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Jon and the kids on the "Iceberg" at Camp Muskoka

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Wednesday August 10th 2011
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 I'm feeling much, much better as time passes.  Rain was predicted for Muskoka this morning, and currently we are experiencing a thunderstorm and downpour.  I'm sitting on the veranda. The lightning is getting close enough that I've decided to unplug this computer until it passes.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *  

I had big plans for the day, but spent it doing the books.  It is 7 PM now and I'm still not done.

It has been a cool, rainy day with sunny spells and gusts of wind.  I've had a fire in the fireplace all day.

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Thursday August 11th 2011
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I'll finish up the books this morning and run into town.  This afternoon, I am invited to John Pat's for a visit and supper.

*   *   *   *   *   *   * 

The books took mor5e time than I thought and I think I have to find a quicker solution.  I spent about fifteen hours in total this session over several days.  That is ridiculous.  Some of the work was due to having updated QuickBooks and dealing with the aftermath, but most of the time was entering slips and reconciling accounts.

Today's reading  hive scale reading.  There are four beehives on this scale.Anyhow, I got pretty well caught up and then loaded Chris' boat in preparation for returning it to Alberta, then paddled over to John's.  We had a good visit and an excellent supper.

The scale gained 10 pounds over the past two days, meaning that each hive gained a little over a pound a day on average.  Could be one is doing double that, though and maybe one is losing weight.  They are not, all four, the same.  These are splits and some may have failed to thrive.

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Friday August 12th 2011
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I'll finish loading the boat this morning and start on other preparations for my return to Alberta.

*   *   *   *   *   *   * 

Well, I procrastinated all morning, doing things that seemed important and got to the point where I was about to start on  the boat when I decided to pick up my blood work results from the doctor, return some items and get drinking water at the town tap. 

At the hardware store, I looked at barbeques and decided they were too costly, but I have been meaning to get a new one since the old one has rusted out its burner again, and my brother-in-law is coming down with friends and planning to barbeque steaks.   This one was never very great in the first place (he won it in a golf tournament) and has been around for fifteen years or so. I had a few other things on  my list, so I drove to Bracebridge.

I intended to go to Wal-Mart, but  and happened to notice Zellers on the way in, so I stopped.  They had some excellent BBQ deals, but I went on to check Canadian Tire, Home Depot and Wal-Mart since I had to go to those stores anyhow. 

It turned out that the Zellers deals were best and I picked up a fancy  70,000 BTU barbeque with cast grills, a rotisserie, and a side burner for $199.  Since barbeques were on clearance, I was able to take the floor model which was already assembled, at no extra cost.  Putting these things together is a lot of work.  The unit is huge, but since I had the van with no back seat, it fit  -- barely -- on its side.

After I got back, I set it up , then found all the parts for the Crossbow, hooked up the trailer and brought it up to the cottage.  I still have to tie it down.  I see one trailer light is not working.

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Saturday August 13th 2011
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The Crossbow is on the trailer and ready to rideTwo days remain until Zippy and I leave for the West.  There are things to do and working on Cloud 9 is not one of them right now.

I had a fire in the fireplace all day.   At home, the scale has not changed much in the past two days.  I see a loss of two lbs which translates into a drop of 1/4 lb per hive per day.

Getting the Crossbow ready to travel took a while, as did cleaning out the Dodge in preparation for the trip, general tidying, and one-hour afternoon nap.  I was busy all day. 

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Sunday August 14th 2011
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Tomorrow, I begin the drive home.  There is lots to do before then: cleaning, packing, organizing, tidying the boathouse, deciding what I want to take to Alberta, etc.

It seems to take forever to organize all my stuff.  There are so  many decisions as to what is needed where.  It seems that the time it takes to manage possessions increases exponentially with the number of items. 

That fact has been driven home to me this summer since I have I had two vans, three places and a boat where I live for periods of time,  and even simple things get difficult.  I found that I could never remember if my hat and sunglasses were in one -- or maybe it was the other -- van ...or  what clothes and tools I have left at one place or another.   The lesson here is to decide what is essential and get rid of the rest.  Less is more.  Whatever you own owns you.

*   *   *   *   *   *   * 

Well, I got it all done.  It's almost 9 PM, but all I have to do in the morning is pack my clothes and the food and leave. 

First, I dusted and vacuumed the cottage, then I tidied the boathouse, sorted through the tools and supplies and packed the van. 

While working tin the boathouse, I checked the engine to be sure I am not wasting my time. repairing the hull.

I realized some time after the boat sunk enough to cover the floorboards and I had seen water on the bottom of the oil dipstick, that there was a chance that the bottom end could have rusted.  I had pumped out the oil and water and cranked the engine, at that time,  but weeks have passed since then,.  The engine now is up where I can drain the pan completely from the bottom, so I drained it and tried cranking gain. The engine is out of the boat, allwing access to the inside of the transom.

The engine did not turn, so I tried a pry bar on the crank pulley.  It turned, but it was stiff.  Things looked bad, but I discovered that the starter pinion was sticking in the flywheel and when it dropped back, the engine turned easily and smoothly, considering normal resistance from the cam and valves

So I pulled off the starter and fiddled with it.  It had been submerged and showed a little bloom, but otherwise looked okay.  After looking it over an tightening the through-bolts, and reinstalling it, the engine cranked just fine.  By then I had added new oil, so I cranked the engine for several minutes to be sure that the good oil circulated throughout.  I also sprayed storage oil into the cylinders since it will be a while before the engine runs.  I think it will be fine.

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Monday August 15th 2011
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Today is the day.  I think I'll go as far as Sudbury today.  That plan allows time for washing clothes and visiting and also some slack in case there are issues with the boat trailer, which has not been on the road for 8 years. 

I hope to be out of here by 8 and in Sudbury around noon.  Three, or maybe four days from now, Zippy and I should be home in Alberta.

After a false start, and a return to leave a key and a trip to the hardware store for a turn signal bulb, I drove to Sudbury.

I arrived around 1:30 and did some errands, visited Harri, and organized my vans.

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Tuesday August 16th 2011
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I'm making final preparations, plan to drop by to see Linda, then will be headed west.

*   *   *   *   *   *   * 

I had lunch with Mom, then proceeded west.  I stopped at Piirtoniemis' for a quick coffee with Ken at 5 PM, then kept driving. until I arrived at Terrace Bay around dark. The motels at were  all full, but the next town, Schreiber, had plenty of space for low prices.  I stayed the night.

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Wednesday August 17th 2011
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By 6 AM, I was back on the road and made it as far as Indian Head by dark.  I planned to quit early and get a good rest, but after I checked into the only available motel, and looked around, Zippy and I decided we were not going to sleep well there.  She kept indicating we should leave and I felt about the same.  the locale was unappealing, being next to a cheap bar and a burned-down gas station, and the facility was pretty decrepit and make-shift.  It was clear that the owners had made some efforts -- the towels and bathroom were clean  -- but the bed was missing a top sheet and the room was very musty.  I decided to split, and we left. 

The next stop was Regina.  Since, by now, it was getting late, I took the first place that had ground-level access since I have the dog, and paid over twice what I paid at the previous stop, but got a good, clean, decent-smelling room.  It was an expensive night, but I figure that sometimes the smart thing is to spend the money, be comfortable, and have no regrets.

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Thursday August 18th 2011
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We were on our way again around seven and drove to Princess Auto, which was only a few blocks away.  My intent was to buy trailer wheel bearings, grease, and a spring for the boat trailer I was pulling.

The wheel bearings had been noisy ever since I left Muskoka, but were running cool.   I was hoping that they would last the trip, but I figured, that having spare parts for insurance was a good idea since noisy bearings will eventually fail. The trailer also has a broken spring and has ever since we got it.  That is non-critical and not dangerous, but is on my list of things to fix.   We arrived too early for Princess Auto, and went to Wal-Mart, where I got what I needed and we were on our way.  I picked up an antenna for my Sirius satellite radio too, since the one I used going east had come apart.  Radio Classics and the Book Channel also make the miles melt away.

I had intended to get a talking book from Audible for my phone or tab, but had not gotten around to it.  The cost seems high for one book and I can't see subscribing since each book can run up to 30 hours of listening.  I also found the sign-up process a bit opaque and wonder if there are alternatives.

Starting out, the projected time of arrival in Swalwell looked like about 3 PM.  As I drove, I took advantage of the unlimited cellular plan on Koodo to call a few friends and family.  Chatting as the mile pass makes the time go quickly on the straight, four-lane divided highways and the Bluetooth earpiece eliminates the strain and nuisance of holding a phone.

As we were passing Herbert, Saskatchewan, I noticed that the trailer was quieter and pulled off the travel lane to check the wheel bearings one more time.  I did not need to touch the hub to see that the bearing on one wheel had failed.  It was obvious, since the taper bearings had  fallen apart and the hub was running on the axle.  I though the worst and assumed the axle would be damaged, and limped into town.

I was wondering how long I would be in Herbert as I pulled up to the small Co-op gas station/store.  I stopped in front of the bay, just as the mechanic was going for coffee. He lent me a jack and I lifted the wheel and pulled the tire and rim off to exposť the hub, then removed the nut and pulled off the hub. Miraculously, the axles was unmarred. 

The mechanic returned and we pulled off the races, cleaned the parts, installed my new bearings, and put the wheel back on.  All in all, it took two hours and cost me $20. 

The experience reminded me what I loved about small town life and country people when I first moved to Alberta 40+ years ago.  All in all, this "disaster" was a good experience and brightened up an otherwise long, boring drive.  I arrived home at 5:30.  Zippy ran in and greeted Ellen, then returned to the van as I unpacked it and sat in her seat in the van for an hour before finally deciding we were staying.

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Friday August 19th 2011
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I'm home and have been catching up with things since 6 this morning.  I'm itching to get out to the bees, and have been waiting for 10 AM so it will be warm enough to work the bees.  Bees don't like to be bothered too early in the morning.  It is 10 now.

*   *   *   *   *   *   * 

I went out and got started.  The first hive I worked on had drawn the foundation in the third and has what may be swarm cells.  It is a bit late for swarming, so I left them.  The hives could swarm, but will more likely supersede, and that can be a good thing.   I worked through 20 hives and found 7 of them queenless.  That is not too good.

I had left entrance reducers on and it is interesting how the stronger colonies have chewed them near the opening while propolizing the cracks beneath them. The hives had three one-inch auger holes and are in EPS boxes, so should not have been too hot during that time.  I took them off anyhow.  I like the hives to be warm to do a good job of drawing foundation, and I noticed the strong hives had bees on all frames. 

I also noticed that the bees did a perfect job of drawing out the 5.4 mm foundation for the most part, but tended to build  variable-sized cells on the 5.0 mm foundation.

I also noticed how critical it is to get the frames spaced properly.  In one hive that had had some of the rock-hard "Randy's Kitchen Sink" supplement on the top bars under the super of foundation that the frames were a bit cockeyed and as a result there was some wild comb built in the wider spaces.

By the time I did 20 hives, I was quite tired, so I went in and had a nap that lasted about two hours.  before I did that, I went over to check my equipment stacks for swarms and saw the bees are robbing them quite freely through the auger holes that I lefty open for ventilation.  Maybe there are some swarms here, but I see the muddy tracking of robbing on the boxes and won't know until the robbing stops for the evening..

*   *   *   *   *   *   * 

After supper I continued checking the hives.  It seems that many, if not most of the splits that were given cells failed.  I wondered about them at the time.  I noticed that many emerged when I checked the cells a day or two after, but somehow, it seems they did not mate, or disappeared soon after.

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