Friday, September 22, 2023

Well here we are in what is rapidly becoming the end of September. We have been busy around Dogpound North with a bunch of stuff that I won't bore you with here, but rest assured I have been putting the miles on the last month or so. We spent a few days up around the Buffalo Creek Ranch and then down to the J4 at Alliance for a visit with some friends. Once that was all done we figured we probably need to head west and spend some time with our friends on the Island. We took three days to get there, time slows us all I guess. But we did stop for a visit with my cousin, Wally, in Chilliwack, overnighted in North Vancouver and caught up with Heather's world travels before jumping on the boat to find a spot to hole up in on a beach south of Nanaimo. We had a great time visiting with old friends John & Gina Odo. Brenda and them have been friends for a long time beginning in what is a fondly remembered misspent youth.
And we even managed to fit in a lunch with Croft a blogger/RV'er who calls Campbell River home, and Don and Angela Ritter some folks we usually see in Yuma, Arizona where they hole up during the gray months of a Vancouver Island winter.
Then it was time to head back through the Rockies to our Alberta home. It is a beautiful drive this time of year, but unlike the drive out we only lingered a little on the way back so it was just a day and a half affair. Since getting back we have been busy, the trailer is in Red Deer getting a new Goosebox installed, and I have been running the roads between Rocky (Lacey) and Chestermere (Becky) getting in some visiting and helping them with a couple of things along the way. Today Brenda is hard at it turning our apple harvest into pie filling that will be much appreciated sometime this winter. Me, I am just sitting here supervising that operation and contemplating heading south in a few weeks.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Summer Musings

If you came for the pictures I will let you down easy. No cool pics here, but I did think I needed to catch up on what has been happening here at Dogpound North. Since my last update in June we have been doing some mechanical upgrades around the place. Started off with installing a new heating plant. The old one has served us well, but it was put in when we built the house 40 years and was probably state of the art back then, but the art of heating a house has changed significantly over the past four decades. The old natural gas furnace was about 60% efficient and back in the day that was pretty good and gas was cheap and plentiful in those days as well. Well in the intervening decades gas has become more plentiful and not much more expensive, but the wisdom of our government up here in this place we affectionately call "the land north of summer" has made burning gas a much more expensive proposition what with their version of a revenue generating tax they claim is doing a wonderful job of changing the climate here on this planet. Call me a skeptic but I think the facts are actually a little different. Canada is responsible for about 1.6% of the total green house gas emissions on this third rock from the sun. So in reality we could shut off the heat, close the roads and all begin succumbing to hypothermia here in the Great White North and it wouldn't make a whisper of a difference to the global situation. But all that said the point of the story is we are doing our part with this new furnace. It has an efficiency rating of 97%, but it is still burning that good Canadian Natural Gas. The pointed heads in our capital would have liked us to go with some kind of heat pump, but those folks haven't figured out that once it gets down much below zero there is precious little heat to pump in Canada's frozen north. But wait, that's not all. Our home was built in the early 1980's and used the best of the best when it was designed and built, my Dad didn't do anything halfway and this house wasn't going to be where he started. The walls are thicker than usual for that time, and the windows were amongst the best available at that time, but again time takes a toll on all of us, even windows so we ordered new windows, top to bottom, last February and in the middle of July a crew of guys came by and installed 23 super duper triple glazed gas filled windows and a matching pair of patio doors. Amazing what two Ukrainian boys, one who has been here for a decade or more and the other who is just new to the country could do in a short five days of work. They did a great job and although we can't tell what impact the new glass will have on the heat situation this winter, we sure have noticed that these new windows keep the house a lot cooler in the summer, without us even having to pull the blinds. I will drop a couple of photos of the during and after of the window installation in somewhere here.
While the windows were being installed we packed our stuff and spent that time living in the RV across the yard so that the crew didn't have to have us mucking about in their way, and could leave their tools, etc. in the house. They did a great job of cleaning up after themselves and other than those stickers on the windows left nothing behind. The new windows are great but anyone who knows Brenda knows those stickers have been driving her OCD crazy. I have a guy coming tomorrow to do an Energy Audit on the house and once he is gone so are the stickers. Now that all the reno work is done we are hoping to drag our RV out and see a little country for some time this month. It is time to take my Mom home to Auburndale where she will join my Dad, and brothers in her family plot, along with her folks and her brother. Hoping along the way to visit some friends who ranch up in that country as well, and then it is home to daydream about leaving all this energy efficient stuff here to look after itself this upcoming winter. Not entirely sure where we will spend the winter months this year but we are sure hoping the butter stays soft wherever it is. This Blogger app is long past its best before date so rest assured I had paragraphs and sentences in the version I typed, but it appears that is beyond the capabilities of this program now. If anyone has a better way to do this on a Mac machine, let me know and maybe, just maybe I will get more updates done.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

HANGING OUT Figured it might be time to do a short update and maybe change the view a little.
The shot above is at Gap Lake along Highway 1A west of Exshaw, Alberta. We haven't been doing to many exciting things here at Dogpound North. Brenda has been tending to her flowers and with the ongoing drought we have been experiencing it is a constant battle to keep them hydrated. We have been busy getting Mom's house ready for its sale and distrubuting family "heirlooms" and donating the rest. The house was sold last week so that journey is now complete. The trailer is still sitting, not even dewinterized as yet, but who knows, maybe this week. I have been having some issues with the solar charging system so will need to get that figured out before we head off into the wild blue yonder. To change things up a little we decided we needed to take a drive out west into the mountains. We went out as far as Lake Louise although not right to the lake, to many people there I am sure. Our drive took us past Gap Lake (photo above) and then out the Bow Valley Parkway past Castle Junction where we had captured a shot of Castle Mountain that will be included here. Castle Mountain has a storied history at least the naming part of it. It was orginally called Miistukskoowa by the Blackfoot people for a long, long time, time immemorial they say. And then along came the Europeans and in 1858 decided it should be called Castle Mountain, because of its resemblance to those European Castles I suppose. From 1946 to 1979 it was renamed Mount Eisenhower to honour the Supreme Allied Commander after World War II, then those pesky European/Canadians complained enough that it reverted back to Castle Mountain. The pinnacle at the Eastern End of the mountain 9right side of the picture) was named Eisenhower Tower at that point and that is the way it remains until now. If I actually knew how to pronounce it I would call it by its Blackfoot name Miistukskoowa, which for all I know just means a really big pile of rocks. No matter its name it is pretty majestic. We had lunch on our way home at a favourite Canmore restaurant Rocky Mountain Flatbread and headed back into our drought stricken neighbourhood. Blogger was its usual PITA and I had to rewrite this a couple of times but one good thing has come from the delay. This morning after my usual session at the swimming pool it started raining here at DPN and hopefully will continue for a long, long time.
Just a little postscript, for those who are wondering I have left the borg for all intents and purposes, I no longer frequent Facebook or Instagram, although I do still have a Messenger account.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Still Kickin'

 It has been a while since I last popped into update this blog. We are all alive and well here at Dogpound North and the clunky blogger app makes updating this journal a bit of a chore, especially if I don't have a bunch of exciting things to share.

It has been a pretty decent winter here at DPN, not to cold, but a fair amount of snow. We aren't complaining though we can always use the moisture, no matter what form it comes in. January and February just slipped by without a lot of fanfare. I did manage to get to the pool on a semi-regular basis and combined those trips with wellness checks on Mom's condo. 

Brenda and I did spend 7 or 8 days clearing out Mom's things and preparing the condo for sale. Not sure when that will happen, but it is ready to go whenever. 

With all that behind us we thought we probably needed to get away a bit, and booked ourselves a trip to Maui for a little sun and sand. We headed off early in March and spent three weeks touring the Island, watching whales and sampling a bunch of sub-par restaurants. The best meals we had the entire time came out of our own kitchen. We did find a great food truck, Da Nani Pirates, that did a great job on fish tacos.

It was Brenda's first time to Maui so there was lots to show her. I have been there a few times but we did manage to do something I had never been able to accomplish before and circumnavigate the whole island. The northern end is narrow and scenic but I had done that before. However the road the Hana is usually an out and back affair as the road around that end of the island is quite often closed, as well as in the past being off limits to rental cars. I think they recommend a high clearance vehicle but with a little caution we managed to slip around with our Mustang convertible with only a little dirt and dust to show for our efforts. It is a beautiful drive and only about 10 miles in the middle is rough and narrow, although some parts hang along seaside cliffs there was nothing really bad if you were willing to take it easy and use a little caution. And only a couple of times did we meet others in places where we couldn't sneak past each other. Kind of like being back on a seismic line in the old days.

Honolua Bay on the North End, Molokai in the background

We stayed in a condo near Maalaea and enjoyed a bunch of great sunrises.

And we did see a few whales, one time we had three, Mama, baby, and an escort breaching all at once. The human eye can catch a lot more than a camera so the best pictures are saved in our minds, but these might have to do for the rest of you.

And then they said goodbye and went deep.

When it came time to head home we were at the airport when it seemed they couldn't get our plane started and cancelled our flight. It took awhile but Air Canada sprung for a room for the night, not fancy, but clean and a nice pool to cool off in after a long hot wait at the airport. It didn't hurt my feelings that they brought over a new plane the next day for our ride home while the mechanics worked on the broken one. It was a good time on Maui and seeing as how they had put some of the folks who were in a hurry on other airlines for the ride home we had a lot of extra room to stretch out on the plane.

Last summer our trailer had some damage to the front cap and the roof from a combination of falling trees and a big wind storm here at home, so it spent the winter up at Woody's getting all that addressed by the insurance company. We brought her home today, so are hoping to get back out and see some country this summer.

Thursday, January 12, 2023


Mom and Charlie II

Georgia Brown 1929-2022

After a wonderful Christmas where all her Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren were able to come and visit with her my mother passed away peacefully on December 29th. She had been diagnosed with cancer a year and half ago and made the decision to live out her life without spending a lot of time being sick and tired from treatments that would probably not extend it much anyway. As she said "I am 93 and have had a good long life, done a lot of things and will leave here with few regrets. On to the next great adventure."

She was born in Vermilion, Alberta the first child of Brent and Ethel Macnab. She spent her early years there on the family farm, growing up with her younger brother Brent. They travelled back and forth to school on an old draft horse that my Grandfather had to tune up from time to time when he decided it was not a good day to go off to school. Once she was done in that one room school she went off to Vermilion to finish her grade school. She was her Class Valedictorian and commented in her speech at the grad ceremonies that she and all her contemporaries heading off to University would have to sit out a year as the soldiers were coming back from World War II and they would be taking all the available space that year. She was 16 at the time. She spent that year working at Longs Drugs in Vermilion and completed her Apprenticeship for her Pharmacy license almost before she entered University. Sometime along the way she met and fell for my Dad, and was married the fall after graduation. Dad was a Calgary kid and working in the oil business so after their honeymoon spent on the backroads of Alberta scouting drilling rigs and seismic crews they moved into a house on 17th Ave, near 19th Street NW. While they lived there I came along and derailed her Pharmacy career for a few years I suppose. I was followed by two more brothers, Brent and Kelly, but once she had us house broke she went back to the Pharmacy business and ended up managing a chain of drugstores in East Calgary. 

She was one of the very first women Licensed Pharmacists in Western Canada

We did all those things that families in the 50's and 60's did, camping, hunting, and fishing together. I remember almost fondly tramping along irrigation canals in Eastern Alberta looking for Ring-necked Pheasants, Mom on one side with her 20 gauge and Dad on the other with his old 12 gauge, and one bird dog or another ranging between them till we filled their limits. She only shot one big game animal to my knowledge, an antelope, and decided that it was more like shooting the neighbours dog than hunting so she hung up her rifle.

As she moved out of the Pharmacy business she took on the challenge of doing the books for both my Dad's companies as well as for Macnab Farms a farming operation that her brother Brent and her ran jointly for near 30 years after taking it over from my Grandfather when he decided to slow down a little.

Another of her long term hobbies was knitting and she knitted sweaters for everyone she knew, a couple even showed up at her service, and mittens by the thousands. One time I drove her down to Phoenix and she was in the passenger seat her fingers just flying and those needles just clicking away. By the time we finished that drive she had the entire footwell full of mittens. One of my memories as a little kid was holding skeins of yarn on outstretched arms while she rolled it into balls in preparation for another sweater, toque or more mittens. Later in life she started knitting small dolls that were sent off to far away places for kids, I know she had an award for knitting 5,000 of them and I am sure she made another couple of thousand before she retired her needles last year. Many of her friends from the complex were wearing those little dolls pinned to their jackets at her service yesterday.

Over the years she traveled extensively, both with family and her friends. She made it to every continent on the planet with the exception of Antarctica, guess growing up in East Central Alberta cured her of the need to head into the snow and ice.


And that is all we can really ask for. RIP Mom and say hi to all those who went before when you get to the other side.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

 Well here we are in the middle of April and the snow is coming down the road from Dogpound. We can use the moisture though, so I am a little hesitant to complain to loudly. I sure would rather it was a nice slow warm rain that lasted about 4 or 5 days though, the country is parched and we are likely to deal with a lot of forest fires to the west of us and drought on the crop lands to the east if we don't get some timely rains.

Since I last spent anytime on this blog we have not done a lot of real interesting things, I have gone back to swimming a few days a week, and put the batteries back in the RV a week or so ago, during one of our warm windy spells. So it is ready to roll once the weather cooperates. Not sure where to though, with the price of fuel, maybe we will be doing some moochdocking right here in our own yard. Not to much sacrifice though, it has a spot down in a shady spot with its own power, water, and fire pit, with an endless supply of firewood included in the price.

Mom is doing great, her hip has healed pretty well and she is getting around the house pretty well. I stop in there a few times a week and haul her groceries and make sure those kind of things are tended to.

A couple of weeks ago I ran down to Frank Lake a little south of Calgary to see Elsa, a pelican who in the Alberta birding community has become something of a legend, she has taken up permanent residence here in Canada. While the rest of her flock head for warmer climes in the winter she has found that the water at Frank Lake, because of some inflow from both the Cargill plant and the town of High River doesn't freeze over and there is an infestation of Prussian Carp, a sort of wild goldfish, that have invaded the water and supply her with nourishment, so she is sticking around and enjoying the Canadian winters, for two years now. Speculation is that, although she can fly short distances, she doesn't have the stamina to make it all the way south with the squadron of her flock mates.

Elsa - a "Canadian" White Pelican

As I said not much happening here so I will close this with a few pictures I have taken since the last blog.

Down the Road from Dogpound

Blue Jay hanging out with us this morning


Rough Legged Hawk from our DPN Rodent Control Air Division

Part of our Dogpound North Air Division who looks after some aerial surveillance and rodent control

Old Bins down by the creek

Friday, February 18, 2022

Is it Time?

A real Snowbird, actually a Snow Bunting

Maybe, February is racing by and that means it has been a couple of months since I last updated this blog. Not that we have done anything exciting and I hesitate to tell you about my daily activities as that can get pretty monotonous as they mostly consists of popping into the city every couple of days to visit Mom, and watching the sun come up, cross the sky, and drop off in the west. Makes for a nice pictures but not a lot of entertaining activities to share here. 

Mom is back home, has been for over a month now, and although she is not up to hiking around on the ice, she gets around just fine at her place and is settling back into her routine. She has a few follow-up appointments over the next few months so that will keep us fairly close to home.

This the third February that we have been enjoying the weather here down the road from Dogpound out of the last 4 so we are pretty used to the weather here now, again! Since the cold snap we had over Christmas with the -40ish lows we came into January and those chinook winds saved us from the deep freeze. For the most of January we had fairly warmish weather, not sunbelt warm, but not to bad for here, just around freezing in the nights and sometimes up in the double digits Celsius during the day. We survived, although as I am writing this we are heading for more seasonal temps (-20Cish) over the next week or so. That should knock down the mosquito population so those pesky little buggers won't be pestering us for a while yet.

I have been watching a few RV vlogs on Youtube so Hitch Itch as set in, but we won't be moving to far until after breakup here. We have winterized the rig and our lithium batteries are warmly ensconced in the basement so it will take us a day or two to get it road ready once the weather cooperates. That will happen sometime in late April or May in this part of the world.  I have hauled our rigs through the winter a few times and really have no need to practice that this late in the winter.

So far Brenda and I have navigated this pandemic without incident, whether from vaccines, good health, or just lucky, so we are hoping to continue with that trend.

I'll throw in a few pictures that will probably be repeats for my friends on Facebook though.