it’s getting done at all.

 

Logistics, planning, and living in a tin can

Today is the day I nip back home to pick up a few things. Only a couple of problems. It’s raining so hard that if I step outside I get soaked through in seconds. This makes all the necessary little preparations for the trip rather difficult. I can’t load up the trailer and take it with me, but it’s still attached and I’ll have to unhook it since there’s no point in dragging it along empty. This also limits the room I have for taking things in, such as the mower and the plastic containers of linen (that all need to be sorted and washed as they’ve just been sitting out here for years and are quite ‘stale’) and even the garbage.

So I have to rearrange the configuration of the Xterra and leave some things out and make space for other things. In the rain. It’s times like this that I miss my Suburban. Not when I pull up to the gas pump, however.

Okay, I just had to nip out and move the generator and hook it up and start it because the battery Voltage went too low to maintain the inverter. Something to do with the furnace coming on, my having left the satellite modem on all night, and my having used the saws in the gloom of yesterday afternoon without the generator. Understand This: solar panels produce nothing in the dark, and drop off drastically with even slight cloud cover. Don’t argue: I’ve designed and re-design more off-grid PV power systems than you can imagine. Mine here just happens to be in a state of transition and not everything has been connected. Even with the new panels installed they won’t produce in the rain. They just don’t, no matter what the ad copy says.

So tomorrow is supposed to be nice and sunny and warm. Looks like that’s the day I’ll be picking up supplies and driving back here. One good day wasted on errands. Following that it’s supposed to rain again. The forecasts are never accurate, but you can count on the weather to be contrary to whatever plans you make. For example as it is pouring here it is completely dry at home, about 40 miles away as the raven flies. Which is why my wife has to keep watering her tomato plants instead of mother nature doing it.

Needless to say there have been no new pictures taken. So here’s an old one.

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Chipmunk Acrobat

The Great Wiper Blade Debate

The weather here has turned worse. How much worse? This morning an RCMP patrol stopped outside our house and scanned the deep ditch on the other side for any sign of a vehicle having slid off into it. They’d had a report with a vague location and were having to check every gully for signs of victims.

When I went out in the crunchy snow to get some wood, it was raining. The dogs don’t even want to be out in it. And they say there’s more of the same to come.

Meanwhile we are treated to ‘news stories’ about whether your wiper arms should be left flat against the windshield or folded out – and what do the ‘experts’ say about it?

Well I don’t know what ‘experts’ they talked to, but this old engineer who’s had more vehicles than any sane person should and has lived the entirety of his getting-too-close-to-a-century-for-comfort lifetime in the frozen North has a few observations on the matter. Also on the news story. Let’s deal with that first, shall we?

What I noticed is that the reasons given for extending the wiper arms were not the right reasons for doing so. They talk about people thinking it will reducing the wear on the blades. Well, no not really. The ‘experts’ are correct on this one: most of the wear comes from running the wipers, not just leaving them pressed against the glass. The other complaint they had was that leaving them pointing out will strain the springs and eventually reduce the pressure exerted on the blades. Technically correct, but it’s doubtful you’ll own the car that long. Even if it happens, you replace the springs and the problem is solved. Then the warn about the sudden snap of the arms folding back down possibly breaking the windshield. I suppose there is a possibility of this, but then again you could also win the lottery. The fact is many times this has happened and because the pressure is spread over the blade the chances of the glass being damaged are near nil. I have seen a chip produced from an arm with no blade on it suddenly whacking down, but again there was nothing to spread the impact force out. It did not shatter the glass.

The thing is the article I read completely missed the real reason why people put the arms up: it makes it easier to clear away the snow and ice. Especially the ice. The biggest probability for any kind of damage in this area is getting iced-down wiper blades freed. And we know they make wonderful dams for blocking snow removal.

So what does this expert say? Leave ’em down unless you’re expecting freezing rain. Like we’re getting today. All three of our vehicles have their blades down, but the van isn’t licensed the Xterra isn’t going anywhere and Jojo is parked underneath. And I’m staying inside. The weather is too lousy to go out in.

Side note: Monday was going to be full moon and once again the sky was blocked with cloud. It was also going to be Mercury’s transit across the sun, but no chance of seeing that either. There will be another full moon next month, but the next Mercury transit isn’t for 30 years. I’m sure I’ll miss that one too, on account of being dead.