Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Green Ash

     I have a rather nice green ash in my front yard. It's about 12 or13 m high(40 ft) and about 40 to 50 cm (18 in.) diameter at the bottom. For Alberta it's not a bad specimen for green ash. There are lots in older areas where green ash would be larger. I know that in other areas of north America green ash can be huge. Specimens in Chicago would be 60 to 80 ft. high.

     Now there's been a large branch that I have been looking at and thinking that it should be trimmed so today was the day to do the trimming. The branch was about 4 or 5 m( 15 ft.) long and was parallel to the ground. Sooner or later it was going to part from the tree and I thought it may do damage to the tree.

    Taking the branch off went well when you have a light chain saw. I cut some pieces to stove length for my friend David. When I picked one of the pieces up I noticed a small red spider mite. Then I noticed that there were numerous red spider mites on the one piece of wood. Then I got thinking as to how many spider mites would be on the branch or for that matter how many red spider mites would be on the whole tree. The numbers would be astounding. So much life on one green ash.Now some people hate these little guys with a passion as they can do harm to plants.

     Later as I was picking up small pieces I saw a lime green caterpillar with pale orange pink on the back. This caterpillar was impressive as it was about 30 mm (1 1/2 in ) long and about as thick as my pinky. I've seen these before and have not paid much attention to them. I suppose I knocked this individual out of the tree when I took the branch off. Now I'm wondering what kind of butterfly will emerge from this caterpillar. I hope somebody can tell me. I'm also wondering if the caterpillar becomes a butterfly or lunch for some crow.

     So one green ash gave me a number of good topics to post on. My green ash looks better and I hope it remains healthy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

There's Much to Learn About Buying House Insurance

       My house insurance is due for mid September so I got my renewal notice recently.

       I have bought my house insurance from the same company for 41 years. I have dealt with three or four different agencies. I have never felt comfortable with the agency I've been with for the last twelve years. They are downright difficult to deal with. They won't let you talk to who you want to. So I decided to change agencies. I had phoned ahead and asked about changing. They assured me that they could make the necessary adjustment to my notice and that everything would be OK as long as they could do a house inspection.

     I got taken back to the corner office to see the guy who does house inspections because I didn't want a house inspection on general principles that it was an invasion of privacy. I had done my homework on the house inspection. Everyone from the privacy commissioner to the local police superintendent thought that a home inspection for house insurance was over the top. So the guy in the back corner said let's see what I can do for you before I do an inspection . So he started from square one to make up my policy and of course came up with a much higher quote  than I had before. He further said that this might change after the home inspection.

     So I went home and started researching. I found his new quote to be in the ball park with other quotes. What I found was that other quotes were willing to stand by their quote without a home inspection. My company is the only one doing home inspections. Now the reason he upped my policy was because he upped the value of my house. I did not like his evaluation and then started trying to find out if I had to go with his evaluation or could I get a lower evaluation. So I find that some agents will let you have a lower valuation for your house and others will not. You have to take their evaluation or nothing 

     I was also appalled that he would not stand by my original quote from his company.

    Since I have been with the same company for many years I was not aware of the nitty gritty of the industry. I have learned some lessons. I will have to ask more questions. So be sure to ask if you have to take their evaluation or can you set your own evaluation. I know that this evaluation is replacement cost. I am willing to gamble on replacement cost a bit. I could afford to add to the replacement of my house.

    So I'm off to look for another agent. My time with this agency was very brief. I suppose they helped me learn about insurance by trying to sell me more insurance than I wanted.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Web Cam in Beaver Lodge

      The Ellis Bird Farm has recently put a web cam in a beaver lodge on their property. The web cam operated for a short time and the Ellis Bird Farm was able to make a number of videos of activities in the lodge.

photo by Judy Boyd

     I have put a link on my blog which will take you directly to the site where you can look at the videos. I hope you find these videos interesting.
photo by Judy Boyd

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Hate to be the First to use the F word This Fall

       I hate to be the first one to bring up the topic of fall. I'm not trying to lead the pack or pick up a first. It's just that there are certain observations that have come to my attention and I can't deny that fall is on it's way.

The mountain ash on the left has definitely started to turn color

       For the last ten days I have noticed a general fading of the brilliant summer green. Greens are starting to be just a little washed out. The odd tree is obviously showing full yellow fall colors. It doesn't help any that we had lows of plus three a couple of mornings last week. In the odd low or exposed area I'm sure that there was frost.

This tree has had a touch of frost. The top leaves are more white than yellow. By the way I don't know what this tree is called.

      So here it is Aug. 22, and I've begun talking about fall. Usually at this time of year, some of the early grain crops have ripened . On dryer years harvesting of early grain crops has begun. Not this year. Farmers were late in seeding and there has been abundant moisture.

This little poplar has definitely had it with summer.

     So from a purely selfish point of view, I would like to suggest that we do not call Sept 21, the equinox , the first day of fall. The equinox should be the middle of fall. Now I know that in more southern areas this would not make any sense. Well, we could modify this idea according to latitude. Higher latitudes could have an earlier fall season and lower latitudes could have a later fall season. While I'm at it let's carry it on with winter, summer and spring. The mid point of our seasons seems to be more at the equinoxes and the solstices than the beginning of the season .

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Cookie Monster Visits Again

        A few posts ago I told you how I had been fooled on my statcounter when my IP number was not blocked. I thought some very wonderful person was reading my blog. After about three weeks I accidentally discovered the person visiting so much was me. I thought I blocked my cookie, but yesterday I was caught reading my own blog again.

         When I was in Chicago I used my daughter's computer to check my email and blog and a few other things. My IP number must have been changed because of that because the nice reader of my blog started right after I got home.
         So I hope this time I have blocked my cookie for good. On Statcounter you have to click on the wrench. You are given a menu and you click on IP numbers. When you get there you will see a space where you can block cookies. You either type your number in a box or your number is there and you click on your IP number and it's zapped. Well. it's zapped until I mysteriously get a new IP number.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Survived the all Nighter

         On my last post I asked for some advice on how to stay awake all night. I had to stay awake all night because I was having a test the next day which required me to not sleep the whole night. I had a number of people who freely offered me some humorous advice on the blog and Face  Book. Thanks for the fun. Others expressed concern for my well being. Thanks for your caring. 

          Well, I did survive the night without falling asleep or screaming or committing some form of mayhem. Until 2 or 3 AM the time passed very quickly as I wasn't that tired and I had lots of things to do. I had three crossword puzzles and a couple other puzzles. I also had things to do on the computer and I played a few games. From 3 to 6 AM the time dragged and I had less to do. I made some toast about 4 AM which helped. From 6 to 7 AM was the very worst. I had to fight every minute to stay awake and had nothing to do. Once my wife got up and we had breakfast it was better as I had something to do.

         I got to the hospital early and it was a challenge to stay sane so I walked the halls a bit. The technician was great. She kept up a humorous chatter as she directed me through the test. I should have brought my camera. They put a hat on you that reminds me of a 1920's bathing cap. There are holes in the cap so that they can put the electrodes in the same place. They squirt some foul goop in each hole which makes electrical conductivity better. They scratch your scalp in eah hole...not pleasant.

        First, they have you open and close your eyes while shining a bright light in your eyes. Then, for three minutes you have to pretend that you're blowing up a balloon. They really make you work at this one as they want to create stress. After that they said I could just lie there and go to sleep if I wanted to. It wasn't a case of wanting to go to sleep. I just conked out and when the test was done they woke me up.

      I got home and to bed about 10:30 and the phone rang at 11:00 so that was my sleep. After lunch I did get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep. So I feel human again.

      When I think back to times when I did overnights for fun I have to give my head a shake. Fun? But that was in another age and maybe I was in much better shape than I am now.

     They have an expert read the test and report to my specialist and my specialist will inform me of the result. An optimist like me never ever thinks that there might be bad news. In all other tests they haven't found anything so I don't think this test will be any different. If it is I'll let you know.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

How Can I stay Awake All Night?

       Now in my past I have done all nighters. I've worked a few nights, but you can usually sleep in the daytime. I've partied a few all nighters. These all nighters were done when I was much younger. In retirement I have volunteered to supervise in from the cold for the night shift. If you have something to do, staying up all night is not too much of a challenge.

        What's my worry now? An EEG test has been ordered where I am to be tested when I haven't slept for 24 hours. The test is at 9:00AM Monday. Now I know part of this will not be a problem. I will have things I can do to keep me going. I'm limited on the reading because I tend to get drowsy when I read. There's no coffee after midnight. I find coffee just makes me feel miserable and jittery. I might go for a walk some time after midnight. But after that it's going to have to be will power. Four AM to six Am will be a struggle. Breakfast might be eaten very early. To complicate matters I want to stay up tonight and watch the meteor shower.

       Oh well, I'll get through it somehow. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Was Fooled for a While

       Now first of all, I'm not half as smart as I think I am. Secondly , I've been fooled before.

       As a blogger I have a counter on my blog which gives me all kinds of information. At the end of July I noticed a reader who visited Hiawatha House a dozen or more times a day. I was pleased as it boosted my numbers. It appeared that this reader was steadily reading my whole blog. A reader who will find you and proceed to read your whole blog is valued. Everyday the visitor appeared a dozen or more times .

      Two nights ago the bubble burst. I found out the nice reader was me! I don't like to count myself when I write or read other blogs. I had blocked my cookie before so that my visits to the blog were not counted by the counter. How my cookie became unblocked I don't know.

      It was quiet flattering to have a reader who makes quite a few visits. However, I was fooled as I did not recognize my IP number or suspect the visitor was me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Visit with the Neurologist.

       Today was my appointment to visit the neurologist at the local Heart and Stroke Center.

        June 19th an incident occurred which sent me to the local emergency department. I was not making any new memories(amnesia) and was rather confused and frustrated. I had just sold an old outboard motor and came in the house with the money and a plan to take the item off Kijiji. Some time later I found myself at the computer and wondering why I was there. I had probably been there about 20 minutes and became frustrated by not being able to complete a task as I had not remembered what I was there for in the first place. So off to the emergency we went where I was immediately given a cat scan and no blockage was found. Other tests were done and I was observed for about three hours. I was released and sent home. However, I was referred to the heart and stroke clinic. So that's why my visit today.

      Backing up three years ago I had another incident where the amnesia lasted about 2 hours. I received the same investigation then. They could not find anything amiss and could not explain why I had the amnesia.

     So today they are still at a loss for any explanation. I am not worried about these incidents. I'm told it's unlikely to happen again. So life goes on. I will continue to maintain a strenuous regime of keeping fit and enjoying an active outdoor life style.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Red Visits the Raspberry Patch

      Each year we find a upick farm that has raspberries and we pick enough raspberries for the year. Today was the day to pick raspberries. This year our only choice was the Jungle Farm.

     We arrived about 10:00 AM and picked until close to 2:00 PM. We wanted about 10 pounds but ended up with 15 pounds which was quite allright. This patch was extremely large as raspberry patches go and there were  lots of good berries. The patch had received hail about a week ago so many of the berries were bruised but there were still lots of good berries to choose from. This patch has not been well maintained so there was tall grass and weeds in with the raspberry canes.

      We freeze most of the raspberries and pull them out all year when we want them. Now most of the time we just put a little sugar on them and eat them. At one time the cook did other things with the berries but this cook is getting tired.

      My wife loves picking raspberries and any other fruit. She  picked  blueberries with the Inuit where the plants are about 6 in. high. It's the one thing she liked to do with my Dad as my Dad was just nuts about berry picking. He would get his neighbors together and lead them on whole day  of picking Saskatoons. He would move from patch to patch as he was always looking for something better. At the end of the day he had ten gallons of Saskatoons. My Dad fished the same way. He was always looking for a place with more fish.

     I'm not a berry picker. I'm not even that fond of raspberries but I do go out and pick what we need for each year.  So today I did my duty and spent my three hours in the raspberry patch and will enjoy raspberries this year. 

Four little guys out picking strawberries with their mothers.