Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter's Last Hurrah (We hope!)

We woke up to a few inches of snow.

There was a real feeding frenzy around the feeders this morning.  The birds seemed to be sharing better, as quite often there was a bird on all four sides of the feeder.  

A whole bunch of robins stopped by

Junco on the edge of the deck

Towhee at the suet block

The chickens weren't impressed though.
She said if we came outside we could have ice cream.  This might look like ice cream, but it sure doesn't taste like ice cream!
She tricked us...puuuck, puck, puck, puck

Whether it tastes like ice cream or not, the dogs love it

And now it's mild, there's some wind and the snow is melting.
Thankfully the only water we'll have to carry now is out to Pride until his water trough thaws enough to be able to break the ice.  It's probably frozen right through to the bottom at the moment.

Time to get back to our regularly scheduled program, Spring that is!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Freaking Bleeping Smoke Detector

I'll start off by saying that smoke detectors save lives, everyone should have them, the batteries (if they have them) should be changed regularly, and they should never be disconnected.
But, what if.....?
When we did a major addition to our house, starting 15+ years ago, and we ain't done yet, we had to put wired in smoke detectors in the new part.  At the south end of the house we added a ground level family room and a single car garage next to it.  There is a gas fireplace in the family room, that is on non stop from the cool weather of Fall, until we get some warm weather in the Spring.  That and the wood stove are the only heat in the house. The family room ceiling is vaulted and the stairs go up from there to the dining area on top of the garage.  There is a rail along the 8' opening in the dining room, and it is open to the family room below.  To pass the building inspection of the new addition, we had to put a smoke detector on each level.  The smoke detectors have to be wired to a house circuit, and to a circuit that it has a lot of things on it that are used regularly.  That means that you can't turn the breaker off for the smoke detector without it affecting other things that you need on a regular basis, like lights and electrical outlets.
The smoke detector in the dining room became an issue right away. It was located on the slightly peaked ceiling  just out of sight looking from the kitchen.  Just about every time we made toast, that smoke detector went off, and it was most annoying.   When we climbed up to check it, within the workings of the smoke detector itself, there was a little plug thing.  It got unplugged, and has remained unplugged ever since.
Last night I had planned on going to bed early.  I spend too many late nights on the computer, which is in the family room.  Anytime before midnight would be early.  After posting my 365 photo, I got sidetracked into looking at wood furniture  (we are looking for a couple of night tables).  About 11:30 I'm heading to bed, still early for me.  The smoke detector in the family room went off briefly.  I did recall that before when we've had really cold overnight temperatures we've had issues with it.  Thought nothing more of it and went to bed.  At 12:30 I'm woken by the smoke detector beeping, which is at the other end of the house.  I ignore it, it stops. I try to get back to sleep.  It starts again. Repeat the previous three sentences ten times or so.  Jake has come into the bedroom. Jake HATES/FEARS the smoke detector.  I hear him rustle every time it starts beeping again.  Finally I stagger out of bed, walk through the dark house to the family room.  First I turn the gas fire down, and then instead decided to turn the ceiling fan on.  It is set on low.  I go back to bed.  All is quiet.  All is good.  I try to fall back to sleep.
It goes off quickly.  I fall into some weird dream.  It bleeps again.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  I wonder how the bleeping man can sleep through all this bleeping bleeping.  I get out of bed, stagger a bit, and I am a little confused. It takes me a few seconds to figure out how to get out of the bedroom.  We changed the bed around and this is only the second night in the new spot, so now instead of having to walk around two sides of the bed to get to the door, I have to walk around three.  I am next to the window though (bonus!). It's now about 2:30am.
This time I turn the gas fire down very low.  I figure I'd rather be cold when I got up after a decent night's sleep (or what's left of it), than not get any sleep at all. Repeat the above paragraph, minus the finding my way  to the door. It's now 4am.  The bleeping man is still sleeping. This time I had to find a chair to stand on to pull the chain on the fan to get it run on high speed. 
Stagger back to bed.  All is quiet.  Then it starts all over again.  4:30 am.  This time (Hooray!) bleeping man wakes up with a start, likely wondering if the house is on fire. (I do seem to have a thing for not wanting to wake people up that are still managing to sleep).  Obviously I can't count on him to wake up when the smoke detector goes off, the first time.  I recount my story in the self pitying, suffering way women can.  He gets up to see what he can do.  Then I hear David thumping up the stairs.  His room is next to the family room.  I wonder if it has actually taken him this long to hear it.  Yay for men who (finally) react in an emergency.  I hear a call for the ladder, and Larry says it is out in the barn.  I shout that it is outside the bedroom door, where he put it when we were working on the closet.  We've only been walking past it for too many days.  David goes up the ladder, can't find anything to disconnect, so they all go back to bed.  Silence for a while.  Then it starts again.  I said that there is a plug thing in the dining room one, there must be a plug in the family room detector.  Surely we bought them at the same time from the same place.  Seems like we didn't.  He still couldn't find anything to disconnect, but he did manage to break one of the tabs on the cover, so now that the cover stayed off, we got silence and it stayed silent.  Well until I got up before 8, turned the fan off that was blowing cold air around the family room, went down and sat at the computer, and the smoke detector started beeping.  So here I am with a blanket wrapped around me.  Jake says the only safe place in the house is the bedroom.

Update:  Yes the smoke detectors are the same.  After balancing at the top of the step ladder in the middle of the family room, and then on the dining room table upstairs, I realized that you don't take the top off off the smoke detector.  What you do is grab the top, and unscrew it and the base from the ring that is attached to the ceiling.  The plug is behind that.  It is unplugged, and the stepladder will remain in the middle of the family room to remind us to plug it back in when this cold snap is over.  All I can figure is that the gas fire is burning more vigorously because it's so cold, and something is setting of the smoke detector.  It's not a carbon monoxide detector, so it's not that.
Oh yeah, the bleepingness of the husband may have been exaggerated in the telling of this story:)
We had to coax Jake out of the bedroom this morning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One Determined Dog

Just before we went out this afternoon Luna started playing with her ball under the deck.  She seemed like she was trying to get it up the steps to the patio.  I stood and watched as she got the ball up onto the first and second step, but it would always end up back at the bottom.  She persisted though and eventually she got it all the way to the top.

Pfffftttt to you, you didn't believe I could do it!

Luna, would you get off the daffodils!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Roll on Spring!

We got about half an inch of wet snow yesterday, and then it froze over night.  This morning it cleared up and we had a dusting of sparkling snow and sunshine. Very pretty!  

When we were coming back from our bush walk, the fog was really rolling up out of the valley.

Luna supervises while Pride gets his morning apple.

A real mixed bag of weather today.  Beautiful sunshine for a while, and it got quite mild and all the snow, other than in shaded spots, melted and disappeared. I did a bit of gardening, and Larry pruned the neighbour's trees.  Then late this afternoon some really dark clouds came over and we got another half an hour of snow, so we have a light covering on everything again.

Here's a bit of a video of Luna this morning.  The first part is where she has been left in a stay while Larry walks up through the riding ring with Pride to put his breakfast in his bucket.  She wants to harass Pride sometimes, so if we make her stay until Pride is in his shed, it's just safer for everyone.  And, it's good practice for her to stay when she'd really rather go!
Then she has a roll in the snow, and heads off to look for the perfect horse poop to snack on. 
We have started practicing her with our weave poles again.  When the spacing changed to 24" apart, we stopped using our 20" ones.  Obviously though we needed to keep practicing with her though, as she and Larry were having a lot of trouble in trials.  When Larry was having a lesson the other week, the trainer said she still uses her old poles, so since last week we run the dogs through them a few times on the way back from our walk.  It must be helping as Luna had brilliant weaves at our club practice last night, and the fact that they were 24" poles didn't seem to make any difference.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who Writes these Instructions Anyway?

We have bought a few things from IKEA before,  so are familiar with how it all works.  The instruction booklet is mostly just pictures, but there is the occasional blurb in it, in 31 different languages!  See how it shows you that you can't build it by yourself.  If that other person is a husband or wife,  the building part  has the possibility of getting a little ugly.

We were told with these storage units that they have to be mostly built in place, as they are too tall to tip up once all put together unless your ceiling is higher than 8'.

The instruction booklet shows you to start building with one side laid on the floor.  And that brilliant booklet covered all sizes of the closets.  Ours just happen to be the biggest size, nearly 8' tall and a metre wide.
 The next step is to add the bottom shelf and the supports underneath. That shelf is held to the side with three bolt things and two little dowels.  At this point the supports underneath are just held in position with two little dowels each, that aren't tight enough to hold it altogether.

So then that two person team that started out all friendly has to tip the whole thing up.  The first closet went okay, although by the time it was tipped upright, the support bars had come out of position.

Then see how it shows you the woman stood on the ladder positioning the top shelf over the bolts and dowels and at the top of the side, and then the man putting the other side in place, which only involves matching 3 bolts and two dowels with the corresponding holes at the top and 3 bolts and 6 dowels at the bottom.  All the while the person on the ladder has their arms a few inches from the ceiling, is starting to sweat buckets, and her shoulders are screaming trying to hold that heavy shelf in position.  
You're right, it's impossible.

So we ended up attaching the second side to the bottom, and then each went up a ladder and put the top piece in together, which was actually possible.  So now that the routine was figured out, we figured the next one would go together better.

As we were tipping the side and bottom piece up, the husband and wife team failed to communicate and the 90 degree angle between the side and bottom was NOT maintained.  This unfortunately meant that the pressure pulled a couple of the bolts loose, and since this was particle board, there was no way they could be placed back into the same holes.  After some discussion we put them back in with a bunch of glue, but in the end we decided that since the sides were reversible, what started out as the right side got flipped top to bottom and became the left side.  This meant we could put the bolts into new holes.  And since the top fastened in the top hole and the bottom fastened to the third hole from the bottom, the broken holes didn't have to be used at all.
Then we decided that it was best if one person held the first side vertical while the other person put the bottom piece on.  Then they brought the other side over and attached it in the vertical position, and then both went up ladders together to put the top piece on.  Worked like a charm, and the third and fourth cabinets went together in half an hour total. 

And.... we were still speaking to each other when it was all done!

The bed was converted into a temporary workbench

At this point the cabinets are all leveled and fastened to each other.  The backs are on, the holes are cut for the electrical outlets and phone line, and the extension cord is in place.  We just have to finish fastening the cabinets to the wall, and then we can start putting drawers and shelves in.  That will be the fun part, I hope.  Although realistically, having to put nine drawers together is going to get old really fast.

And I wouldn`t want you to think the dogs have been neglected through all this.  We had a nice walk down at the dyke this afternoon with Jeff and Sue and Pippin.

Afterwards we all went out to dinner to use the overly generous gift certificate that they had given us for looking after Pippin at Christmas.
The best part of the meal was near the end when we were having coffee, and we were asked if we minded switching tables so they could use ours to add to the large party next to us.  We didn`t need to be bribed, as it was no big deal, but the manager insisted that we have free dessert.
Who says *no* to free dessert....
certainly not me!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My 'Go To' Job

I mentioned last week that Larry had spent quite a bit of time pruning the fruit trees, which are now all done, and look great. That was what he worked on when he wanted to go outside and do something, but didn't want to start one of those difficult jobs. Now he's off to prune the neighbour's trees.
My 'go to' job has been to go out to the sheep barn and shovel out, oh, maybe four years worth of compacted sheep manure and hay.  When we still had lambs each year, it used to get cleaned out each spring before the lambs came.  Since we haven't had lambs for a few years, the urge to get it cleaned out hasn't been quite the same.  The barn is in rough shape though.  The walls are leaning out in some spots, some of the siding has been knocked off.  The sheep took out a small section of wall when something spooked them and they all tried to barge through a narrow doorway at once.  That's sheep for ya!
Anyway, to fix that barn, it needs to be cleaned out so that we can work on it properly, without have accumulated bedding pushing against the walls.
So what I have been doing is going out there most days and shovelling out at least two wheelbarrow fulls.  I figure there are between forty and fifty wheelbarrows worth in there.  I've almost got to the half way point.
The chickens like to hang out in there.  It's a dry sheltered spot, out of the wind.

In the middle of the barn the pile is the thickest, probably a foot thick or more.
I say shovel it out, but there is no way to shovel it. The stuff is hard and packed solid. You have to use a pitch fork.  You stamp it in along the edge, at an angle.  Then you push the fork handle away from you like a lever.  Then you push it down towards the ground (more levering).  Next you push it in a bit further with your foot and lever it away from you again.  At this point if you are lucky you might be able to push it far enough that you prise a piece off, which you then put in the wheelbarrow, and then you start all over again in a new spot.  Yep, a mindless job.  Lots of time to daydream though.

The first 15 or so loads were pushed down to the garden

And then I mulched the raspberry rows with it.  That white stuff is ashes from the wood stove.  The leaves from the two broad leaf maples near the house are raked up and spread between the rows to keep the grass under control.

The raspberries are all mulched now, and so it's time for the fruit trees.  
Gone is the branch heart, and now I'm working on a poop ring. 
You put the mulch out at the drip line which is where most of the tiny little feeder roots are underground.

And of course there is always time for some ball playing.  Luna was out in the field with us, but when I went back to the house for the camera, she discovered her soccer ball in the garage.  You can just see her in the background with it, by the picnic table. 

But before I finished she did come back to do a little chicken herding.

Only about 25 more wheelbarrows to fill.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eagles and Trivia, but not Trivial Eagles

We were heading into town yesterday.  Thankfully only got a couple of miles away, when I suddenly remembered that I had left a bag with two fresh chickens and 5 packages of frozen ground beef on the stairs to the family room.
Long story short....I was unloading a cooler of meat that I had left overnight in the car.  I had put the beef and chicken on the stairs to take to the upstairs freezer, while I put some beef lung (dog food) in the freezer in the garage.  While I was in there, I took some meat out of that freezer to put in the fridge in the utility room to thaw out for the dogs, and then continued up the other stairs, forgetting all about the bag on the family room stairs.
Calli didn't have access to it, and Jake and Luna are pretty good about not taking something they shouldn't when we are around, but I think that would be just tempting fate to leave them alone with a bag of meat like that.  So we turned around right by this tree with the three eagles sitting in it.  Since we had to go back home, I grabbed the camera and took these shots when we passed the tree again. I had to wonder what they had been eating to make the top of their heads so dirty like that.
The weirdest thing was when we got into town and were driving down a four lane street right next to the high school. There was an eagle on the sidewalk with something grey and rain washed.  Dead cat or opossum I'm guessing, but so weird to see the eagle on the sidewalk in such a busy urban area.  I've heard they are really struggling to find food this winter.  Unfortunately there was nowhere to stop, as it would have been a great photo.  When you are on the same level as one, it makes you realize how large those birds really are.

And on a completely different note...
Larry popped that all important question 30 years ago today.
I guess I must have said yes!
Oops, thought I beat the midnight cutoff, guess not, just pretend this was actually posted on Tuesday.

Monday, February 14, 2011

To IKEA, IKEA, to buy a fat pig.

They sell pigs at IKEA?  Well no, but they do sell closet systems, and we needed one. 
Sometime near the end of last year I had suggested that we just make one whole wall of our bedroom a closet.  We have this piddly little closet, which is mostly useless to us. We went to IKEA to have a look, and liked what we saw.  We were told that if we weren't in a hurry, there was usually a sale in the new year.  In a hurry, us?  uhhh, no.  So in January when the flyer came out, we said we'd better get ourselves there.  Time passed and the 20% off sale was going to be over in a couple of days, so we thought we'd better get there, jiggety jig.

Unfortunately the getting there was no jiggety jig.  What with construction at the west (far) end of the Port Mann Bridge, and an accident on the bridge, the traffic was backed up up to 200th St., which is about seven miles east of the bridge itself.  After it taking us nearly half an hour to go three miles, we got off at the next exit, along with a line of other cars driving illegally up the right shoulder, and backtracked to the Golden Ears Bridge (toll bridge) and took the long way round.  A half hour drive had become an hour and a half.

We got it all figured out as to what we needed, and headed down to the warehouse to load it on our cart.  That stuff weighs a ton.  Thankfully though they do give you the weight of each box, and after some calculation we realized that to take it all in one trip would mean that our Ford Ranger was going to be seriously overloaded.  Two trips it was going to be.
That evening I was in the bedroom, starting to take stuff off the dresser so that it could eventually be moved out of the way.  I pulled it out from the wall, and that's when I realized that two of the electrical outlets, which was half of the room's total, plus a phone jack, are on that wall.  The phone jack was not biggy, but the outlets were.
What to do?
We mulled over all the options, and none of them were pretty.  Finally we decided we were going to cut out the back of the closet over the outlets.  We'd use a power bar and cut a notch so it could go under the base of the closet and reappear at the corner along the other wall, and be long enough to go under the bed, where the bedside lamps could plug into it.  The other wall has the bed on it, and there are no outlets there.  Bad planning by someone 50 years ago.  .

We figured that we would get the second load Saturday evening after the agility trial.  After all, when we hit the freeway after leaving Cloverdale, we were already half way there.  But, unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.  The trial ran so late that we would have only made it to IKEA 15 minutes before closing time.
That left us with Sunday morning.  Sunday was the last day of the sale.  We were aiming to get there at the 10am opening, but after making a stop at Home Depot, to get a long corded, flat plugged power bar we were 45 minutes late.
Those who do not go to church on Sunday mornings, go to IKEA.
Good grief:(
The line up at the restaurant was huge.   The line up at the cafeteria for  2 hot dogs and a pop for $2 was short.  Guess which healthy choice we picked?
I don't know if I was having hot flashes, or it is just too warm in there....whatever, it was just too warm in there.  Well there were just too many people in the store.  

We managed to get everything we needed,  I hope.  While Larry was going through the checkout  hand over your life's savings line up, I bought us that healthy food.  Oh, and don't forget the healthy chocolate, 100g for $1, right here, just down from the checkout.  At the checkout we had to unload several hundred pounds of boxes off the cart so that the girl could scan the UPC code on a box that wasn't accessible otherwise.  I took my jacket off.  I had dressed lightly, there was nothing else to take off.  I pushed my sleeves up.  I gulped cold pop.  We headed to the underground parking to load up.  Thank goodness it was cool outside.  The freaking IKEA carts have four wheels that all spin.  Any slight slope and the cart slides sideways down the hill. Locking wheels would be a good thing.

Our dining room is piled with IKEA boxes.  They are easy to trip over.  Larry just did.  He said he pulled something.

We'd better get this all put together before he seriously injures himself.

I had actually planned on taking photos of all sorts of heart shaped things for today's post.
Huh, wonder what happened to that plan.

Here's the only one I took.  Before we picked up the pruned off branches around the apple tree last week, I rearranged them.
Happy Valentines Day!