Saturday, May 21, 2011

An Uncommon Miracle

I am posting here a miracle that happened this past weekend.

Yesterday while Shirley was in town walking down the street with a fancy lady... (you must see her last blog post to really understand this comment.)

I noticed this fancy lady perched in our "tree house" tree.  Grabbing my camera with my standard 200 mm zoom lens I got this shot from the top step outside my office door.

I quickly put on my 400 mm lens and quietly going out the front door with camera on a tripod I made my way around the other side of the house past Shirley's office and down the path to the plateau where I sometimes set up the hammock.
Moving to another location on that plateau I captured this shot of the young eagle fluffing her feathers.

As I moved closer the eagle turned to look at me... wondering what I was up to.  You can see that she is really checking me out... but still she stayed put on the perch.

Carefully I advanced to the lowest deck, using the tree in the centre of that deck to block my sight from the eagle.  Setting the tripod up on the deck beside the tree trunk I was able to get this closest yet shot of this magnificent bird.

As this ferry, which I call the Queen of Black Forest Cake, made it's way toward Schwartz Bay I swung the camera around to get this shot using the full zoom of the 400 mm lens... "Life in a Ferry-land."

Having such good luck with this bird, I now slowly walked up the steps to Deck 5 and off to the ground, taking the curved rock stairs to the walkway in front of the crawl space access. None of my advance was shielded from the eagles view and I was amazed she stayed put.  This was my sixth location for shooting this bird... a record!  And it gave me the best yet unobstructed view.

But I had pushed my luck! ...and soon she was off.   Just like a beautiful lady, she decided that I was getting too close to her.  As she flew off to see what she could find for breakfast, I also went to find some cereal and fruit.

Of some 55 shots I have shared with you the best 8.  Later this year she will lose her youthful feathers and look like what we are accustomed to seeing a Bald Headed Eagle look like.

This was one of my most grateful moments of the week... an uncommon miracle of sorts. One does not often get to spend that kind of time with one of God's greatest birds.

"God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest."  ~J.G. Holland

To see other Common Miracles click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do You Believe in Angels?

There is nothing more frustrating than an appliance problem... and nothing more satisfying than getting the problems fixed and restoring equilibrium to our part of the planet.

I called this morning and got the good word that the repairs were complete and we could pick up our fridge.  There were 5 guys who unloaded this beast... but just three guys loaded it onto our truck today.

We were so happy to get this fridge home without incident... but not without a good scare!  Coming down the Pat Bay Highway to catch the ferry Shirley told me that it looked like the fridge was tipping over.  I looked in the mirror and sure enough... it was leaning back a fair bit.   Wind resistance at 90 kph was pushing it over... and only the rope and an angel kept it from flipping it over in the back of the truck.  Wow, was that a close call.  I quickly slowed down and the fridge came back down onto all fours.  I think our guardian angels were back there keeping that fridge from crashing over.

I chose to back the truck up our driveway from Tinker.... about one kilometre.  Didn't want the beast to slide back or fall over on our steep hill.  Once  home it was pretty easy to get the fridge onto the tractor bucket extension and deliver it to the front door.

We knew we had to take off the front door to get it thru without a hassle...

And it wasn't very long after getting home before we had it plugged in and starting to cool.  Life is now back to normal at our house.  PTL!

Now I am waiting to see if the hardwood dries out and returns to it's previous flat look.  Only time will tell.

"These things I warmly wish for you.
Someone to love, 
Some work to do,
A bit of sun, 
A bit o' cheer,
And a guardian angel always near."
-Irish Blessing

To see  other "Common Miracles" click here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gratefulness After Frustration

In a week of frustration over a freezer/fridge that won't get cold... and a hardwood kitchen floor with cupped boards that got water damaged... I was grateful to finally find an appliance repair business who would take our side by side unit in for repair.

It started with an ice maker that wouldn't make ice.  The cupped maple floor boards told us there was a water leak.  Damn!  I fixed the broken water tube... but noticed the condenser fan was not working and the compressor was hot as a pistol.

Since we were going to Kelowna the next day I called an appliance repair shop there and they told me to bring the fan and housing unit to them and they would put a new fan in the old housing. So that was an easy fix.  Unfortunately, it was not the only the problem.  Soon after the new fan was installed we noticed soft food in the freezer section.

I called my Kelowna contact and they said the next level of solutions was not going to be anything I could do myself.  If there was a compressor gone... or a leak in the system, it would involve freon gas and specialized equipment for experienced servicemen to do the work.  I could see big costs coming.

Living on an small island we do not have any appliance repairmen here.  To have one come from Vancouver Island starts with a service call of approximately $200 before they touch the appliance... at which time their hourly rate of $65 to $80 an hour kicks in... plus parts, if they happen to have the right ones with them.  It sometimes means two trips to complete the repair.  So you can see why most of them said to just go buy a new one.

I called 8 places before finding someone who would take our freezer/fridge to look at it.  Either they would not touch Frigidaires or they had no service shop.  Many appliance repairmen only do service work in customer's homes.

I had three different repairmen tell me that since our appliance was 9 years old it wasn't worth fixing... better off to buy a new one.  I know it would take well over $2,000 to replace it... so I was not liking their advice.

Even the guys who I took our appliance to told me first off it may not be worth fixing... But I argued with them and asked them to at least take a look at it and do a diagnosis for me.  They said if there was a leak in the system, chuck it.

So, we loaded the heavy beast onto the truck.  Thank the Lord for tractors with a front end loader.  I regret not taking a photo of that huge fridge on my little tractor... but we were really pushed for time if we were going to catch the next ferry.

We had to take off the front door to get the fridge out... and with all this last minute moving we almost missed the 11:15 ferry.  They were closing the gates when we got there, but they let us on. Pheeeew!

It took five guys to unload the fridge off the truck in town.  But the best news was my timing could not have been better.  I got to meet and talk with the actual repairman.  His name is Min.  He was available to start my job right away.  He put the fridge on a hoist... lifted it up 42 inches and did a quick diagnosis.

First he checked for leaks.  It was amazing to see how he could put a device on and attach gauges and verify the freon level was good and there were no leaks.  He saw that the compressor had overheated and was toast.  So he thinks that changing that part will have us back up and working again.  He likely completed the repairs on Friday... but wanted to keep the fridge there for a couple of days and confirm everything is working perfectly.

They have electronic equipment and computers that monitor the appliance after repair and produce a graph on paper that verifies if everything is working normally.  So in 24 hours they will know for sure it is fixed.

I am hoping that $500 will have it repaired... and that is a lot better than buying a new replacement.

So we are grateful to know we have found the solution... and that it made sense to repair it.  If it all checks out we can pick it up on Monday.

I expect that I will be taking up the kitchen floor and replace the hardwood with tile.  Even if the wood dries out and the boards return to normal we pulled the fridge in and out so many times the wheels wore a track into the hardwood finish that is not fixable.  Tile will be a better solution.  The area is not that big so I can do it pretty easily.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring... Better Late Than Never

The following 13 photos were taken within about a week as I was coming home from Tucson to Calgary and then  to Mayne Island, BC... signs of spring in Canada.

We saw several groups of Prong Horn Antelope close to the highway in Montana and southern Alberta.

The day we left Calgary it snowed... giving me goose bumps on my sunburn.  They say, "Alberta has ten months of winter and two months of tough sledding."

What a surprise to see these new tulips almost ready to burst into blossom.

New fern fronds getting ready to leaf out.

"Weeds are nature's graffiti."  ~Janice Maeditere

"Plant and your spouse plants with you, weed and you weed alone." 

"Earth laughs in flowers."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Hamatreya"

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." ~Claude Monet

"All flowers in time bend towards the sun, 
I know you say there's no one for you, 
But here is one."
-Jeff Buckley
I hate flowers. I only paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move. -Georgia O'Keefe

"He who plants a tree
Plants a hope."
~Lucy Larcom

"Where flowers bloom so does hope." -Ladybird Johnson

"The actual flower is the plant's highest fulfillment, and are not here exclusively for herbaria, county floras and plant geography: they are here first of all for delight." 
-  John Ruskin   

To view more Thursday Thirteen participants click here.

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hiking Carrot Mountain

This morning when Shirley suggested we go for a walk before breakfast, I asked her if she would like to join me in a hike up Carrot Mountain.  This is the season of the year when we can see some waterfalls.

Compared to last summer when Marvyn and I did this hike, this waterfall, at best, had just a little damp moss back then.

Now the water was running so strong, in some places it had overflowed it's normal course and was also running down the path.

Shirley is telling us here how much she likes the feel of the ice cold water on her feet.  I was amazed at how she had no fear of just walking thru the water... and there was more ahead if we were going to the summit.

Part way across she sent me an urgent request to come and get her.  To which I gave her an urgent reply to just make a run for it!  The spray from the falls was very refreshing, but I didn't see any way I could save her from it.

Even though this picture shows only a small stream... the symphony of music that it produced was quite majestic.  While most of our local brothers and sisters were in church trying to stay awake in a sermon, we were in God's other church... with no droopy eyelids.

I only brought my iPhone... but Shirley had her Nikon and got into capturing these fresh shoots.  She also got excited about the birch bark today.

This is not her photo... but this is one of the many we stopped to shoot.

Closer to the summit I caught this photo of some Ponderosa bark... which always makes me think of jig saw puzzle pieces.

There were a couple of fungus buddies on this tree that begged for a little attention.

There were more fresh flowers along the trail than I could capture with my iPhone.  Shirley got more of them than I did... which is one reason our hike took us almost four hours round trip.  Memory tells me this flower is from the onion family.

Shirley was so delighted to pose for me at the summit.  It was her Everest experience!

We were surprised to see so much snow at the summit.  As we started down, our path was snowed in... but we found a way around it and soon were back on track.

Near the top of Carrot Mountain we saw lots of evidence of elk.

When I asked Shirley to stop for a picture between the cairns, she gave me this grateful pose and said it was for her Buddhist husband.

It was a good thing she paused for prayers here, as shortly after she got going too fast and missed a corner, resulting in a spill with a slide upside down head first on her back.  I came to rescue her, finding her hanging on to a branch for dear life with one hand and the other on her Nikon.  She got up on her own steam... luckily with only a few scratches on her back.

There is really only one great viewpoint to get a shot of the Okanagan Lake Bridge... I call it the Bridge Viewpoint.  The bridge is between 1/3rd and 1/4th from the left... really.

This was one more time I wish I had brought my Nikon so I could use the telephoto to pull that new bridge up closer.  But in general I am always amazed at how good the pictures come out with the iPhone camera.

Looking west from the Bridge Viewpoint we knew we had to hurry back down the trail, as clouds were moving in and we didn't want to get wet.

We are almost back down and the Saskatoon's are blooming quite profusely.

 With all the rain so far the Saskatoon's have a jump start on a good season.

There is a lot happening in this photo.  To the left of the Fairway Three Condos is a sports field with lots of action under way.  The Shannon Lake Golf Course is running at full capacity.  Many home owners in Shannon Woods are busy doing spring yard clean-up.

We dragged our tail feathers down the final stretch to our car.  It took us about 90 minutes to come from the summit back off the mountain.  Everest it is not... but we got some good exercise and had a very interesting hike.  We met only one guy hiking on the trail... and I saw a couple more hikers trucks parked near mine when I got back.

The trail was in really good shape in general and several places I could see evidence that someone has been trimming branches to keep the trail open.  The path appears to be well travelled... so people are using it... and maintaining it.

"My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing."  ~Aldous Huxley