Friday, September 22, 2017

It's A Go!

The guys will be here sometime tonight and they are bringing the shingles with them. I rented an equipment lift to get the shingles up to the roof. It was delivered and set up a little while ago and I was given lessons in it's use. Much easier than carrying them up the ladder a bundle at a timed

The weather looks good with no rain scheduled until Sunday night but we will have a brand new roof by then!

The Gods are smiling on our little project!

Thursday, September 21, 2017


For the first time is several years, I am sick! Sore throat, headache, sore eyes and just feeling weak and "Blah".

I better smarten up quick or I will be of very limited help on the roofing job.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Roof On The Weekend!!??

Brooks and the roofer have scheduled the new roof for Saturday and Sunday. I checked four weather sites and three of them are calling for rain while one of them (and the local news) is calling for clear.

This just sucks! If they come up and can't work I still have to pay for gas and some compensation for all the travel time. If we cancel and it turns out nice then that will suck just as much! Maybe more!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


We spent a couple of days "Down Island". Norma's brother lives in Victoria and suffered a stroke a few months ago. He is now in a new nursing home and was having a small birthday party. Norma and I headed down, picking up our youngest granddaughter, Sierrah, along the way. We bought a couple of cakes, one regular and one ice cream, got to the residence and found Willea's room. It is a nice place if you have to be in such a place. His totally separate wing or "house" as they call it has twelve residents, each with their own room and a dining room. There are two male nurses dedicated to the wing and more support staff available when needed.

A bunch of Willea's friends as well as Norma's cousins, Al and Colleen from Nanaimo showed up for a piece of cake and some catching up. The leftover cake was taken by the nurses to the next wing to be shared. Happy 73rd, Willea!

We then went with Sierrah to the "Green Cuisine" vegan restaurant she works in on weekends for lunch. It was my first venture into a vegan sanctuary and was about as I expected. I had nut loaf, a couple of salads, kale, veggies and some other stuff I can't spell. It is "buffet style" where you take whatever you want, they weigh it and you pay by the weight. All three plates weighed $33, a good deal. Sierrah wanted to treat but Norma and I successfully wrestled the bill from the struggling part time working student!

We left Sierrah to meet up with her friends downtown and fled Victoria to face the "Calwood Crawl", the horrible, snail paced traffic mass leaving Victoria each day. An hour or two later we arrived at Brooks' home in Shawnigan Lake where we had a fun evening of pizza and couple of scotch.

We left early as they were getting ready for work and after I raided Brooks' burn pile, stopped at the Pioneer House for a delicious breakfast and got home before noon, exhausted!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Roof Scheduled

When Brooks and his roofer friend CJ were up to build the new porch CJ reported that we needed a new roof. This is not the first time we had been told this as Mike, Norma' s grass cutter is a former roofer and told us the same thing when he went up there to install the roof vents. It is not an emergency but both said we would be lucky to get another year out of it.

Deciding to replace it when we had some control rather than in an emergency, we let Brooks and CJ schedule the job. CJ is bringing his worker up with him and Brooks and I will be here to help out where required. CJ is sure he can do it in two days which is good because he has a regular job to get back to.

CJ is driving up from Shawnigan Lake on Saturday to measure everything. He will order the material at his reduced rate and will arrange for rooftop delivery. They will be up on the weekend of Sept 23 to do the job. We are anxiously watching weather reports as there is rain forecast off and on for the next couple of weeks. So far it looks "OK" with light showers showing for the Saturday morning. We will hope for the best and hopefully the guys will have a "Plan B"

Saturday, September 9, 2017

All's Well In Cuba!

Our son Brooks just got a phone call from our mutual friends Roly and Christy in Cuba! The Internet is not working but the phones are back up. They are fine. The eye passed close to them but offshore and the effects of the storm were much less than they had been told to expect. There was little damage in their area near Cardenas (near Veradero).

It was just a quick international call to report in, I am sure there will be more details from them in the next few days but it is a great relief to hear they are well!

On to Florida!

Gritting Our Teeth For Irma!

We have friends in Cuba, friends in Florida and friends in South Carolina. All are in the path of Irma and are keeping us on our toes watching the hurricane's progress.

Roly and Christy live near Varadero, Cuba in a single story house. We are concerned for them but Roly is a very resourceful guy and I am sure they will be OK. The hurricane is rght over them as we speak. We have not heard from them since the day before yesterday.

Cherie and Chris (Technomadia Blog) have left their live aboard boat to it's fate in Marathon, FL (on the Keys) and drove a borrowed truck up to north Florida where they picked up their bus and are safely heading west out of Irma's path.

Our deceased friends Paul and Dodi lived in Lakeland, FL where their family and grandchildren still live. We got to know them all during the couple of months we have spent parked at our friends full hookup in their yard. We hope everyone is OK! If any of you are reading this, let us know.

In South Carolina we have our friends Dee and Beach who live just outside Charleston and are planning on riding out whatever is left of the storm by the time it hits them. Their RV is standing by in case they have to find higher ground. Also in Charleston are Sean and Louise (Our Odyssey Blog) who are trapped in Charleston Harbour in their 60 foot trawler "Vector". They are carefully watching Irma's path and will either stay put or head up the Cooper River depending on forecasts.

So, we have a vested interest in this storm and are glued to the TV watching it's progress. It does not look good!

[Image of probabilities of 34-kt winds]

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Early Morning Solar Musings

So I was laying in bed yesterday morning watching the sun come up and thinking how nice it was to have solar panels charging the motorhome batteries. And then I thought, "Wait a minute, it is plugged into the 30 amp outlet on the workshop. Does that mean the solar charging is bypassed by the 110 volt converter? Am I getting any benefit at all from the solar while I am plugged into shore power?".

I didn't know. So I went onto the Facebook RV Solar page and asked the experts and as usual, the answer is "It depends". It depends on how good a solar controller I have - mine is a lower end Pulse Width Modulated model and if it is programmable - no it is not. The consensus from the experts was that I was getting very little (if any) charging from the panels while I was plugged in. Well, that's not why I invested several hundred dollars into the 325 watt system of three panels, four batteries and a controller.

I was advised to turn off the breaker powering the converter. This would turn the charging duties over to the solar converter while still leaving the rig plugged in and the wall outlets powered. The best of both worlds.

I opened up the breaker panel and there it was, breaker #2 clearly labeled, "Converter". I turned it off and watched my battery voltage drop from 13.7 volts to 13.6 as the solar accepted the load. A few minutes it was at 13.8! It was working even in the overcast condition we then had. Now I just have to monitor the voltage to make sure it keeps up.

Thursday morning EDIT: This morning under a bright sky it was equalizing at 14.8 volts! I am a happy camper!!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

45 Years Ago Today

It was 45 years ago today (in 1972) that the New Democratic Party, led by Dave Barrett, first swept into power in BC. "The Socialists Are At The Gates" was the cry from the right. Dave responded by cracking a joke and wearing a button saying, "I wear red shorts".

That was the day I decided I would never be left standing on the sidelines of BC politics again. We worked in some capacity on every election since then for the NDP, Federal and Provincial. My favorite gig was Official Agent, handling the campaign finances, Norma's thing was Campaign Manager. We have only gotten out of it since we retired because we are out of the country so much. It was quite a ride and I do miss it. We have many friends from those days, Dave and Shirley Barrett among them.

Definition Of An "Asshat"

Trump appears in Houston to supposedly reassure hurricane victims but really is using the occasion to sell his stupid $40 hats that are conveniently available from the Trump/Pence website. He had many other choices, like maybe a Red Cross hat? Like my Blogging friend Margaret of Margaret and Helen's Blog says, "I would pay $45 just to shove it up his ass". And don't get me started on Melania's FM pumps she wore in the storm! You wanted a businessman for President? Well, suck it up. That's exactly what you got. These people are completely out of touch.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fridge Fan

A couple of weeks ago I checked the condition of the RV fridge vent fan that helps keep the fridge cooler by moving hot air from the rear of the fridge up the vent. I discovered that it was not working. I ordered a new one from Ebay for a whole $2 shipping included and installed it today.

It has some cool blue LED lights that will show through the outside door. I will take photos after dark.

This is looking up the vent at the fan with it's blue LEDs

I found a convenient place on the back of the fridge to pick up battery and ground

Then I mounted this tiny switch so I can turn it on and off

Two or three dollars worth of parts and an hour or so and it is done.

These are cheap fans, intended for use in desktop computer cases, and wear out quickly in outside weather. I get between one and three years out of them but they are easy to replace. I also use one to replace the very noisy bathroom vent fan where the blue LEDs provide a nice night light.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Why I Am Supporting Charlie Angus For NDP Leadership

I'm with Charlie because he is a gutsy fighter for NDP values and the needs of the millions of Canadian women and men who are not, and will never be, in "the 1%" or even "the 10%".
He has a track record of "doing" not just talking - that's meant effective action for First Nations, for working class needs, for the environment, and for social justice.
Leadership is more than just planning tactics and organizing. Now, more than ever, our party and our country need a leader who is tough, principled and lives our values. That's Charlie Angus and I know that with Charlie as leader we will be back in the thick of it.
Charlie has the vision and the plan to grow our party and to bring us success. And he has the experience to turn NDP values into government policy. He's our best hope to become the next Prime Minister. 

Charlie and I share a concern for Canada's treatment of it's indigenous people, especially children and I know he will be a strong advocate for these marginalized people.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Norma's roses just love the sprinkle of rain we got yesterday!

And going back a couple of days, here is the Camera Obscura (pinhole camera) I made out of a cereal box to view the eclipse. It worked great, we would have seen nothing without it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Where I Worked Map

I had a lot of fun working (35 years total) for Canadian Telephones and Supplies (a BC Tel subsidiary) and later for BC Tel. As you can see on the map, I got around, even to Alberta where I was on loan to Alberta Government Telephones for a few months. I had some great jobs and never really had a boss as I never worked in one spot for long. My periodic evaluations called me a "Self Starter" and they just sort of let me figure out what needed to be done and let me do it. I had it made. They paid me to have fun and to work with some really great people.

I did everything from the boring (installing an Ericsson Crossbar switch in Edmonton) to hanging off the side of a helicopter refueling a VHF radio site on the BC coast to digging a SnoCat out of the side of a mountain in the middle of the night (more than once). Probably the most interesting was watching the first data (ones and zeros) being received after working to install the first Earth Station on Vancouver Island for Telsat Canada back in the early 70's. The most satisfying was the work I did as a representative for the Telecommunications Workers Union and as an instructor for the Canadian Labour Congress giving workers the tools to make things better for their members. Oh yes, and working full time on many elections for the New Democratic Party.

Here is the map. Some places were too small to find on the map but this gives you an idea.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cooling Down

It is cooling down in BC! I hope it is just temporary but I just barely managed to stay on the porch late enough to watch the end of the Blue Jars game this afternoon (they won!), I also see there was snow on the highway near 100 Mile House in central BC. Come on, give us a break! Snow? It's August!

I also saw a poll showing Trump still enjoys the support of 76% of Republican Voters. Tell me again that Republicans are not racists (at least the vast majority of them). His approval rating among all voters is at 45%. A Facebook reader sent me another poll that confirmed the 76% figure but gave him only 35% among all voters.

We have to remember that Trump was elected with the votes of only 31% of eligible voters  (62 million out of 200 million). By pretty well all polls, he is holding at least that number (35% by my reader's poll, 45% by mine). He just has to get them to the polls and apathetic voters will put him in again. Lets hope he gets impeached or resigns before my theory is put to the test.

Winter Expenses 2016 - 2017

I just noticed I never posted our expenses for the winter of 2016-17. I know many people are interested in this so here it is.

It cost us about $1000 more this year due to increased costs everywhere and a higher rate for our Travel Medical Insurance. "Entertainment" includes gambling and I am happy to report Norma actually made a profit of $20 even after paying for my failed slot machine efforts.

These figures are for just under six months. They do not include RV and car repairs or personal shopping. Also please remember some of these expenses (Fuel Honda, Groceries, Dining out) would have occurred even if we stayed at  home. Our groceries tend to be a lot higher when we travel because of the type of eating we do and the fact that we entertain a lot more often. Bottom line was just under $100 Canadian per day. Speaking of which, the exchange rate was not kind to us.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thinking, Maybe Too Much

I was talking to Norma over coffee this morning and told her I was having trouble getting into the travelling mood this year. She asked If I was having second thoughts and I said yes, I was.

We spent a few thousand on the porch, we are in need of a new roof on the rest of the house which is "sort of" scheduled for September and we are going on a trip to Ireland next July. Adding around $4000 for medical insurance for the winter plus all the gas and RV parks added to the equation is taking me a bit out of my financial comfort zone.

We could do it. We could take the money out of our savings but I don't really want to do that. It is a "Rainy Day" fund and it is not raining.

Norma says if I want to take a year off our winter travels this year it would be fine with her. I think Brooks and LindaLee want to fly back to Cabo San Lucas this winter for a couple of weeks and we could tag along with them to get some sunshine. Norma also says she would like to take a trip in BC before Fall.

Nothing is cast in stone, we are just thinking.

Plus there is this "Trump" thing going on and I hate supporting him in any way and keeping some of my money in my pocket would be one way to express my disgust with him and those who support him.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Yet Another New Router

Telus is coming out this morning to replace the router they just replaced with a "Fibre Ready" model. I don't know how close we are to getting fibre but this is a promising step.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Porch Improvements

I added a 750/1500 watt Infra Red heater. It will be on a thirty minute spring loaded countdown timer to keep power costs under control. 1.5 KWh @ $0.12 / KWh X 1/2 hour = nine cents per half hour. Manageable.

The other thing I added is simply self-indulgent! Morning news and afternoon Blue Jays games! This is the old TV from the bedroom of our first motorhome and has not been used in a decade. If it works out I may change it out for a larger flat screen and mount it up higher in the roof area. It is a work in progress.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Campbell River is under severe watering restrictions but Norma is still allowed to hand water her flowers. They are not doing as well as in previous years but not bad under the circumstances. Here is a lily bush (tree?) that she was particularly proud of this morning.

She has an alternate source of water. We have a 365 day a year stream on the back slope that we could easily use to fill buckets. It would be a little more work but her flowers will survive any drought. :)

Current restrictions:
Days permitted:
  • Even numbered address: Monday only
  • Odd numbered address: Thursday only
Times permitted:  5:00 a.m – 9:00 a.m and 7:00 p.m – 10:00 p.m
Watering gardens, trees, shrubs and community gardens by hand or spring-loaded type nozzles with automatic shut-off connected to hose is allowed at any time during the day in all stages of watering restrictions.

Friday, August 4, 2017

My Extension Ladder

I have very little use for an extension ladder. Maybe two or three times a year when I change the flag for a new one or have to adjust the satellite dish after a storm. Not often. I inherited Norma's dad's ladder several years ago and have been happy with it. It's not perfect. It won't extend because it is bent or something but I never have to extend it, nothing around here is that high. It has one bent step and one step missing. Well, not really "missing", it was just designed that way. There is a gap where the step should be. But I know it is missing and just remember, "the second step from the ground in missing". No problem.

Well, last year I had the lawn mowing guy, a former roofer, go up on the roof and install three vents. He did not like my ladder and it's missing and bent step (one of each) and made a fuss of it. "I won't climb that ladder again", he said. Fair enough.

Then Brooks and CJ came up to build the porch and CJ had to use the ladder to build the roof and he didn't like the ladder either. Same reason(s). One bent step and one missing step. But he used it anyway.

The lawn guys came by while the ladder was leaning against the house. "You still using that killer ladder?", he asked. As a matter of fact, yes I am.

He told me one of his customers had given him a new extension ladder and that he would bring it over for me. He would rather give it to me than see someone break something on the "Killer Ladder". Today he fulfilled his promise and brought the ladder over. Now I had two.

So I wrote a cardboard sign saying, "FREE LADDER" and put the ladder and the sign down at the end of the driveway on the highway. I knew it wouldn't last long and it didn't. Twenty minutes later a pickup stopped and made off with my ladder. I left no fine print about the minor defects.

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Through The Smoke!

This was the sun at about 6:30 this morning bravely trying to burn through the smoke from the forest fires!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Happy Birthday Norma!

Norma's Birthday Today!
75 today she swims and works in the garden. Goodness knows how good a shape she would be in if she had have actually taken care of herself! :Happy Birthday Norma! Photo later. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Skirting The Porch

I raided Brooks' burn pile when we were down there and scored about a hundred short (2 - 3 foot) ends of nice 1X4 fir. They weighted down the trunk a bit but I got them home and today I skirted the new porch with them. Hmm.. 20 feet times three per foot = 60 two foot pieces or 120 feet = 12 ten foot boards. Wow! Saved me a few dollars! Thanks Brooks, you are still my favorite son! Love that burn pile!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Not So Friendly Skies

When our friends Roly and Cristy flew from their home in Cuba to Victoria, BC they were anxious to try "First World" cuisine as soon as possible. To this end, they boarded their Air Canada flight on empty stomachs, knowing they could buy food on board. Well, they perused the menu, made their selections and ordered only to discover they could not be served!

Why? Because Air Canada accepts only credit cards for payment of food and drink, not lowly cash! And like most or all good Cubans, our friends do not have a credit card. Cuba being a "cash society" and all.

So here they were starving on a plane not scheduled to land for another nine hours! What to do? Well, they found a seatmate willing to pay for their food with his capitalist inspired credit card and they would reimburse him with their nice fresh Canadian cash! Problem solved and they had met the first helpful Canadian of their trip!

Roly and Cristy!

It was a short but quality visit but we did get to see our Cuban friends for a few hours! They have been on the Island for three weeks and have a couple more days in Victoria before catching the plane from Victoria to Calgary, to Toronto and then finally, Havana.

They are shell shocked by their first visit to a decadent first world country. Roly has been to Equator and Cristy, when she worked in the Cuban government went on a diplomatic visit to several Socialist / Communist European countries but this was their first time in the "West".

They had just spent a few days in Port Alberni and those people dropped them off here at about noon. Norma and Brooks prepared a series of snacks featuring our local shrimp and smoked Sockeye salmon which was well received!

We had to get them to the Brentwood Bay Ferry by 5:30 and LindaLee was working in the local pub so Brooks and I took them there to say goodbye. Roly and Cristy loved the friendly atmosphere and confessed it was their first visit to a Canadian pub! Their other friends did not take them to one.

Cristy was sporting a broken arm, the result of a fall at the beginning of their visit! A souvenir from Canada!

We dropped them off at the ferry, said our goodbye's and promised to see each other again. Here are some photos.

Important Discussions:

Cristy and Norma:

Cristy and Croft:

"We love this bar!"

Two Amigos:

Two Amigas:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Off To Meet Our Cuban Friends

We are off to Brooks and LindaLee's in Shawnigan Lake today to meet our Cuban friends Roly and Cristy who are visiting Vancouver Island. They have a full itinerary and will only be there for the one day (Sunday) but we are really happy to get the chance to  see them. I will have photos soon.

Here are Roly and Cristy in their home in Santa Marta, Cuba:

Brooks' Birthday Party at Roly and Cristy's house:

Friday, July 21, 2017


We are finally getting a little rain up here! Not much but hopefully enough to make the forests a little safer and remove the campfire and burning ban.

But the part that I like best is a chance to test the new roof, gutters, skylights and rain chain! After an hour or so I am ready to declare everything working as expected!

EDIT: A leak has appeared behind one spot on the gutter where it makes a 90 degree turn. The problem may be in the roofing or in the gutter. I called the gutter guy and he will drop around later today to have a look.

EDIT 2: Well, the gutter guy came and found the problem. It is a shingle problem that he fixed by shoving a piece of flashing up under the shingle. It should hold it until we get the rest of the roof done.

The Leak:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


The woman we hired to haul away the construction refuse is actually a professional gardener. Norma showed her around and arranged for her to come back today to do some trimming. I like her! She is not afraid to cut deep and she knows what she is doing. One particularly thorny tree that was taking over one of the patios is now almost completely gone and we got our patio back. Some other large bushes are no longer hanging over into the condo's yard next door and she has at least one truckload of trimmings ready to go and is nowhere near done yet! Lets see what she does with the roses that are growing up onto the roof!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Rain Chain Drain

We drilled about a hundred holes in two large planter buckets, sank them into the lawn and filled them with rocks from the beach. Hopefully they will drain into the sandy soil around them and handle all but the heaviest rainfalls. I anchored the rain chains to the bottom of the buckets so they will not blow around in the wind. Further modification "might" be required.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nothing to Do

Tinkering away. I used up some scraps of decking to replace the grungy old top of our old DIY cafe table in the garden. Then I went down and bought some more cedar boards and built a seating bench for the deck. It now has just about enough furniture.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rain Chain Test!

Rain Chain! No, it's not raining, I'm cheating.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Gutters and Rain Chain!

At about ten this morning the gutter truck pulled up the driveway. They installed the new facia board, modified and replaced the existing gutter that Brooks Randle and C.J. Howie took down to build the porch. They then manufactured the new gutters for the porch, tied everything together and added the rain chain brackets.
Norma and I drove downtown and bought four four and a half foot sections of rain chain for the 8 - 9 foot height of the gutters, came home and attached them. We made up for the lack of rain with the garden hose and tested them. They work exactly as we hoped!
The gutter work and brackets cost $505 and the Rain Chain, $245 for $750 total.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Night Shots


A Day of Rest?

A day of rest! I returned $250 worth of unused hardware and stuff to Home Depot and then I tried out my $29 Harbor Freight belt sander on the deck rails and got my money's worth out of it right there!
The gutter guy came, took some measurements and will order the rain chain brackets for the gutter. He will do the job in two weeks.
Norma called a woman who does dump runs so she is busy loading up the pile of old shingles and construction leftovers that I can't burn.
Now, what was I doing? Oh yes, resting! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Reveal!

Two full ten hour days for Brooks and CJ and we are almost done, We are short two posts and the facia boards. Unfortunately all building supply stores except Home Depot were closed for the Canada Day weekend and they did not have a few things.

CJ connects the lighting. Norma and Brooks' very late night Internet purchase a couple of weeks ago. The Budget Director had no say in that one. 

Two posts and facia missing. The stairs will eventually be covered with cedar as well.

Juneau the Husky likes it! A great place to eat dinner!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Busy Day!

Today Brooks and his roofer friend C.J. got the roof framed and boarded. C.J. stayed up there until after seven nailing down roofing paper as there is a 20% chance of rain tonight and we don't want a 3 AM wake up call with rain coming through the roof! Tomorrow will be another busy day.