Page March 2011
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Putting Pollen Patties on Hives at Round Lake NY
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It's raining here in Round Lake, and also in Sudbury, a fact I learned when I called Mom. We had hoped to look at some of Aaron's hives but conditions are not co-operating.
We went up to Saratoga Springs in the afternoon and watched "Unknown" in the theatre. It was a pretty good movie IMO. Of course it had the obligatory car chases with at least one streetcar involved, cars bursting into flames on impact, and the usual ridiculous fights, but the plot was novel. I would rate much higher than the critics have, but I am not as jaded from watching as they are.
I awoke at 8:30 and looked at the Tab. Overnight, Japan has experienced an earthquake and a tsunami, so the morning was spent watching TV. Tsunamis are of special interest to those of us who spend time on ocean-going boats or live on the coast. Katrina and Kalle go to school less than a kilometer from the Pacific Ocean, but are up on a high point above the Pacific coast, at El Morro School -- elevation 108 feet. I wonder if they are having the day off. Their home is high up the canyon at plus 424 feet.
I could be in Vancouver looking at a boat today, just in time for the tsunami warning, but chose to come east instead. From the charts on TV, it looks as if the west coast of Vancouver Island should get some wave action, but I doubt it will be very strong in Vancouver.
Aaron wanted to take a look at some of his bees, so we visited two yards. His losses are not as bad as mine, but look to be around 50%.
We stopped at the nearby church which had held the pancake supper. They had mentioned honey running down the walls. We noticed bees flying from the peak. Aaron said that there were bees there when he was a kid. I don't know what anyone can do about this mess. I guess things are OK inside the church. I hope.
I'm on the Maple Leaf, bound for Toronto, riding economy coach.
Well, I was, but gave up writing on the train for the time being and am catching up later, sitting upstairs in Sudbury.
Aaron drove me to the train in Albany by 9:30 and the Maple Leaf pulled out of the station on time at 10. I had looked forward to a bright sunny trip, but the day was overcast and with rain and dirty-looking melting snow, so everything looked drab and rundown. I was pretty tired too, since Aaron and I stayed up late BSing.
Northern New York has bright spots, but much of it is pretty run-down and depressed. There are beautiful old houses and there are shacks, and there are lots of abandoned industrial sites. I like the area and have spent quite a bit of time there over the years, driving through to Rhode Island, visiting Aaron, attending EAS, and of course, my two canal trips with Frank on sailboats across the Erie Canal.
The train follows the same course as the thruway and the rivers, so I found myself following a familiar course, within sight of the river and the highway much of the time.
Once in to Canada, I had Internet again, first on the Rocket Hub, then on my Tablet, but by then it was getting late and I was in no mood to write. I moved to business class for the last stage of the trip, for $1. No matter what class, rail travel is rough compared to road.
We arrived at Union Station in Toronto on time just after 7 PM, and I had two hours to kill before The Canadian left. Unlike Amtrak and airports, nothing was well explained and we found ourselves standing in the station in a line for a half-hour when there were seats nearby.
We boarded on time and at 10 PM sharp, headed north towards Washago, then across through Muskoka, passing about ten miles from Pine Hill, I'm guessing. I dozed on and off through the night. By now, my seat was sore from the ride. Sleeping in coach seats is less than comfortable, even though I was lucky and had two seats to myself.
Mom is 92 today.
We arrived at Sudbury Junction around 6:20 AM, an hour late, due to the change to Daylight Savings Time. None of the train crew seemed to have a clue about that. None even remembered that trains used to run on Standard Time, year round. I worked on the railway almost fifty years ago, and used to ride the Canadian and the Dominion to work, but none of the current crop recall that far back. It looks to me as if they are still running the exact same rolling stock as fifty years ago.
It took an eternity for cabs to show up but and hour and $25 later, I walked in Mom's door. She was up and having breakfast. I gave her a hug and went to bed. I slept until noon, then washed all my clothes. The trip was an experience, as I expected, but a bit hard on me. I haven't done a long rail trip since Jean was a year old, back in 1977. Would I do it again? Probably.
My van was in a snowdrift and the battery was just about flat. After lunch, I cleaned it off and charged the battery up. Fortunately, the battery does not seem to have frozen.
More spring-like weather is coming to Alberta and Ontario, too, it appears. Bill came by in the afternoon with a radio for me. We're hams and the VHF repeater is a handy way to stay in touch. He had to take his Mom to the clinic and left. In the evening, I went out to New Sudbury and spent some time in Canadian Tire.
I have noticed that my van tires are showing sidewall cracks and they are getting worse. The tread looks OK, though. I interviewed one of the tire guys and learned that tires are considered worn out at 3/32nds tread depth and start, typically at 10/32nds. He also said that at five years old, tires are now considered to be at the end of their service life, even on the shelf due to evaporat5ion of the compounds and hardening. Hmmm. I have had the van for five and a half years and the tires had sidewall cracks then.
He quoted me about $550 for a set of decent tires, installed and balanced, incl. HST.
I bought a tire gauge for $3.99 (plus HST) and started measuring in the parking lot, in the dark. I found some spots seemed close to the 3/32nds on one tire. I decided to look further in the daylight.
Mom and I visited Linda in the morning. After lunch I went shopping for tires. I found that $550 was typical everywhere. I had paid $550 or so for the Nokians in Alberta for Ellen's van, and that was after a 30% allowance for warranty. Bill suggested trying Costco, though, and I found a sale on there for Bridgestone tires that dropped the price, all-in to $455 for a quality tire, regularly sold at $108 each. I'll be there tomorrow at 9:45 AM to get them installed.
I drove over to Bill's and we had a 2-mile hike around his neighbourhood. We set up the Rocket Hub I'm giving him and I went home for supper. After supper, I lay down and slept for two hours.
It seems Mom is out pretty well every day lately playing bridge or visiting or doing various chores.
The weather is warming up and the ice on the sidewalks is melting. Alberta is warming, too, but I doubt run-off at home will be on March 17th as it used to be in the 90s. We've had several cold winters in the last decade and this is the coldest I can recall in recent years.
This is shocking news. I have thought about Eric and Marnie from time to time, but had not expected this.
I am now very closely approaching the exact age at which my father died of a heart attack, so I am getting to the point where my own end could come at any time and where friends and contemporaries are passing on. In contrast to my Dad, my Mom just turned 92, drives her car around town, and and lives in her own home. She leads an active life and shows no signs of quitting anytime soon. She has outlived her friends, then new, younger friends and attends a lot of funerals. That is not something I'm looking forward too. I'm not very fond of funerals and am considering skipping out my own.
* * * * *
Today is garbage day on North Shore Drive, and I have to run to Costco early to get the tires installed so I'll attend to that detail, too. The garbage is now divided into three bags: Compost, Recyclables, and Trash.
Since I am doing the tires, I am also wondering about the shocks. Since I bought the 2002 model of the same van at home, I have a comparison and this one seems to have more road noise from pavement cracks. The red van at home had new shocks all around some time before I bought it. It has 50,000 less km and is four years newer, but that should not account for the difference. Sudbury roads might, though, and so might the loads I have carried in this one, plus hauling that big boat. The difference could also be in the tires. I specified that I want tires that are less noisy, so will soon see.
I got the tires changed and while I was waiting, I spent some more money. In Costco, I found a 9" Android tablet for $198. It has an Android system and wifi so, I snapped one up to play with. It could be perfect for Mom. I also picked up another snorkeling set since I'm tired of lugging my other one back and forth.
* * * * *
I've been writing in the Honey Bee World Forum a bit lately as well as here. Check it out.
* * * * *
I have to tell you that it really hurts to see that faithful old car go to the boneyard. It served me well. It may have been the best car I ever had. I bought it just as we retired and that was about seven years ago.
Come to think of it, Eric and I retired about the same time, Eric first, then us, and we communicated quite a bit about whether and how to do it, and about the process of selling off assets. Ellen and I visited him on the Island a few times about then. I was out on Eric's boat the day before 9-11-2001 and flew home that night in time to see the Twin Towers go down the next morning as we extracted honey in what is now Elle's studio. Wow! That was ten years ago -- almost.
* * * * *
Bill and I did the same hike again today. I need to walk a few miles every day. I feel much better when I do.
Then, Mom and I went to Buzzy Brown's for prime rib.
Saint Patrick's Day
After supper last night, I ate a piece of chocolate-covered ginger. At one AM, I was still not asleep. I sometimes forget what keeps me awake and ginger is one of them.
* * * * *
Yesterday, I heard a grinding sound when I applied the brakes going down the Van Horne hill. The noise went away, but got me to thinking so I looked up a brake shop and drove out to Speedy around ten this morning for a "free" brake inspection. They said they could take it right away, and put it up on the hoist. I watched through the glass doors.
The rear drums were a job to get off, but when they did come off, it turned out that a spring had broken and fallen into the shoes. The shoes were almost new, so it was just a matter of replacing the spring, but one of the front pads was down to the metal and the rotors were worn, corroded, and under limit. There also proved to be suspension link that was worn and clunking a bit. Two hours and $332 later I drove away in better shape.
I checked the gas mileage so far and this 1998 3.8 is getting about 26 MPG (Imperial) on average compared to the 2002 3.3 I just bought that seems to be getting 20 MPG so far. Hmmm.
I met Mom for lunch at Gonga's then went to Bill's since it is nearby. Bill and I took a 1.7-mile walk around the neighbourhood after lunch, then I returned to North Shore and worked on catching up on my deskwork.
We visited Linda in the morning and in the afternoon, I went over to Bill's for another walk. I'm out of shape and walking two miles a day is good for me.
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