Sunday, May 31, 2015

Neighbours bearing pie

Shortly after we arrived in Buchanan and took up residence in the bus at 110, Emily arrived from across the street carrying a pie.  As I recall it was peach pie but I could be wrong.

Yesterday I was in the middle of greasing wheel bearings on the trailer.  I had a hub in my lap and I was sitting on the ground so I couldn’t actually turn around when Sharon from across the back alley asked me if Marilyn was home.  I said I thought she must be in the house and went back to greasing.  A while later Sharon came by again and we talked over my shoulder about where we were headed in the trailer and about how Irvin is coming along.  He’s got some serious health issues but it sounds like they have finally got the attention of the medical community. 

Shortly after Sharon left Marilyn came out to tell me that I needed to come in the house for tea and pie.  Sure enough, Sharon had arrived carrying a rhubarb and strawberry pie.  You just gotta love neighbours that arrive carrying pie.  Neighbour Keith regularly arrives carrying a chocolate cake.  There’s nothing wrong with that either.

The contraption I built on the back of the Golden Falcon is still attached.  I watched our shadow whenever I could see it and stopped regularly on the way to Saskatoon but so far disaster hasn’t struck.  We’re set up in 16 West, just north of the YXE airport.  The place is almost full, hard as that may be to believe on the last day of May.  And they’re pretty proud of the place too - $40 per night plus the usual government usury.

Last night when I posted I learned that Google and Microsloth are in a minor pissing war over Windows Live Writer and Blogspot.  Evidently Google changed something on Blogspot and Messysloth hasn’t bothered to fix Live Writer so that it will continue to work.  The company that Bill built more or less gives Live Writer away now so I suppose they aren’t very motivated to fix the problem but there’s a large community of pissed off writers.  I of course didn’t know any of this until I got some arcane error message when I tried to upload my web posting.  Then I went through the usual crap – reboot, log in again, etc etc – before I tried Googling the problem.  Have another piece of pie. 


Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Clampetts of Buchanan

Once we got done roofing I launched into building that contraption on the back of the fifth wheel.  The barbeque and camp stove are in the big plastic box.  The bikes are obvious. The spare tire lies on the curb side and the outdoor rug stores on top of the tire.  With any luck my weld will hold for at least a couple of weeks.  As long as they don’t fail completely I can patch the weak spots whenever we get back to Buchanan.

I hope the structure is adequate to the task.  There’s not much frame to work with on the 5th wheel.  The frame is 2” x 6” box beam but its paper thin – maybe 10 gauge.  There’s a more substantial c-section frame around the axles and then the main frame sits on top of that.  I ran 2” x .188 angle irons along that box beam for about 4 feet and stitch welded it but I had a lot of trouble with blowing through the box beam.  I put some tabs right at the back of the frame that run up from the angle iron along the side of the box beam and then plug welded them to the box beam.  That should help where the maximum weight transfer occurs.  Time will tell I guess.

Tomorrow we’re off on a 10+ day road trip.  Marilyn has a couple of appointments in Saskatoon this week.  I’ve got a meeting there and we’ve both got Dr’s appointments.  So we’ll hang out in the city until the end of the week and then we’re going up to Waskesiu.  We haven’t been there for several years so we’re both really looking forward to getting back there.  Our favourite thing to do there is ride our bikes into town in the evening, buy tea at the store and sit on the big chairs in front of the store.  We’ll sit there watching the lake until someone we know comes by.  Most nights we can wait it out until we have a visit with somebody before it gets dark.  By next weekend a lot of the seasonal crowd should be back at the lake but it won’t be stupid busy because the kids are still in school.

There’s some kids in town that run a bear camp.  They get a pretty steady stream of Americans up here this time of year.  I talked to one of the fathers this morning – he says they have 14 more hunters to go this season.  They take them up into the hills south of Hudson Bay and it appears they are pretty successful. 

They take the “dead bear” photos just across the back alley, up against the Murray’s row of spruce trees.  Whenever I notice them over there I go across and take some pictures of my own.  The crew this morning was from Wisconsin.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Odds & ends

We’ve spent the week putting shingles on the roof.  Not all day and not every day but that’s pretty well all we have to show for the week.



Yesterday Marilyn & I pulled most of the old shingles off the east side.  We finished that up this morning and got it cleaned up.  Then she went off to art class.  Neighbour Keith showed up this afternoon and we got about 5 feet covered.  We’ve got 2 sewer stacks, a chimney and 3 roof ventilators to work around tomorrow but we should get pretty close to the peak if we have a half decent day.  We may run out of shingles – in theory I bought enough but it sure doesn’t look like we have enough to finish.  We didn’t completely finish the west side so we don’t have an accurate count on how many it takes to do a side.  That was a mistake.

A couple of nights ago I took the little Case that I rebuilt last fall down to the other house with the mower.  It mows great – I think I was easily done in under an hour but the job was not without incident.  I was cutting under some old lilac trees, dodging branches and getting slapped when all of a sudden there was a loud bang and my ear started hurting.  At first I thought one of the dried up branches had given me a fierce whack upside the head.  Then I realized that there was a little blood coming out of my ear and the hurting was more inside than outside my ear.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that – unlikely though it may sound – I must have rammed a little dried up branch directly up my ear canal and punctured my eardrum.  As the little Dr. Singh in Canora said yesterday morning “Are you sure?  That is very hard to do.”  Hard to do or not she confirmed that there is a hole in my eardrum.  Dr. Google says it will take from 2 to 3 months to heal.  Dr. Singh was more optimistic but I’m keeping my expectations low.

Neighbour Keith is a gardening fool.  But he very kindly planted twice as many hills of potatoes this year as he did last year to accommodate our appetites.  He’s very precise – measuring all the time, making straight rows and marking them with little flags.  And he uses a lot of sheep shit – A VERY LOT of sheep shit.   He brought home a whole truckload of bagged sheep shit – who knew that they even put sheep shit in bags? 

He seems to know what he’s doing because he grew one hell of a garden last year.  He’s been helping us with the shingles and then rushing back to his garden so tonight I thought I’d help him out with his garden.  He had a whole area of the garden where there weren’t any of the little flags yet so I put a couple there.  And he didn’t have any in the row with the tomatoes so I put one there.  And then just for good measure I put a couple in between a couple of the other rows. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Moving dirt

I’m not making any money but I’ve sure been busy moving dirt around.  First off I spent close to a week redirecting rainwater on our neighbour’s yard. 



We dug the black dirt out on the north and east sides of the house and put in about 18” of clay fill.  We compacted that to direct rainwater away from the house and then put the black dirt back over top.  Eventually Keith is going to trench in some weeping tile at the edge of the clay to route the water past the house and into the storm drains.  He’s had a lot of water problems.

I spent yesterday building up the road by the Co-op’s bulk fuel tank.  The delivery truck has been digging some serious ruts.  We’ve hoping that a layer of compacted clay will help there as well.

Today I was east of town deepening a drainage ditch for a guy who says he currently has 4 sump pumps running constantly just to keep his basement dry.  He had a big trackhoe in some time ago to make a ditch but the operator left the trench with a hump in the middle so it wouldn’t actually drain the area it was intended to drain. 

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In those pictures I’m straddling the ditch crosswise and digging over the side of the excavator tracks.  That went reasonably well except when it didn’t.  Occasionally the sides of the old trench caved in and dropped me into the trench.  One all but one occasion I was able to push myself out but one time I got pretty well buried and Monte had to come pull me out.  As you can see, there was plenty of water in the ditch.  I just started at the high end and carried 2 feet of water depth the whole way along the trench.  It was a little hard to see what I was doing in the muddy water but once it started running the water cleared up and I went back looking for obstructions.  There were a few but surprisingly few.

Our weather is scheduled to warm up tomorrow and that coincides with me being ready to start changing out the shingles on the house.  I finished up replacing the fascia boards tonight and I think that was the last thing holding up starting on the shingles.  So tomorrow morning I will strip about 5 feet on the west side and get at it.  There was water damage to the gyproc in the kitchen when we moved in which we think had to be caused by a roof problem.  I can’t see anything from outside but there is an area that is soft which roughly corresponds to the area that was damaged so I’m prepared for some roof repair in addition to the shingle replacement.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Waddaya gonna do now?


So the Notley crew met for the first time yesterday.  We’ve seen this play before when Smilin’ Jack’s orange crush moved through Quebec creating the NDP official opposition in Ottawa.  But its one thing to be in charge of being a thorn in the side of the Harper government and quite another thing to be in charge of one of the economic dynamos of the Canadian economy.

We’ve got friends with a business outside Calgary.  One of the partners is shell shocked.  The other is in denial.  Nobody thought this could happen in Alberta.  But it did and ultimately the people get the government they deserve.

As the big zero has demonstrated south of the border, a government dedicated to tearing down business can do an incredible amount of damage in just four years.  This is one time when we can hope for a resilient bureaucracy that is smart enough to wait out the amateur act that is about to unleash itself in Edmonton.  

Four years because, if Albertans re-elect the socialists, then they deserve everything they get.  Fool me once – shame on you.  Fool me twice – shame on me.

Meanwhile in Saskatchewan what’s bad for Alberta won’t be all bad for us.  We can count on at least a few head office relocations from Calgary to Saskatoon.  Saskatchewan’s star has been rising for a while now – the eclipse in Alberta will only make it easy to see.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

They’re multiplying like rabbits


This little guy was on Kijiji for about a month before I showed him to Marilyn.  I had pretty well convinced myself that it was silly to get a third (fourth if I count the Roper) garden tractor.  But its kind of a classic and Marilyn thought it was cute.  I do too.  Plus the guy who owned it was almost giving it away and it has 4 brand spanking new tires on it.  So we took off early Monday morning, met some friends for lunch in Winnipeg and picked up a 50 year old garden tractor in St. Vital after lunch.  Then we had coffee with some other friends in Brandon, spent the night in Russell and came home Tuesday.  On the way home we stopped in Yorkton and picked up enough shingles to redo the roof at 515.


That’s a stationary “elevator” engine that sold last weekend just north of town.  I think they also called them a “hit and miss”.  It was quite a performance getting it started but once it was running it chugged away quietly for about half an hour until it was sold.  Starting it involved a grain auger strategically positioned so that the auger engine could be belted to the hit and miss.  The problem was that v-belts don’t track very well on flat pulleys but the crew persevered and got it running.

  I believe “hit and miss” comes from the fact that they are a 4 stroke, single cylinder, very slow turning engine.  As a 4 stroke they need to make two complete revolutions for every power stroke so the non-firing stroke is the miss and the power stroke is the hit.  Engines like this used to power the iconic grain elevators that marked every town in western Canada.  I don’t remember them but clearly many people in the audience at the auction sale could remember hearing them run every day.


Aside from running to Winnipeg to pick up superfluous garden tractors, I’ve been busy helping our neighbour improve the drainage in his yard.  Until recently the program was that water entered from the back alley, flowed through his garden, under his deck, down the wall and into his basement.  He’s understandably not enthused about continuing that system so we removed his deck, lifted the concrete slab and step under the deck and stripped back the topsoil on the north and east side of his house.  Then we hauled 4 loads of clay and today we backfilled around the house with clay.  He’s been tamping that close to the house and I packed most of it with the Scat Trak.  There was over 2 yards of gravel under his concrete slab – in places it was more than a foot deep.  That was further serving to channel water toward his basement.  The clay underneath the gravel was a classic prairie frost boil which the little Scat promptly disappeared into as soon as we got the gravel cleared away.  Right now we’ve got a fairly solid clay cap about a foot thick over top of the boil.  I’m not sure that’s a good long term fix but he seems happy with it so I guess its his yard & his problem.



Friday, May 1, 2015

Crime in Buchanan

We may be experiencing the beginning of a geriatric crime wave in our little village.  The prime suspects are 70+ year old Nick and the old woman I live with.  First some background.

Our neighbour Keith is very deaf.  He has some spectacular hearing aids that he wears on an apparently random schedule.  I’m never sure whether I need to shout or whether a normal conversation is possible.  My confusion is compounded by his standard deaf person tendency to pretend he understands even when he hasn’t the faintest bloody clue what you just said. 

Yesterday we tore out his deck, the step that the deck had been covering and a substantial portion of the concrete slab surrounding the step. 




The little loader handled the deck remarkably well.  We didn’t put so much as a scratch on the house.  We don’t have any pictures of breaking up the slab but it was a bit of an adventure.  I didn’t think we had any hope without sawing it first but I managed to get a bucket tooth wedged under a corner, pried it up and had Keith stick a log under the corner.  After that it got easier and eventually I got the entire 15 foot wide slab coming up but it has a lot of steel in it so it refused to break clean.  I ended up folding over a 10 foot section on itself but that necessitated a change of plans that left Keith scrambling to clear a place for me to push the folded slab onto.  When I finally pushed it over it fell with a mighty crash but the steel held and we ended up with his slab folded in half.  We’ll eventually cut the steel with a grinder but that’s not the point of the story.

Somewhere during that mad scramble to clear a path for the falling slab Keith lost one of his hearing aids.  That put him in a frenzy this morning which culminated in him locking himself out of his house.  He realized he was locked out when he returned home to get the hat he had forgotten in his rush to leave for Yorkton.  I’m not sure why he was going to Yorkton.  The first we knew about his distress was when he rang the doorbell just as I was about to start a conference call this morning.  After a short visit he left for Yorkton, I went on my call and SWMBO launched her crime spree. 

Evidently Marilyn went out to wander around Keith’s yard in search of his missing hearing aid and Nick stopped to visit.  Nick is kind of the unofficial supervisor of everything that happens around town.  I’m not quite sure how that conversation morphed into the two of them breaking into Keith’s house but that’s apparently exactly what happened.  They used our ladder and Nick, who is surprisingly spry for any age, let alone 72, squirmed through the bathroom window.  Once they had the house open Marilyn called Keith to confess to their crime.  Only in Buchanan would a pair of geriatric criminals confess to the crime before the victim was aware he had been victimized.