Sunday, June 29, 2008

great excitement in Airdrie

We arrived here at about 11:30 Friday night. The ceremonies Thursday night went as long and were as boring as we feared. There was something like 300+ kids to process so it went on FOREVER. By the end of the evening we were beginning to really appreciate the stupid kids. For the smart kids the introduction went something like: "This is Johnny Smartkid who is graduating with honours. Johnny is receiving a scholarship from Boring Woman Teacher's society for excellence in 300 level German studies by maintaining an average over 90%. The bursary is for $250 based on academic achievement and student need. Johnny is also receiving ......." and on and on and on.

On the other hand, when a stupid kid got to the head of the line the introduction went like this: "This is Suzy Stupid". Next kid. So, by the end of the evening we were looking for the stupid ones and dreading the smart ones. Of course they went alphabetically so about 1/4 of the way into the evening we had really no further interest in any of the kids at all.

On Friday night we went to the banquet and sat at the family table which posed a whole new set of challenges but everybody was on their best behaviour and all went well. We had warned Marlan that if he noticed that we were missing not to come looking for us because we would be on our way to Calgary. At around 8:00 I all of a sudden realized how late it was getting and we left at about 8:15. They were still midway through an extended video of the kids' progress from baby pictures through to high school. It was really well done. I couldn't help thinking what a change in technology has happened in one generation. The visual effects and techniques that they were playing with and taking for granted didn't even exist when I graduated.

The Sunstrum/Huisma household is fully engaged in getting ready for the big party tomorrow night. I cleaned my fork this morning, discovered that I have lost the o-ring that I need for the tiger torch this afternoon and have otherwise tried to stay out of the way for fear Allison will find me a job. Tomorrow I have to go into Airdrie to mail some stuff so I will track down another o-ring at that time. I'd like to test fire the torch before things get critical but I guess it will likely work. How much can go wrong with a tiger torch anyway?

Jorgito did NOT like our room in Medicine Hat. That was the main reason that we only stayed one night. It would have been a lot easier to stay a 2nd night but we were in a pet room and there were just too many strange smells there for his liking. He really likes being here. I'm not sure he actually remembered the place but he has settled in nicely. Kiwi thinks he is pretty neat and follows him everywhere when we take him out for a walk. Most of the time he sleeps on the bed in our room. On the few occasions when he and Miss Kitty have come face to face it has not gone well so we try to avoid those situations.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Going for a walk

George is going to miss our walks for the next few days while we are in Alberta. I think he actually enjoys them. He lies down a lot along the way but tonight we went more or less around the whole park. Once we get to the far side of the park and he thinks we are heading home then he is moving. His little tail goes up over his back on lock and he almost drags me along.

Tomorrow we are headed for Kelowna to get a bit of work done on the boat and to visit with Dan & Marilyn and Bryan & Dean. Then early Thursday morning we have to leave for Medicine Hat for Marlan's grad. The ceremonies are Thursday evening and then we're going to hang around for the banquet Friday night. That should be entertaining but we're not going to stick around too long because we want to get back up to Al & Camiel's that night. Monday is the famous pitchfork fondue so we'll have the weekend to get ready for that. I'd like to be back out here for the fireworks on July 1 but we will see how that goes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goin' for a walk

Georgie and I just got back from our morning walk. Its very difficult to walk a cat. I started out with a fresh cup of tea but that was gone before we got done with the squirrel in the tree. We went for a long walk around about 1/2 of the campground. For a wonder, micro-brain even recognized the way home despite it not involving retracing our steps. He got to that stage at Noble's Point (Candle Lake) so perhaps there is hope that he will get to know how to go for walks here as well. You have to be REALLY patient to walk a cat. He had to chew grass, chase the squirrel, watch several dogs, roll in the road, smell the garbage cans, rub the doors to Bernie's shop, among other important activities.

The sun has finally come out here. I stopped looking at Environment Canada and started looking at the Farmzone forecast and it appears to have resulted in better weather. Environment Canada still has rain on for today but Farmzone said it would be sunny and sure enough, there's the sun. Its kind of an agricultural area here so that likely explains why Farmzone works better than Environment Canada.

There's a mid-sized family reunion happening up the hill from where we are parked. Lots of tents and a few trailers, a bunch of really fat women and many kids. I felt sorry for them last night in the rain but today they are having a grand day.

Andrea and Mike are supposed to be arriving here for dinner and then we will take them out on the water. Andrea is Dan's daughter; Marilyn's niece in other words. She and Mike are vacationing at Sorrento which is about an hour northeast of here, on one of the arms of the Shuswap Lakes.

The boss says it is time I started making dinner.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Settled in for the summer

We spent last night in Banff with Alison & Camiel. They took us out for supper last night & I made them breakfast this morning. Then we headed west arriving in Sicamous around 3:30. We went straight to Moose Mulligan's for fish and chips - that's our ritual as soon as we arrive in Sicamous. Then we followed the lake south to Whispering Pines.

There's hardly anybody here despite the highway being relatively busy today. There seemed to be a lot of rental RVs on the road today. It seemed like there were an inordinate number of rental RVs in Tunnel Mountain last night - most of them driven by Europeans. Maybe they are taking advantage of low season for rentals. There's probably 8 occupied RVs here tonight - maybe another 6 seasonal ones with nobody in them.

We moved into the site that Sharon thinks is our favorite and we think is the one that we usually end up in. I had been worried about whether we would be able to get an internet signal from it and sure enough, we could not. The trees here are so high and the foliage so dense there was just no way. We wandered around the campground scouting out some possible sites and then tried to phone Sharon. We had to leave a message the first time but Marilyn caught up with her around 8:00 and arranged a switch. Now we are way in the back of the campground, along the creek so we can fall asleep listening to the sounds of the creek. We're also very well shaded which will come in handy when Bernie's marginal power isn't adequate to run the air conditioner although I discovered tonight that we are right next to the power panel so I think I will spring for a new breaker for Bernie. The one we are on feels pretty weak so I'm thinking a new one might be in order.

We got both dishes set up so Marilyn has her TV and we have the internet. George likes it here too. He was outside on his leash for a while during which time he met a Lassie dog and his mom. I think he will be pretty happy because we are buried in the trees so there will be lots of birds for him to look at and chase.

The night before last George was making a big commotion outside the bedroom door. That's not unusual for him in the early morning. I finally got fed up and closed the bedroom door. A while later I got up and went up to the front to drink my morning tea. He seemed unusually obsessed with one of my feet and started pawing at the bottom of my slipper so I lifted my foot and realized that I had absent mindedly plopped my foot down on his mouse. His formerly alive mouse. The commotion he was making turned out to have been him catching his first mouse. We're not wild about the fact that we had a mouse in the bus but on the other hand he now knows what they smell like and how to catch them so that has to be good.

Time to go to bed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm getting sick and tired of rain

We left Candle Lake because mainly because we didn't like the lake but partly because it seemed like it rained constantly from the time we set up there. This summer is starting out the same way. They still aren't getting any rain in the northeast - which I guess is a good thing because it means our lawn won't be growing out of control - but it sure has been raining wherever we are. Maybe we are rain gods??

We got to Medicine Hat late in the afternoon yesterday and set up at Ross Creek on the east side of town. I ran around town looking for a 50 amp shore cord. After our incident at Prince Albert (where I let the smoke out of the junction box) I decided that I was going to fix the power the right way. We've had half of a 50 amp service for the 4 years we have owned the bus and it has absolutely never been a problem but it might as well be done right if I am going to fix it. Or so I thought. I had no idea it would turn into the ordeal that it did. I went into no less than three major RV dealers with huge parts showrooms who tried to tell me that:
a) I didn't need a 50 amp service
b) their 30 amp cord was a 50 amp cord
c) 50 amp 250 volt service was really 110 volt
d) 50 amp cords were too expensive (that part was certainly true but I'm not sure what solution they proposed)

Finally yesterday I walked into an RV parts room in Redcliffe (west of Medicine Hat). There lying on the floor was the cord I needed so I picked it up. At about the same time the partsman showed up and asked if he could help. I told him "no, I've found what I need". Then I said "you aren't going to try to tell me that I don't really need this, or that it won't work or that it's too expensive, or something else are you?" He looked puzzled so I explained. Of course it has been raining steadily since we got here so I haven't tried to hook it up. We've got lots of power without it but it just isn't the same when you know it isn't done right. He wanted $385 for his cord compared with $495 for the same cord that another dealership in town was prepared to order for me except that they wanted to argue about whether it was a 250 or 110 volt cord & that left me wondering if they were actually ordering the right one. I hate stupidity but you sure run into it a lot.

Speaking of stupidity, the apology that Stephen Harper is making in the House today is the stupidest thing that his government has done. I understand why he is doing it but it is a HUGE mistake. He's doing it because the Indian lobby is too strong to ignore anywhere in North America. While we're at it why don't we apologise for our Prussian and Roman ancestors' mistakes as well. The big mistake regarding the residential schools was that the Canadian government of the day didn't completely subjugate the Indians. We allowed them to maintain the illusion that the treaties were between equals when we should have forced them to face the fact that the Indian signatories to the treaties clearly understood - they were defeated. Why else would they have agreed to give up all this land that they now claim they once had dominion over? They were a defeated people and their ancestors clearly understood that they were defeated - they were defeated socially, economically and militarily. The current generation of Indian leadership maintains the fiction that they were never defeated and uses that to justify any number of extortions from Whitey but the fact is we won and they lost. The sooner we all get accustomed to that reality the better off we will all be. Harper standing on his hind legs and grovelling isn't going to help that process one iota.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

It yained and yained and yained

Back when Michael used to be brought to us by the letter "Y" he used to say that it yained a lot. Well it is yaining right now and they need it here. We're parked in Fred & Norma's yard for a few days after arriving here on Thursday. Maybe the rain will drown the gophers too. I've never seen so many gophers. Big ones and little ones in every direction. They're putting out bait and shooting them but I think its hopeless. When we arrived there was a 1/2 ton about half a mile ahead of me driving slowly down the road. Pretty soon he stopped and a rifle came out the window. So I slowed down and eventually I stopped behind him and waited. And waited. I didn't want to be a jerk and blow the horn but finally I did - if I hadn't we'd probably still be sitting there because that guy's mirrors were clearly decorative. Apparently he is retired and he spends his days driving slowly down the middle of the road, periodically stopping and shooting gophers. Seems like a pretty good lifestyle for a retired guy although he's likely building up some seriously bad karma.

We had a minor adventure in P.A. on the way down. When I went to hook up to the electrical I let some smoke out of the connection to the bus. Many people who have a limited understanding of electricity don't realize that all electrical devices from computers to electric drills to televisions run on smoke. As long as the smoke is contained inside the device it will function normally - I suspect its sort of like blood in a human being. And in the same fashion as when a human loses its blood, if an electrical thing loses its smoke, it ceases to function normally. In our case it was only a minor loss of smoke so there wasn't serious long term effects but I'm still looking for a replacement end for the shore power cord. I stopped at Happy Camper in P.A. but I might as well have been at Toys R Us for all he knew about 50 amp cords. The guy at Frank Dunn's at least knew what I was holding in my hand but he didn't have one. I bought the bus connector at Mr. RV in Saskatoon - Pat Kehoe may be 100 years old but he definitely hasn't forgotten how to run an RV store. When I was buying the bus connector I looked at the cable ends & knew I should be buying one of them too but I cheaped out and didn't - MISTAKE. I'll probably find one in Swift Current or, if not, in Calgary. It really doesn't matter here because we're plugged into a 15 amp plug on Fred's shop so we could run that through one of those little white cords that you plug the Christmas tree in with if we had to.

I had a big day yesterday - drove all the way down to Val Marie for a 9:00 AM meeting which the sleazy little pup backed out of once I finally got him sitting down. I should have known that ahead of time because he was lying and making excuses from January on. But I had 3 more good meetings during the day plus another one really early this morning in Lafleche so I'm about 1/2 done the meetings in this area. Tomorrow we're going to move up to Swift Current and I've got a meeting west of Shaunavon Monday morning. I've got 3 more meetings around Swift Current and then we can head west. We'll stop in Airdrie for a few days and be in Mara by a week from tomorrow. I talked to Sharon (campground owner) last week and our site is waiting for us but I'm having difficulty finding a place to tie the boat up. The guy that used to run the marina at Club Mara sold it and the new owners are the resort owners. They don't sound like they know exactly what they are doing and the resort has always been a little difficult to deal with so we'll see how that works out once we get there. If we have to we can trailer the boat all the time and that would likely be cheaper than using the marina but not as convenient. There's several farms along the river with docks so we'll stop in at some of them and see if we can find one that is interested in renting a moorage for the summer.

Not much else happening here - Fred and Norma are taking us out for supper so I better go get ready for that adventure.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

the day after

The garage sale is over. We had variously advertised it for 9:00 or 10:00 to 1:00 or 4:00 but one old girl still arrived at about 7:20. I was walking to the house to get the coffee pot so I just ignored her. She turned around and left. Then about 10:30 she arrived back and I saw her talking to Marilyn. She was madder than a wet hen at that point. Apparently she wanted to buy that stupid patio swing set that we used to have on the deck in town. The cushions on it were completely shot and the top for it blew off several years ago in a wind storm. We put a $10 price on it thinking that maybe somebody would be stupid enough to save us the bother of hauling it to the dump and sure enough, somebody was. But the old girl was convinced that she had missed the bargain of the day. How she thought she was going to transport it in her Taurus is another question.

Our customers covered a wide spectrum of humanity. Later in the day we had more residents of the reservation but we had everything from hardcore garage salers who arrived before 8:00 to the likes of Ferd who just came for a visit. We didn't make a fortune but we sure got rid of a lot of stuff. Although you would never know how much we got rid of if you were to look in the house.

Late in the afternoon we had a rookie cop show up to see about renting the house. I don't know whether they would have been serious about renting it because we ended up phoning them later in the evening and telling them that there is no way we could have it ready on their schedule. She gets posted to Nipawin starting on July 17 at which time we intend to be in the middle of our summer in Mara. If we were going to rent the house we would have to at a minimum hang drywall in the master bedroom and redo the floor covering in that whole end of the house. That simply isn't going to happen before we leave for Mara and we don't want to rent it badly enough to put off our trip to BC. We told her that if they are still interested in renting in September then they should give us a call.

Sometime this week we will start heading west. I've got some calls to make in SW Sask and Marilyn is going to spend a week writing for Alison. We will head out sometime toward the end of the week and camp at Kincaid for a few days and then move to Airdrie for a few days before heading for Mara. Alison and Camiel want us to cater a pitchfork fondue at the end of June which will dovetail nicely with Marlan's graduation. We'll get settled in at Mara and then come back for the fondue and graduation. Then we'll spend all of July at Mara and maybe part of August.

The only downside to this plan is that we will likely miss the raspberries. They are shaping up to actually have a small crop this year. I don't think we'll be missing a lot but they look a lot better than they did this time last year. Of course last year they got frozen off on Victoria Day weekend and never really recovered.

We hired Fred to mow grass and he was here all Saturday morning. He seems to enjoy the mower - it's like a real tractor and I'm sure he's never driven a real tractor before. He's not as fast as he could be but he seems to be careful. I ended up finishing the mowing in the afternoon. I'm well pleased with the new tractor and particularly with the mower. I had one of those Land Pride mowers when we were on the acreage west of the river. They build really good stuff. I can do a good job of mowing with the tractor travelling at a faster speed than I am comfortable sitting on it at so that is about as good as it gets. I think I could mow the whole yard starting at 8:00 and be done well before noon which is a huge change from the way we used to do it. I like having the yard looking nice but I resent yardwork when it gets in the way of lake time.