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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Scout Tomatoes...


The Scout Tomato
A couple of days ago I posted about how birds send scouts
out to see if its OK for the rest of the flock to head north... If you are new here, you will
realize that this posting probably relates to others that came before, but are below
so don't hesitate to take a look.

Cherry Tomatoes remind me of a day back in 1979 after I had quit smoking...
one day late that summer, I came upon a Cherry Tomato plant and there was a ripe one
there, just like the one above. At the time, I wasn't much for tomatoes, but
for some reason, I picked that little guy and decided to eat it right there!

It exploded in my mouth!

I hadn't eaten a tomato since I had stopped smoking, and it was a surprise that
took a few moments to sink in... I began to realize all that I had been missing. The tomato made me realize that it was not only the taste that I had been missing
as a smoker.

I started to ask people what they really thought about my smoking... Lynnda indicated that it is like "kissing an ashtray". Others indicated that they were reactive
to cigarette smoke. I began to realize another support
structure that would keep me off the smokes.
It did!

Now, this experience wasn't large enough for me to recommend that people take up smoking
so that they one day can experience that sensation of tasting a
tomato for the first time.
But it is large enough to suggest for those readers of the blog that do smoke
that you do a before and after taste test... try a
Cherry Tomato, then quit, and a few weeks later, try one.

Back to Scouts...
the scout part of this blog is because it is a push to get
tomatoes to grow
to maturity here on the eastern shore... we have a lot of fog... and
they need
a lot of sun. Like the birds, there is a tradition in the tomato family that causes

them to send out an early ripe, red, tomato to see if its OK to let the rest of

the family to ripen...

Well, it is almost September, and we have our first
Cherry Tomatoes! It is a large year!
Lynnda has been freezing
blueberries, blackberries... peaches have been turned into jams, tonight special plumbs are being harvested and put down.

A taste of Nova Scotia, smoke free!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fall is coming... the Scout trees...


You have probably heard of various bird species that commute/migrate from
north to south and back to the north where they enjoy themselves
and make babies each year... more proof that one can have more fun in Canada
in the springtime!

Anyway, the birds often send out "scouts" to see if it is warm enough for the rest to come north.
I have never figured out whether the scouts come back and tell the rest... OK, its time...
or if they don't come back the rest figure the weather must be great, let's go;
or, if they don't come back, they figure they must have frozen their asses off, let's not go!

Anyway... following are several posts that happen based on pictures I took today... they are explained when you get to the explanation blog... cool eh?

Back to the Scout Trees... I was surprized today, as I drove to Truro, to see my first
trees showing that
FALL IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

These are two scout trees, in the tradition of the bird scouts.
They are testing the temperature in the micro climates along the
Musquodoboit River Valley.

They are surprising, beautiful, and damn, where did summer go!

Musquodoboit Had A Little Lamb...



Around a corner and I come onto a sheep herd... they use Border Collies to move these
from field to field. They don't have to mow this grass!
As I started taking pictures, they turned away from me
except the guard lamb in the left foreground!
Just another country view on the way to Truro... Keeps my mind clear...

Around another corner... and stop at the bridge


This is the upper Musquodoboit River looking east on the top
and west on the bottom picture.
This is a great canoeing river and very good fishing. I am hoping to try it from top
to bottom next year. It is quiet here, and the reflections are
great... I like the way the blue of the sky in the reflection is soooo much better color
because I am still shooting without a filter, and the bright of the sky itself is
bleached out without it. The blue in the water is the real sky color... plus the clouds.

Chaswood Meadows, in the Shubenacadie Valley







Continuing down the highway, I came to the Chaswood Meadows, Dicks Unlimited project that was
implemented in 1983. The upper picture is of the plaque there, with an image of what they were trying
to do... establish a wetland for wildlife. I have seen everything from waterfowl to Redwing Blackbirds, to eagles to beaver and muskrat here.
Last week a gaggle of Canada Geese on the roadway had traffic stopped... a couple of cars in fifteen minutes... when I came through. It looked so great, I thought I should stop
one day to see what it is about.

In the pictures, you can see the very cool fish ladder that allows flow to the east side of the road that is about ten feet below the west side. You can see water lillies and other marshie areas fo about a kilometer.
The pics can be improved... I need to get some filters, so you can in the future see the
great, blue sky colors.

One of my points here is that we often see these projects publicized when they are launched... here is one that really works... 25 years later!

Great Rolls of.... Hay!




I was on the road again today, to Truro to visit Edith... that's my Mom. Its a long drive made
short by the beauty and by the fact that I can take about
twenty different routes... from divided highway to dirt roads.
I take my camera with me, but usually am in too distracted to stop and take the pictures that record that beauty of central Nova Scotia. I go along the Musquodoboit River through a valley of the same name
(I don't dare spell it again), over into the Shubenacadie River Valley, thru Stewiake to Truro.
Today I decided to take some of those pictures, and describe them in several postings...
here they are...

When we were kids, we used to love the opportunity to spend a day in the freshly cut hay fields
and help to throw newly bailed fifty and eighty (for the big guys) pound squares onto the wagon that was attached
to the tractor we longed to drive. The sun beat on us, we got sweaty and by noon we were
ready for more than just water, we wanted CoolAid and icecream... and by evening it was into to the
steamed corn and hot dogs...
good pay for a day of proving oneself a man. And Ohhh was the sleep to come early, and our sweet dreams were more of going to school on Monday, 'cause this Sunday work thing was tough... hands cut on the bailing twine, cuts up the arms, stinging in the sweat that rolled from head to toe.
But the memories were, and are great.

I have always wondered what the kids do today to grow-up in stature, and self-confidence. I don't know what happened to fifty and eighty pounders, those measures of strength and maturity and rites of passage...

When I see the Great Rolls of Hay on the horizon like the top picture here, I wonder... today I drove into the fields for some close-ups of the way they bail hay now-a-days...
These weigh hundreds of pounds, don't need a barn in which to stack and store them, and are moved around by a tractor with a unicorn like dagger on the front that stabs the bail, lifts it, and carries it to a resting place... covered in plastic.

Why? I asked the farmer, and he told me that there were no kids to help bail; hay stored in plastic outside wouldn't burn down barns as in the ragging, spontaneous combustion infernos of bygone years. Yes, they are harder to
handle on a day-to-day basis... but they are more efficient financially.

What ever happened to growing up...

On the Road Again...



It is interesting to use photographs as tools of communication... you know the old adage that a picture can save a thousand words.
When I took the top pic last night it was a reprise of one that I have published in the past
that had a bright red sunset... it was a fall photo.
I was thinking of the railing as a road into the sky and then I looked at the horizon from a different perspective, showing the storm coming from the west.
I liked the way the first picture has one thinking of turning to the south or even to the south east.
Some photographs can be metaphors for life and perhaps
hold special meaning because of the metaphor rather than the beauty of the image.
Turning away from the storm is a typical thing to do... and we have to do this many times in life.
I like the way the turn in the first picture, takes us away from the
unseen storm in the second.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pain is temporary...

... it may last a minute, an hour, or a day... or a year. But eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit however... it lasts forever...

Lance Armstrong

The Black Swan...



The other evening, Lynnda and I were watching "NUMBERS" on the tube and they referred to The Black Swan when they were discussing a random event as part of the investigation.
Sometimes when the character Charlie, the smart guy says something, I like to get
to Google and see if he is blowing smoke... so I did in this case, after he used the line

" we should rank our beliefs not by their plausibility,
but by the harm they may cause"


I thought that this was really an interesting line, and after a little searching, I found it came from the book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Taleb.

It still seems like an interesting line as I think through the many situations we find ourselves in on a daily basis. I know that there are many times in a day that I think I know something
and it turns out that I really knew only a part of "something".
As I take actions, I find myself more and more hoping that I know the important facts,
not the interesting ones that I may have picked up on.
In many business, friendship and family situations it would be interesting to rank what we believe
by the harm they are going to do if we act on them, rather than
whether we are right.

Sometimes even the tube programs are more real than we give them credit for. After spending some time researching Nassim Taleb, I have had to add to my reading list.

The picture above (taken by Lynnda) is of a flower called the Datura. It usually blooms in the evening and can be dazzling
but it is also deadly... I think.
It is a white flower, until you look at the rim... which is not!

The Lily is called 'Star Gazer'. There are several in bloom this week around the property... we got the seeds from John and Lucille Stuart last fall. If you want to spread some beauty, ask for
some seeds to sow...

What's It Like Up There?



Some times I get asked by my friends, what's it like up there? Yesterday we attended
a lobster party where locally caught lobster were steamed for about thirty people (I let my lobster escape back into our cove so he could copulate and give us more for next year) and we had what we call a
"great tongue wag".
That's part of what it is like around here. Good food from the sea and hopefully local farmers; lots of various liquids to swill it down (our neighbors actually had a drink machine mixing cocktails) and
great discussions about important things like the weather, sailing, Obama, McCain and the Loonie.
This morning I decided to grab a couple of pics to try and depict what it is like around here for Lynnda and me.
The top picture gives you a sense of the North Atlantic... This was taken at Peggy's Cove and the water is the ocean... next port England. The rocks are granite and very slippery. The ocean has on many occasions risen to take unwary folks to their grave. We get thirty to forty foot swells here during storms.
The next pic is closer to home... in fact it is our summer digs here on the Jeddore Harbour. The tide is out thanx to Mother Nature; the lawn is mowed, thanx to Lynnda; the new dock is in thanx to Kim Aaboe and his crew, and it is a beautiful day...
The third picture is of one of our gardens.
That's what it is like here in Nova Scotia, for Lynnda and me.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Buddy Wrexy


Wrex Alot has an eye problem and is losing his vision... so his dad Ron Smith
has bought him Doggy Goggles to protect his eyes from
the UV light, which is a culprit in his disease.

It is kinda cool that one can look soooo cool, because one's eyes are bad. Reminds me of
Ray Charles.
He sings better than Wrexy, but he can't howl as well!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another Nova Scotia Night...



Last evening Ron and I had a huge fire, made up mostly of our old dock, and his old trees... we cut both apart last week, and stacked it for burning on the shore... the tide does a great
job of putting out the fire.

Last evening we had a great sunset, and this morning the mist (this is not really fog) over the water made it almost as beautiful to look at as the sunset.

Some people come for the sun, others for the mist...
Either way, it is worth staying for, especially when there is a Nova Scotia dinner of local wine, fish, vegetables, blueberry dessert, Port
and liquors in between...

'Tis the season in Nova Scotia





Here is another thing that visitors to our province don't get to do
unless they know it is available to them... of course they do get to enjoy the fruits
of someone else's labor. In this case, Lynnda and Therese Spike have
been harvesting Blueberries from Paul and Therese's large Christmas Tree Farm Lot for the last couple of weeks. I happened to go over the first and last day... today. We picked about five pounds in
an hour.
Then I labored more, and made whipped cream from scratch. Benny liked the cream more than the berries. I like making the whipped cream because I can churn it 'till it is almost butter...
but to be retired!

What To Do About Quality...





In 2006, Lynnda and I attended the Saltscapes Home Show in Halifax. While there, we discovered
a company called Lakelands Fine Patio Furniture, from Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia.
They were showing the Lakelands Chair, which is a form of an Adarondak Deck chair, one of the things we were looking for, to augment our new decks. SO we ordered four. Within weeks, we were
complaining to Greg Mailman, the sales manager, that the arms were
de-laminating... The process stopped, so we decided to let it go... mistake! After getting a deal to buy these for $175 per chair, yesterday I began dis-assembling them because they are full of dry-rot.
I thought I could fix them, but as I worked on the first, the yellow one, I realized that it was beyond help.

Two weeks ago Lynnda called Lakeland, and emailed them pictures... no response. So, I ask, what do I do about quality... especially when it is bad?
First, I have decided to do this blog; Second, I have decided to complete the dis-assembly; Third, I have found a cabinet maker who will cut the parts for ten chairs, which I will have made out of properly kiln dried wood, which Lynnda and I will finish as parts; and we will assemble them and keep them for ourselves. Then, if they turn out well, and people like them, I plan to take orders, and start a little business, competing with Lakelands, making a complete line of products that have 'quality' built-in, customer follow-up, and pricing that allows anyone to have well made Nova Scotia deck furniture.

That's what to do about quality!

I say to the people at Lakelands Fine Patio Furniture
FINE FURNITURE MY ASS

Friday, August 22, 2008

"545" Plus our Canadian Leaders...

Mike Carson is a great friend of mine, living in Southern California. I pay attention to everything he writes or sends to me... it is usually on the money. He has an MBA from the University of Southern California... USC and has had a career in the medical industry and owns Carson International, an excellent sales training company.

So what?

Well, Mike sent me the following article that is directed toward Americans and American Politicians. As I read it, I realized that it applied to all of the levels of Canadian Government... Federal, Provincial, the Senate, and even our municipal leadership. So, I am posting it here on the blog, so that you can consider it, and perhaps pass it on... some really good thinking here, and when asked why I am hard on Rodney MacDonald... these are the reasons...

Thanx Mike

This is the simplest, most understandable explanation of the woes of the nation

that you'll ever read anywhere.



545 People

By Charlie Reese --

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits,

we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high

taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.
You and I don't have the Constitutional

authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.
You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices -

545 human beings out of the 300 million - are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the

domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress.

In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered

but private central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority.

They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing.

I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept

or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he

votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault.

They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.
No normal

human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating

deficits.

The President can only propose a budget.
He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution,

which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for

originating and approving appropriations and taxes.

Who is the Speaker of the House?
She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members,

not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over

his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted

-- by present facts - of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that

is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the
power of the federal government, then it

must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Marines are in Iraq, it's because they want them in Iraq.


If they do not receive Social Security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's

because they want it that way.


There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can

abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power

to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like

'the economy,' 'inflation' or 'politics' that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they

alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses - provided the voters have the

gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!


Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Great Days and Late Sunsets...





Wednesday was a beautiful day, and I almost missed this sunset... the sun is actually thirty minutes below the horizon but the late light seemed to maximize the power
in the clouds.
These four pics are a panorama of the horizon that overlap each other to some degree, taken

from our deck. The spruce trees are young ones that the Japanese Long Horn Beetles
don't seem to be able to penetrate and destroy; we are hoping that stays the case.

The great day came about when
I met up with a friend at my favorite bistro in Halifax... John Wilson. John has been my life insurance agent since we graduated in the 70's. He is also very involved in the
Canadian Cancer Society and is a Past President of the Nova Scotia Chapter. Each year he hits me up for a donation.
We all know I am an easy mark... but John does it differently!
He and six of his best buds go to the (this year) the new Ashburn Country Club
and tee of at day break and play golf all day... we donate based on the number of holes they get in from sun-up to sun-down.
New Ashburn is a 7,000+ yard championship course; they walk every hole, no riding carts and pull their own bags; the club gives them the right to 'play through' and the other foursomes honor it; and this year they played
six full rounds of 18 holes
Not only that, one member of the group played the fourth round in par, and eagled the same 'par five' twice in consecutive rounds. This is 108 holes, walking 42,000 yards.
What a great day!


Then last evening on the news, I listened to an interview with the CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation... can't remember his name, but his message was one I won't soon forget.
Cancer now kills more people than Aids, Malaria, and Heart Disease. Around the world the numbers are in the millions... yet we in Canada or the USA don't have a war on
Cancer.
Why Not?

I look at sunsets as something of a metaphor on life...
we wouldn't have much of a sunset if there wasn't so much pollution in the air, yet we have the beauty
And with the beauty, we have the clouds on the horizon.
The pollution giving us the beauty of sunsets is caused by the things that give us some material beauty and happiness,
but we fail to see the clouds.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Dock/Deck






We woke this morning to be able to look out at our new deck/dock for the first time. Last evening
we had a lobster roast (not really, but sh/could have) over the fire burning of most of the old lower deck which had seen far better days.
I had finished the flagstone walkway
a few weeks ago, and will build a new fire pit to the near right of the deck to ward off the chills of spring and fall when we resume our dock talks with our neighbors... talk mixed refreshingly with Blueberry Teas and grog. Our friends Kim, Gary, and Thomas from Baltic Woodworking
built this stage of the deck. They also built our upper decks and renovated our complete home here on the pond over the past couple of years. I can't but strongly recommend Kim Aaboe and Baltic for any high end work you might want to do on your home here on the Eastern Shore. They also put in the forms for the land base of the yet to come floating docks...
we will pour the cement to these and for several mooring blocks
early in the fall. We should be able to moor a couple of good size boats next year, and have
a dock from which to collect provisions and people...

We also burned a lot of wood from the seven trees that came down at the hands of a power saw. This was due to the "HRM" form of the Japanese Long Horn Beetle
which has systematically destroyed
these spectacular 60+ year old Spruce trees on our and our neighbors land. We are in a containment area
here on the pond, and can't even transport this wood off our properties... thus the burning
which will go on for several more evenings. The real reason we have these destructive pests here is
that the Halifax Regional Municipality didn't deal with them ten years ago
when they appeared in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park... coming here 'from away' on
containers that come to the container pier just a few hundred meters from PPP. This is
another symptom of the downside of global trade... but that's a subject for another time.

I have also uploaded a few pics of that wood... the top pic is of the three large trees that graced Ron and Bev Smith's (our neighbors to the north) water frontage. They have a very different view now! We piled half of the big trunks for splitting or transport in our driveway... thought you would be interested in seeing how trees grow when there is a strong prevailing wind from one direction... notice the rings
are full size on one side of the block... it comes from nature's hand... would make nice coasters... maybe I will do that... Christmas presents anyone?



Monday, August 18, 2008

A Calm Monday Morning






Early today, on the full-moon's inbound tide, I paddled north on Jeddore Harbour, crossed under
a high flow highway bridge and then a gut formed by an old bridge. It was good fun, since it
was with the rising tide that was flowing at about twenty knots through the narrows
belying the calm I was to come upon in the next views.
These pics are looking north in what is called the Naval Pool which is a brackish lake. From here, we can portage into hundreds of miles of lakes and rivers. At high tide, it reminds me a lot of paddling in the Georgian and Muskoka Lake districts... except when you notice that there are tide lines that you can pick out in these pictures. Your can click on the pics to blow them up, and hit the return arrow to get back to this blog page.
The top picture shows the bow of the Legend kayak I paddle most of the time, looking north toward the next lake. If you look carefully in the second picture, you can see how much higher the water of the next lake is... it is fresh water, the salt never gets into it. I was looking to take these pictures with the reflections to try and show the tide lines on the rocks... it is especially apparent on the lower picture.
Unfortunately many visitors to Nova Scotia don't get on the water and experience
these types of visions. There are Kingfishers, Ospreys, Eagles, Loons, "Skags", seals, muskrats, otters, mink, porpoise and many other animals...
but very few humans.
On the way back to the south, I had to portage around the gut... the current was still too strong to attempt when paddling alone. Then I tried shooting the highway bridge and got turned around,
almost over.
These shoots are very runnable on ebb-tides and two to three days either side of full and new moons. It is fun to shoot them any time, if you are together with other kayaks... and when you don't have a SLR camera on the deck!
I decided not to attempt it again, and did the portage, which was several hundred meters to a viable put-in. The water is warm this year... in the mid-seventies. Not
a bad way to enjoy the early morning hours.
If you can, I hope you will come and try the salty.

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Blueknowser

My photo

Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!