Tree Felling At The Rideau Camp

What a beautiful weekend we had. Saturday and Sunday were bright and sunny and warm.

On Friday evening we packed Tank and headed out to the Rideau Camp. Packing is now done from a list, and a running list is kept at both ends of our journey, one for items to take to the Camp, and one for items to bring back to Mist Cottage. Slowly Grace The Trailer is being outfitted so that few items besides clean clothing, food, and beverages will need to be brought with us. The evening at the Camp was spent organizing the items that had been packed.

Although the temperature was cool Friday overnight, we were warm enough and slept well and comfortably. I awoke at dawn, just before the birds, and could hear the light rain that ended just as the birds began to call. By the time Attila awoke, and we breakfasted, the sky was blue and the sun was peeking over the ridge in the bush, filtering and sparkling through the raindrop laden leaves.

Last weekend the lot preparations for placing Grace The Trailer began. Attila needed to fell eight 45 foot tall trees to clear the area where she will be placed. It was a project that took two days, and even so there are still branches and logs left to stack. Attila worked very hard all weekend.

Usually I start a camp fire first thing in the morning, to burn brush. However, I was on a mission Saturday morning, visiting the local building supply store in search of patio stones. I was in luck, they were on sale! I purchased eight, two by two foot patio stones. The fellow loaded the in to Tank for me, and I secured them with two ratchet straps. Attila unloaded them at the Rideau Camp, placing four of them on the prepared bed in Winnie the outhouse, to give us a clean floor for our compost toilet setup. The other four were placed at the foot of the entrance to Grace The Trailer, saving us from having to remove our work boots on the crushed stone, which is quite sharp and hard on a stockinged foot.

After changing back into my work clothing, I noticed a huge number of tent caterpillars climbing our trees, headed for their dinner, the leaves. Not able to reach most of them with a spray bottle, I opted for a long stick, to reach up and crush them against the bark of the trees. In addition, an extremely long stick was used to destroy the caterpillars up to 20 feet high on the trunks of trees. Little did I know when I began with a few patches of these pests, that I would spend the entire two day weekend killing tent caterpillars, stumbling through the bush, sticks raised above my head and brought into contact with the tree trunks strategically. What a job! Even as we left the Camp on Sunday afternoon, we stopped Tank on the driveway to destroy a few hundred caterpillars on a tree I had missed over the weekend.

All of Sunday evening, Sunday night, and Monday, if I closed my eyes, I saw tent caterpillars!

The weather was perfect throughout the visit. Saturday afternoon I did start a camp fire, managing to burn a few dead trees that I had pulled down and dragged out of the bush while killing caterpillars, and parts of a tree stump and roots from a long ago uprooted tree. Attila felled all of the trees safely, and they all came down where he wanted them to, well away from Grace The Trailer. He did a great job. We sat around the camp fire as evening fell, waiting for the stars, which came in faint as the sky was bright late into the evening. To our surprise we saw the silhouettes of a few bats flying high above us. Bats are a welcome sight, they eat a lot of mosquitoes! We were very tired from our efforts of the day, so we went to bed early.

Sometime during the night I heard three loud beeps. I got out of bed, turned on the lantern, and went to investigate. It was our refrigerator, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with just the lantern, so I turned it off. In the morning we surmised that the battery that runs the LED control panel had died. We also discovered that one of our two propane tanks was empty. We brought the empty propane tank home with us on Sunday, and took it to be refilled on Monday evening, to discover that it expired in 2001! The tanks that came with Grace The Trailer cannot be filled. Since the people we bought it from used it to tour the US, they probably had not tried to fill the propane tanks in Canada, where they are more tightly regulated. We will need to purchase new propane tanks.

Sunday Attila cut the branches from the felled trees, stacked the branches, sectioned the trunks and stacked most of them. I continued to destroy tent caterpillars. The day was very, very windy, so that often tent caterpillars would fall from the branches on to me, it was their unlucky day. It was too windy to contemplate a campfire.

Our cleared area at the Camp has expanded, letting in more sunshine, allowing more air movement. We now have a big sunny area to enjoy, and so do the dragonflies. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes. I love dragonflies. To be honest, the mosquitoes have not been too bad so far this year at the Camp. They were much worse last spring, which is surprising because this spring has been so wet.

We discovered that someone had cut down one of our trees along the road, a beautiful cedar tree, to gain access to our property for their ATVs. We really need to get the No Trespassing signs up! Cutting down a tree on private property is really going over the top in my opinion, we suspect someone local. The felled trunks were laid carefully to provide a “track” over a wet spot, so it was a very deliberate action. Also, while we were working on Sunday, a young male on a golf cart came merrily up the driveway to explore. When he saw Attila he apologized, turned around, and left. We really, really need to get the No Trespassing signs up! I doubt any of the young males will return on their vehicles, but the tree felling was done with a chain saw, and is not the work of young adventurous males, an adult had to be involved with that intrusion. If we see any more such activity by adults, we will contact the authorities. Sometimes it is not much of a stretch to think of people as animals.

We arrived home Sunday evening tired, and happy with our progress over the weekend!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Tuesday 13 June 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 21.0°C
Dew point: 18.6°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: N 6 km/h
Humidex: 27
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“If you cannot convince them, confuse them.”
Harry S Truman
1884 – 1972

Perhaps the one who shall not be named has taken advice from a page of the Democratic Party book.

Canada Day Weekend

Our Canada Day long weekend was peaceful and rejuvenating. For us, a weekend spent in each other’s company, tucked away from the rest the of the world, watching the birds, the insects, the clouds floating in the sky, and the trees swaying in the breeze, is a perfect way to celebrate that we live in Canada.

On Friday evening Attila hooked Tank up with Iris the Trailer and we headed for the Rideau Camp. It is a lovely drive to the camp, we take back roads that are not heavily travelled, due to the low speed limit. Since we are in no particular hurry the low speed limits suit us just fine.

After we arrived Attila took some time to position the trailer, and it was odd that the battery light in Tank came on during this process, so Attila turned off the interior lights, so that as we were in and out of Tank over the weekend they would not turn on automatically each time the door opened.

We set up the trailer, and a kitchen canopy that we bought almost two decades ago for a camping trip when Terra was a teenager. We seldom get rid of things if they have a practical use. It took us a very long time to need the kitchen tent again. It is in pristine condition, set up very easily, and was placed over the picnic table. It smelled a bit mildewy when Attila set it up, but a day in the strong sun cured that, so that by the end of the weekend the smell had completely disappeared.

The Rideau Camp, all set up for the weekend. Attila’s strimmer does a wonderful job of keeping the weeds short, it almost looks like a lawn! Most of the greenery is white clover, which I planted in the early spring, just after we finished tearing out the hundreds of bramble plants. Attila and I still spend an hour or so on every visit, pulling out short bramble regrowth; eventually it will just give up and be gone, but not this year.
Rideau iris

On Friday afternoon the clouds rolled in, big black clouds, and thunder could be heard in the distance. Eventually the thunder passed us to the north, but the rain poured down. Luckily the kitchen tent protected our kitchen gear, and us, for the duration of the downpour, which didn’t last long. The sun came out again, only to be followed a few ours later by another big black cloud, which poured rain down on us a second time. It still wasn’t enough rain though, to refresh the dry forest. The rest of the weekend was sunny and warm.

On Saturday morning Attila and I went for a walk down to our shared waterfront. It was a disappointing experience. The water level was low, and the wind had washed quite a bit of organic material onto the shoreline, which was rotting and emitted a mildly unpleasant odour. The lake bottom was shallow and there were lots of plants growing, obscuring the sandy bottom. Although this isn’t wonderful for human recreation, it is wonderful for fish, and fish breeding. The dock had been repaired, and a new section added, which provided a nice place to sit at the waterfront. At some point we will take our chairs down to the lake to sit and watch the passing big boats that are travelling the Rideau Canal system. Whoever repaired the dock threw around four or five large plastic barrels, which littered the water and the shore. Obviously no one in particular is caring for this piece of real estate.

As we were walking back towards our camp from the waterfront, a couple with a medium sized black dog were out walking towards the waterfront.

As they approached us on the road the woman called out, “Don’t worry about the dog, he is friendly!”

Immediately the man called out, “Don’t worry I’ve got him on a leash.”

So we didn’t worry. As we drew nearer the dog began to growl, then began to lung and loudly bark at us. The man had tight control of the leash, and the dog was kept under control. In what universe would a dog like that be defined as friendly!

Attila and I chatted about the proliferation of dogs in the area, there seem to be a lot of barking, unfriendly dogs. Attila thinks it is because there are so many monster houses and expensive cottages near us, people keep guard dogs. There are some exceptions though. We have met the neighbours on either side of our property, and their dogs are friendly, very friendly.

However, dogs that are in a pack are extremely dangerous, even the gentlest, most loving pets, as they will revert to predator pack behaviour immediately. I learned this when I was teaching at an outdoor centre and one of our students was attacked by a pack of pet dogs, who came close to killing her, had she not escaped serious injury by climbing a tree. The dogs were all beloved pets, running loose and free in “God’s Country”, as the city people called it. I love dogs, but at the same time I respect who they are.

Our Rideau Camp is surrounded by monster houses (country estates) and waterfront cottages. The people we purchased it from intended to build a large country estate on the property. The couple in the expensive SUV that drove in one weekend to inquire about buying the property intended to build a country estate. The people who had an accepted offer on the property just before we bought it, had lost the deal because they couldn’t get financing to build a large country estate. Other former owners included: a fellow who flew in by float plane from the USA to stay in a “tin shack” on the land during his stay, we have found no evidence of a tin shack; owners who intended to build a cedar stack wall home; owners who installed a well; and owners who built the driveway. We suspect that the property was originally settled as part of a farm, and used as a pasture.

We know about the cedar stack wall home because the cedar logs were stacked on skids, then bulldozed into a huge pile on the property, probably when the driveway was put in. According to one long time resident in the area, nearby neighbours have been helping themselves to the logs for years and years, to use as firewood. We are finding logs embedded in piles of roots and earth, shoved aside when the driveway was built, or so we think. The logs are old, some rotted quite away. Yet when Attila removed some from the huge pile, and split them, we found that beneath a one inch layer of weathered wood lies sound, fresh looking cedar. What a terrible waste!

A front end loader pushed over dozens of smaller trees, and stacked them on the top of the huge pile of cedar logs. Attila spent our long weekend pulling down the dead trees, sectioning them, and piling them near the fire pit. I spent the long weekend burning the wood that Attila piled for me.

Before: The cedar log pile with the dead trees piled high on top. There is a sea of brambles in front of it, which is now white clover.
DSCF8022
After: The cedar log pile with the dead trees removed and burned. The pile is still taller than Attila, but not quite as intimidating as it was.
Rideau cedar log pile july

I have decided to see if I can figure out any practical used for the sound cedar logs, it seems such a shame to burn them. But it is unlikely I will discover any good use for them, and it is most likely that I will spend the rest of the summer burning them.

We were able to spend a fair amount of time just sitting in the shade, watching the clouds roll by, and the trees swaying in the wind. We observed a Hawk, a Blue Heron, a Scarlet Tanager, an unidentified tiny bird that flew like a small rocket across the clearing, several Crows, a Robin, and a Blue Jay. We heard Pileated Woodpeckers in the forest, and a Loon on the lake. I thought perhaps it was a bird that sounded like a Loon that we heard, but I have been unable to discover any birds that sound like Loons.

On our walk we observed many wild plants. Wild Daisies, Chicory, Red Clover, Mullein, Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Purple Vetch, various grasses, and many plants that I cannot identify.

Comfrey growing by the side of the road, it has many medicinal uses.
Rideau Comfrey
We were amazed at the masses of wild daisies growing along the sides of the road, so very pretty.
Rideau daisy
I am suspicious that the plants with three leaves in the right of the photo are Poison Oak. I haven’t seen Poison Oak before, so I am not sure, but better safe than sorry.
Rideau poison oak

We had a wonderful weekend that was over all too soon. On Sunday morning, after a pancake and pineapple breakfast, we began to pack our gear to return home. Just after lunch Attila hooked Tank to Iris and off we went.

The weather was lovely, sunny with cotton candy clouds floating across the sky. The drive home might have been more enjoyable though, had it not been for the battery warning light, and the falling battery gauge. At first the gauge maintained its position, but when were about 40 km from home it began to fall. By the time we were entering our home town it had fallen drastically and all the warning lights on the dashboard had lit up. It was a tense drive through downtown, and finally, just as we turned off the main road into our neighbourhood, the engine began to falter. We chugged along the road, ever more slowly, until finally we turned the corner of our own street, at which point the engine died completely. We coasted down the street, coming to a stop just in front of our house.

As Tank came to standstill, Attila and I looked at each other and broke into riotous laughter. What are the odds of Tank making it all the way home and dying at just the right point so that we could coast to our own front door!

It was one lucky weekend!

This morning I called the garage, and Tank is in there now for repair. We think it is the alternator, but won’t know for sure until we hear from the mechanic. They kindly drove me home for the day, and we will pick up Tank tomorrow, when Attila after gets home from work.

So today started out busy, then it played out very quietly. They drove me home, it isn’t far. I have busied myself with laundry, sorting through the camping gear, paying bills and figuring out where to get the money to pay for Tank’s repair bill. It is all working out, with a little effort.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

27°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 4 July 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 21.3°C
Dewpoint: 17.4°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: S 19 km/h
Humidex: 29

Quote

“Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882

Aging seems significantly different to me now than it did before I was middle aged. Until that first pinch of agism entered my universe, I thought very little about aging, and perceived it as feeling similar to youth, and just appearing outwardly more worn. In reality, looking different is the least of possible disadvantages of getting older. Since middle age I have known being older is not at all like being young, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Age added much more than it took away. It made me invisible, but only to the superficial and the shallow. It took some of my health, but gave me respect for my body as the vessel of my journey. It took away loved ones, which taught me to value every minute spent with those who remain. I like being old, and I hope to do it for a very long time.

Tank’s Battery Madness

I was really looking forward to attending my Yoga class this morning.

The universe had other plans for me.

After breakfast I dressed carefully, checked my gear to make sure I had my slippers and the $3 fee, finally bundled myself up in parka, scarf and gloves, and headed out to Tank. And that is where my journey ended. Tank did not start. Tank’s engine did not even turn over. There was just a staccato clicking when I turned the key.

If I recollect correctly, last time Tank and I were out and about it was to the Yoga class last Wednesday. The temperature fell to -23C (-9.4F) last night, and it has been very cold all week. These factors ganged up on Tank’s battery, causing it to fail.

But I didn’t know at the time that it was the battery. What I knew was that I was going nowhere, and Tank was making horrid noises. What to do?!

First I called the dealership where we bought Tank. I described what was happening to the fellow, and he immediately said it sounded like the battery. I had a starting point!

Then I called CAA. We have a membership. The woman on the line said that I could either get a boost, or order a battery that they would bring to the house and install for me. Since I didn’t know beyond all doubt that it was the battery, I decided not to schedule a visit.

Then I called Lares and left a message on his cell phone. The day passed slowly.

Then I messaged Terra. Terra called Lares and discovered that since I had called him using Skype, the displayed number on his cell looked like a telemarketer, so he didn’t listen to the message. Late in the afternoon Terra and Lares dropped by on their way to Costco, bringing their booster cables. Since tank was facing into the driveway, a single driveway, the cables would not reach from their vehicle to tank. They drove off, promising to check on me in the morning.

Then I called Attila, finally home from work, who also thought the problem was the battery. He works with a lot of vehicles in cold weather, so when he voiced the opinion that the battery needed to be replaced, I made the decision to call CAA and request the Battery Service.

Then I called CAA and requested the battery service. The woman was very pleasant, gave me a price, we discussed methods of payment, and she arranged for the new battery to be brought to the house and installed free of charge within the next hour. I was happy.

The CAA fellow drove up. His cables did reach around to the front of Tank. Tank started, and the fellow advised me to keep it running for at least thirty minutes. I told him I wanted the new battery even though Tank had started. He looked confused, and explained to me that the is no Battery Service in our area. I explained that that was what I had arranged with CAA. He said he was sorry, gave me several names of local places where I might purchase a battery, and off he went.

Then I called CAA. When I explained what happened the woman on the telephone apologized, several times. I thanked her for her concern, and then told her that I wanted more than an apology. I had arranged for a Battery Service call, and I didn’t get it. I wanted the call struck from my limit, a limit of four calls per year. She took my information and is passing it along to another department, and I should hear from them in the next five days.

So, the upshot is that Tank is running, but still needs a new, and thus reliable, battery.

Following the CAA fellow’s advice, I drove around town for more than half an hour, charging up the battery. By this time I was beginning to feel a bit weary.

It was after 8:00 p.m. by the time I backed Tank into the driveway. I hate backing up vehicles, as I find it difficult to twist around to see what I am doing, and difficult to find just the right head position so that my bifocals focus on the mirrors. I did it though, after a few false starts. If Tank does not start tomorrow, Lares booster cables will reach!

Finally I sat down to a late supper, just finishing as Attila called.

A busy day, in an unexpected way.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-14C (-6.8F)
Date: 9:00 PM EST Wednesday 14 January 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Dewpoint: -14.8C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: NNW 10 km/h
Wind Chill: -19 (-2.2F)

Quote

“Let us, then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882