Tag Archives: flowers

Big Hairy Deal

It’s been a while since my last post. Since then I have run into some laptop issues where my charging cord will no longer charge the battery in my laptop. It runs fine off the battery, but I can’t charge it. Fortunately, Kat and I have the same laptop so she can be charging a battery while I’m using one. As a result of this, I have greatly reduced my computing time, in general, which also means fewer blog posts.

We’ve been here and there this summer, doing some house sitting in the city a number of weeks. We’ve also been helping some friends with a construction project. On top of all that we’re working on getting our own projects completed and now that September is here, it’s important to get these things done while it’s still warm. The biggest task is finishing our firewood processing. Fortunately, we shouldn’t have much more to do on that front.

Kat had some nice looking flowers come up in her flower garden over the summer months and I managed to snap a few pictures so I thought I would include those here. We’ll start with the irises.

Next are the fox gloves.

Finally, we have the day lilies.

We do still have a few day lilies, but they’re on their way out now.

Some other things we have on the go are: working on putting up some eaves trough so we can catch rainwater much easier (that’s about half done) and, of course, building that kitchen pantry we’ve wanted for the last three years.

In other news, side-by-side kittens on the bed.

Now we get to the really exciting part. I bet you’re wondering why I chose the title I did as it doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the text. Well, here is where that is explained. Just scroll down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you don’t know me, that picture won’t seem very interesting. If you do know me you’re probably exclaiming right now, “HOLY #$@$@!!! DAVE CUT HIS HAIR!!!” Yes, after twenty-nine (that’s 29) years I felt it was time for a change. I had one friend ask me, “How many years did you get rid of?” You can think of it as letting go of the past.

It’s time to move on to bigger and better things, not to mention that my shower time is waaayyy shorter now. 😀

Spring 2019

It has been quite a while since I last posted, I do realize. Over two months this time. Two months ago we were still buried in snow. That has changed now, thank goodness. Let me tell you about it.

Back at the end of March we got ourselves a new toy to improve our lives.

This is a Berkey water filter. Previously, we were buying large bottles of spring water from the store for drinking purposes. Now, with this new doodad, we can just pour rain water in it and fill our glasses from the spout, so no more buying water. Just don’t be in a big hurry for a drink if you just filled it. The filtering process can take quite a long time. We’re talking hours here, not minutes.

Moving forward, April 10th turned out to be a really nice day so we took some pictures.

Yup, still lots of snow.

The sun was out in full strength though, which our solar panels loved. We still had quite the pile of snow up against the plastic shield at that point.

Here are some random sunshine-in-a-snowy-forest pictures.

After a bit of digging, I found the drain pipe for our pond. Here you can sort of see it with a tiny bit of snow across it’s rim.

More snow and forest. Pond too, but you can’t really see that for the snow.

Remember that picture from back in the previous post with the bench buried under the snow? Well, on the 16th of April it looked like this.

We were out snowshoeing that day. It doesn’t look like there is much snow there by the bench, but just behind me there was plenty.

Apparently there was a crazy Kat lady behind me as well. The next one is a picture of where the Earthship will be.

So yeah, April is always a big transition month for us. Easter was in late April this year and we rented a car and drove out to PEI to surprise my Mom and Step-Father for their birthdays. That trip went quite well, but it rained a lot going there and on the way back. Fortunately, we got back before they closed large portions of the highway due to flooding.

Unfortunately, this meant that when we got back home we had another trench through our driveway.

Seeing as we already had the trench dug, we decided to put in a second emergency drain going through there for when the water gets too high. This project was another one of those use-what-you-have-on-hand kind of things. I happened to have some 4″ (10cm) PVC pipe lying around gathering dust so I glued them together to make a long pipe.

I added the tape because one of my pipe joiners was a bit cracked. I’m not super concerned about it leaking, as it’s just going to go in the ground.

Anyway, I put the pipe in the trench and started to bury it. I also had some pieces of 2×10 lying around that I put over the pipe after I had filled in around it to try and give it a bit more resilience. It’s not perfect by any means, but hopefully it will prevent the pipe from being crushed if a heavy vehicle drives over it.

Here you can see it all filled in with dirt.

After I finished that part, Kat came out and gathered some of the gravel that had been washed down the ditch and used it to cover the dirt. It has been driven over quite a bit since then and we haven’t had any issues. Hopefully it will do the trick.

Obviously with all of that rain while we were away, most of the snow that was left had melted so it was time to take the shield down from the the front of the trailer.

We just roll it up and keep it in place with some bungee cords. This makes it easy to reinstall in the fall.

This is what it looked like down our driveway near the end of April.

As mentioned previously, our truck died and we were looking for a new one. Well, after roughly seven weeks of searching, we finally ended up with this.

Yup, it’s a big red truck. In case you’re wondering it’s a 2008 Dodge Ram and it had about 328,000km on it. We were on a limited budget so it’s difficult to find a perfect vehicle. We thought this one was pretty decent for what we paid, which is why we have it. It drives and feels quite a bit different than the old GMC, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it.

We’re well into May now and we’ve had the usual frantic bird activity at our feeder this spring. The humming birds have been back for a while too. You know when they show up because they hover right in front of our big window wondering where the hummingbird feeder is.

Speaking of said hummingbird feeder, some of the larger birds get a bit confused.

That’s a rose breasted grosbeak trying to figure out how to get the feeder to dispense some goodness. Unless he can drink through that red patch on his chest, I don’t think it’s gonna work out.

Now that we have a truck again, spring time firewood processing has started. We have borrowed a chainsaw from a friend due to the fact that the recoil spring on mine broke while we were doing our initial harvest. It is smaller and only has a 16″ (40cm) bar on it so we got Kat suited up and we cut up all of the stuff that we dragged out of the forest.

As of today, the full brunt of black flies and mosquitoes has yet to arrive. That will likely change this week as we are expecting some warmer weather. We have been having fairly cool evenings which helps to keep the bugs away, but it only lasts so long.

Well, now you know what is going on, for the most part. I don’t have any news to share yet on the job front, but some opportunities have been coming my way so something is bound to happen soon.

I will leave you with this lovely picture of the daffodils we have in our garden.

Where have we been

So here we are at the last day of August and I haven’t posted anything in ages. Now it’s time to rectify that.

This is going to be a mishmash of a bunch of different things.

First, some projects that we’ve been working on.

If you recall from last year, we installed a new counter top around the sink in the kitchen, along with associated cupboards and drawers.

Notice that gap at the 45° angle where the bare wood behind is showing. We now have a new piece put in to cover that.

It wasn’t all that difficult, however I did discover that my table saw can’t handle cutting a piece of red oak 19mm (3/4″) thick at a 45° angle. The motor isn’t powerful enough to do the cut. I had to take the piece over to a friend’s place and use their table saw to do it. After that, it was stain and varnish as usual.

Next on the project list is our front steps.

When we put them in last year we only put one coat of varnish on them. They got all mucky during the winter, as you can see, so we decided to redo them.

Of course, we couldn’t take them all off at the same time as then we’d need to put a trampoline in front of the door to get in and out. So we’ve been working on it one step at a time, as it were. I have a spare piece of the same lumber that I cut to size and clamp it into position while we work on redoing each step. This means we can take our time and we can still get in and out of the trailer without issue.

Here is the first step after refinishing.

I put each step through the planer a few times to get rid of all the junk on top. Then we stained it. The stain we used was one we bought for some other reason that neither Kat nor I can remember, and when we put it on it was hardly even noticeable. We applied two coats of stain and then six coats of varnish. In the end, they have turned out alright.

We’ve finished two of the three steps and are working on the third right now.

In other news, wood shavings. We were getting low on bulking material for the composting toilet so we stopped at one of the many lumber mills they have around here and asked if we could have some. We filled up four large garbage bags from a mountain of the stuff that they had at no charge.

The only thing about those wood shavings is that they were wet and we didn’t want them rotting in the bags, or worse frozen into one clump come winter so I devised a method to dry them out.

I put a tarp in the truck bed and spread the shavings out on top of it. This did require several stirrings and a few days of good sunshine, but in the end it worked pretty well.

One of the last big things to rebuild in the trailer since we tore it apart to have it spray foamed, is the kitchen pantry. Being on a limited budget this year, we haven’t been able to go out and buy the materials for it. I did, however, have enough materials on hand to build the drawer that forms the base of the pantry.

Above is the spot where the pantry will be. You can see how I have already put in the side pieces on the left. The reason we are putting a drawer here is so, in the event we need to get access to the plumbing at the back, we can take out the drawer and still get to the clean-out in the pipe.

Needless to say, there was a lot of fiddling to get things just right as nothing is square or level and we need to make all sorts of cut-outs for the pipes and wiring.

Here is Inspector Fizgig checking out the work so far.

Further along, we have the final framing for what the drawer will be mounted to and what the pantry will be sitting on.

Why the double layer on the left side, you might be wondering? You can’t see all of the details of the back wall there, but the left edge of the pantry will actually not be up against the edge of the counter due to irregularities in the wall. As a result of this, I wanted to have something solid for the left edge of the pantry to sit on so I put a double layer of lumber on that left side. To cover the drawer there is going to be two layers of 19mm (3/4″) plywood for the pantry to sit on, so it should be pretty stable. It’s not going to be made of particle board so there will be some significant weight to the pantry, especially once you fill it up so I want to make it as stable as I can.

Anyway, I put the drawer together for the spot and then discovered that it was too wide. This is partially due to the fact that I thought the drawer rails were 11mm but they’re actually 13mm. Also, I was using lumber of different dimensions. The drawer front and back are 16mm (5/8″) but the sides are 19mm (3/4″) and somewhere I forgot to take that extra width of the sides into account.

At first I thought I only had to fix one side of the drawer as I hadn’t discovered my mistake with the rail thickness yet. I pulled the one side off the drawer (which isn’t fun after you’ve glued it) and I ran it through the planer. Note to self, don’t ever put plywood through a planer. It’s okay if you are planing in the same direction as the grain, but as soon as you get through that layer, the next one will have it’s grain going 90° to the previous layer and the planer will destroy it. I got it down to the right thickness, but it looked really ugly.

After putting the drawer back together, it was then I discovered the issue with the rail thickness. This time I used a table saw (again a friend’s because mine couldn’t handle the job) and cut 4mm off the side of the drawer. I ran it through once, then flipped it over and ran it through again so there was only a strip in the middle that I had to deal with. I used my reciprocating Dremel (or oscillating tool) with a cutting attachment to handle this, but it wasn’t pretty nor was it quick.

After all was said and done, I did managed to get the drawer installed.

We plan to put shoes and boots in it as we seem to have an over abundance of those lying around.

I have also been putting in a fair amount of time at the top of the hill where we plan to build the earthship. I’ve been working on clearing it and it looks like quite the area of destruction.

There was quite a bit of brush saw work to handle all of the small stuff. That was several days worth of work. Once that was done, I brought out the chainsaw and in two tanks of gas I had the entire section cleared.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a before picture. Now we need to do something with all of stuff that was cut. We’ll probably wait until November and just make a big bonfire. Can’t do that now as there are restrictions on having fires during the day.

Our garden is quite interesting this year, mostly because we didn’t plant most of the stuff that is growing in it. This picture was taken near the beginning of August and we have quite the huge squash plant going on there in the foreground. Behind that we have potatoes and tomatoes. Somewhere in there where you can’t see are the watermelons we actually planted.

We were away for a week and came back to this.

The squash has jumped out into the yard on one side and one of the compost bins on the other. The tomatoes have also jumped the boundary and started taking over the other compost bin. It looks like we’re going to have enough tomatoes and squash to sink a small ship.

Here is an awesome picture of some day lilies from our flower garden.

And just to put the icing on the cake, here are Gurgi and Fizgig hanging out together on the bed.

Everybody got that?

Australian Wrap Up

Technically, we’re back in Canada now, getting over some major jet lag, but I kinda lagged a bit at the end there in making posts. It got a bit complicated with all of the traveling. So, I’m going to use this post to go over some of the stuff we did in our last few days down under.

On our last full day in Cairns, we decided to go check out the Cairns Aquarium. It included some terrarium stuff too, so not everything was wet. Let’s start with a doozy of a spider.

This spider was so big, that if you laid her on top of a cantaloupe, her legs would cover a full half of it. The one beside her wasn’t all that much smaller either.

These next ones are giant armored cock roaches. I’m sure you’re very happy to see them.

Of course, no trip to Australia would be complete without some pictures of crocodiles. It would have been nicer to get some pictures of them in the wild when we were on our rain forest tour, but that wasn’t to be.

Moving on to the more aquatic life, this is a picture of a crayfish.

Yes, he’s about the same size as a spiny lobster from down in Florida. I don’t know what the distinction is between a crayfish and a lobster, maybe it’s colour, cause these guys were pale blue.

Next we have a general bunch of fish.

Honeycomb moray eel, conveniently sticking his head out so we can see him.

The reef stone fish. Also known as the most venomous fish in the world.

Moon jelly fish. These were the things we swam through out on the Great Barrier Reef.

Another pleasant aquatic scene.

Big sea anemone with fish in front of it.

I don’t know what this next thing is, but it looks like a bright purple hamburger patty with bright neon-green hairs. How could you not take a picture of that.

Shark!

More sharks!

Sting rays too.

That’s it for the aquarium and that was it for Cairns. The next morning we flew down to Sydney to spend two nights there. We arrived in the late morning so Kat and I decided to go on walkabout.

We didn’t have to go very far before we ran into more greenery, which is good because Sydney is a typical big city with all of the traffic and hustle and bustle. It turns out the Royal Botanical Gardens weren’t all that far from our hotel and it being a rather lovely sunny day, we indulged.

Here is the entrance.

We encountered a lot of these birds, and not just in the gardens, but all over Sydney. I don’t know what they are called, but they kinda remind me of Gonzo from the muppets.

Huge leaning tree.

Of course, if you’re going to wander around some botanical gardens, you should stop and smell the flowers while you’re there. Like this rose.

Or maybe this one.

I caught Kat just after she had been on a sniff-a-thon.

Here is me being overwhelmed by the size of these aloe plants. That is what we assumed they were, but someone suggested that they might also be agave.

Picture from above looking down in to the parkway.

This little fellow is a kookaburra. He was quite used to strangers too. Kat was able to get close enough to tickle his tail feathers, but he drew the line at that and flew away to another perch.

They have some ginormous trees down there.

Here is Kat beside one for perspective.

Here is another example of one of those trees that are made up of lots of little trunks.

Coming out the other end of the gardens, we came upon a rather famous Sydney icon: the opera house.

It was fascinating to see it up close as you really don’t get the feel for the scale when you see it in pictures. It’s rather huge.

After that, we wandered back to our hotel. I have to take this moment to point out an interesting difference between the light switches down there and here in Canada.

They are tiny, and they work backwards compared to ours. When the top part is pressed in, they are off. I think that may simple be that they are on the underside of the planet and everything there is upside-down.

We had one more full day in Sydney before we needed to fly home, so we used that opportunity to go visit the zoo. This gave us a good chance to see all sorts of really lazy and tired animals because it was the middle of the day and it was too hot to be moving about.

We can start with a Komodo dragon, which technically speaking, isn’t native to Australia at all.

Lizard in a tree.

Really big python.

Iguana just hanging out.

A pile of gila monsters. Pink and black are great colours for these guys.

Another iguana, up in a tree.

Taipan, a really, really poisonous snake. He was up and moving around too.

Not sure which snake this one was, but he totally looks like a worn out bicycle tire inner tube.

Did someone say giraffes?

Not to worry, it’s just a mere-cat.

They also had two Sumatra tigers, which are on the severely endangered list as there are only about 400-500 still in the wild.

Big horny herbivore.

This is an otter that has the tail of another otter stuck in his mouth. All three of the otters were playing around.

This is a fishing cat.

The infamous kangaroo who just seem to be chillin’ in the afternoon heat.

Emu alert!

The third largest bird in the world is a cassowary. The tour guide for our rain forest hike was really hoping we would see one in the wild, but they are pretty rare. Fortunately, they had one at the zoo.

Wooohooo!! Lemurs! Who doesn’t like lemurs.

If you go into the gift shop, they have all manner of stuffed animals of all sizes that you can buy. Including this rather huge stuffed octopus that was putting the moves on Kat.

This is a red panda. Apparently the word “panda” literally means bamboo eater.

We took a selfie of ourselves as well, just to show that we were there.

That pretty much wraps up the whole trip. We caught our ride to the airport at 8am the next day and then hopped a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong. That took close to nine hours. We had a short wait in HK then a 14 hour flight from there to Toronto.

Get off in Toronto, do all of going through customs stuff, get your luggage, recheck your luggage, change terminals, and then hop another flight to Ottawa. Easy as cake.

Except for the fact that we have some hardcore jet lag going on right now. Waking up at 3am and crashing at 3pm has happened several times.

Oh well, it was all worth it.