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Friday, January 30, 2015

Spring Break Is Over

It was supposed to be my day off, but the phone rang at a quarter to eight a.m.  The bus company was short of one driver and there was nobody else to ask than…me. So I took the trip up to Cold Lake. Just another 11hr. day. It turned out to be the last day with temperatures around the freezing mark, but during the evening it got cold and all the water puddles froze.
Next morning was gloomy with a grey high cloud cover. Temperatures dropped further and in the afternoon it started snowing….and blowing. It took only two hours and the first trucks were in the ditch. One was actually pulling a trailer with a boat (!) which had a big outboard motor hanging from the stern. All ended up ….in the ditch. Who in his right mind pulls boats through frozen-up Alberta?

I have no words.

My home commute took a full hour! It seems like people take to driving as soon as the roads turn nasty.

Instead of staying home.

Never before had I seen such traffic volume than this evening on this stretch of road.
Driving was difficult as snowplows were absent.

Warm spring-style days are soon fading into the background. But we are in a warm house and nothing can change that.

When I fueled up the bus I saw this rig parked a bit off the gas station.

The owner has found his very own heating solution.

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Don’t do this in your rig!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What A Day…

Had the day off and was looking forward to a day with spring temperatures and a nice walk with Bea and Molly. The temperature climbed to 5-6C, so after lunch we headed down the trail into the North Saskatchewan River Valley.
DSC_0004The entire area is a city recreation park with many trails for both skiing, hiking and bicycling. A foot bridge leads across the river and you have your choice whether to follow a trail right along the river or rather climb up on the other side.

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I just couldn’t believe the temperature. We are only at the end of January and should normally be freezing cold, but here I walked with my winter jacket wide open wearing only a shirt underneath. Molly savoured the walk as well.
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All the time I had the feeling having been in need of a walk like that for quite a while, maybe especially after yesterday. Driving the bus north I had received a phone call from the company informing me that the bus I was going to meet with had had an accident. The driver had lost control on an icy patch driving in on a parking area and the bus had hit a store front. Luckily, nobody got hurt, but the bus was not drivable. I had now to drive beyond my normal destination to meet a replacement bus which at this time was running 90 minutes behind normal schedule.
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Reaching the small town of Mc.Lennan I still had to wait another 30 minutes before the bus came driving up. It was now 4:30pm and I had over 5 hours of driving back to the city ahead of me. I finally was back in Edmonton at 9:30pm. I still had to refuel the bus and drive home across the city. Needless to say I felt somewhat “exhausted” when I finally arrived back home at 10:30pm.
Days like that do happen and of course, one has to be willing and prepared to face a challenge.

Monday, January 26, 2015

When The Mail Man Rang Twice…

Have you ever wondered what happened to your mail service? Are you realizing what cuts the Postal Service has done to your daily mail delivery?

As I opened the “Edmonton Journal” this morning I found an article about a Postal cut-back made on January 26 1950 reducing daily residential mail service to only once a day.

Huh……??

So the postman rang twice a day? 

That sure puts today’s mail service in a different light.

But this 1950 service reduction was only the beginning. Canada Post was to make further reductions. In 1969 mail service was further reduced to 5 days a week. No more mail delivery on Saturdays.

While the 1950 service cut-back affected 30 Edmonton postmen, we are now looking at  Canada-wide job losses in the thousands over the next 5 years, as Canada Post has announced a “major overhaul” accompanied by sharp increases of postage rates.

Wow…!

How many more cut-backs can we tolerate?

I see growing opportunities for private courier companies on the horizon. That is, if you are willing to pay for it. Maybe electronic mail will take over more and more? With the latest generation of smart phones I get an alert every time a new email is deposited in my mailbox.

If you are of the older generation you will also remember that your milk was delivered to your door.
Milkman (1)milkmanOf course, your milk came only once a day or twice a week. Naturally, that kind of service would not even
work today as nobody would be home to take the milk inside as mom has gotten a job as well and is busy working in the city. Our milk would sit outside all day long turning sour.

I have heard some places still have an ice cream truck lumbering through the neighbourhood. But I guess it’s suffering a slow death as well.

icecream truck
Our way of life sure changed a lot over the last 40-50 years and more changes are to come. 


We have gotten busier than ever and with an ever-increasing traffic problem we now have less time and a growing horror to do our grocery-shopping. The result is a booming fast-food industry and all kind of pre-cooked food-items available in your food market. National mail order companies are already in the market delivering fresh vegetables pr. courier to your door.
logoAre our busy lives forcing us to go looking for alternatives?  Many people already are, as a near throw-back to pre-digital times is showing. An Edmonton-based company called GROCERY-BOX is now offering food deliveries right to your door. What they really do is going shopping for you. Delivery fee: 30 Bucks (20 for seniors and people with disabilities).  And that’s all they do - at your favorite food store. Instead of getting just milk and cream, your entire grocery bag is filled for you while you are still plotting over your work. 
The big question is whether somebody is going to be home to take the delivery inside or whether neighbour’s dog will be feasting on the delivery.
Chances are, you are still stuck in traffic when the delivery boy is ringing twice.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Deep Into Our Souls

What a beautiful Sunday morning! It’s warm outside and we are having a wonderful breakfast in a warm and tastefully decorated home.
From the radio I hear a well-known melody. It is “Morgenstemning” by Edvard Grieg, part of Peer Gynt, the famous Norwegian poetry by Henrik Ibsen. The music touches deep into my soul. This music is NORWAY in itself. The composer managed to make us see the pristine beauty of a Norwegian valley, lush green meadows and snow-clad mountains under a rising sun. Peer Gynt himself is standing high above over the bottom of the valley looking across to see the sun climb above the far-stretched mountain ridge.
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Edvard Grieg                         Jean Sibelius
It is remarkable what a talented composer can do. Their music often touches our souls in a way we never would anticipate.

There are other composers like Bedrich Smetana  (Czechia) who wrote “Die Moldau” a musical description of the river Moldau as it flows from its spring to the sea. And there is the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius with the “Finlandia Suite”, a mighty music over the endless forests and lakes of Finland, a true epos over this country on the northern fringe of Europe. What grand minds must have been behind those musical creations!

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Was Rewarded Today

As a bus driver I have the most uncommon experiences, mostly with the public. From being attacked to being praised to being rewarded with tips, everything in between as happened. But are bus drivers getting hugged…?

Today I had a young couple and their 5yr. old daughter on the bus. I dropped them off at the Airport. They were already on the curb when suddenly the little girl walked up to me, looked straight up and gave me a bear hug with a big smile. I was totally stunned and so was her parents.

That little girl sure made my day.

WE HAVE A HEAT WAVE
On a day in January one would never expect Alberta winter temperatures to raise to 10C (50F), but it so happened today in Edmonton. At the same time the temperature in Phoenix,AZ was 15C and Las Vegas,NV had 14C. Not really much of a difference I’d say. What feels warm in Edmonton must have been a rather cold day in Phoenix and Las Vegas.
All I can say is that we are enjoying this early “spring” a lot.

Thanks for dropping by!

For pictures pls. visit Bea’s blog: www.gosidewalk.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is It A Sad Day For Canadian Justice?

The community of St.Albert, AB is mourning the death of an RCMP-officer which was fatally wounded as he was investigating a car theft in a St.Albert Casino. What should have been a routine police procedure, turned into a deadly assignment for officer David Wynn when the suspect Shawn Maxwell Rehn fired shots at officer Wynn and his colleague Aux. Const. Derek Bond. While Bond was hit in the arm, Wynn was shot in the head and died without regaining consciousness.
Rehn is a guy with the most impressive rap sheet with nothing less than 55 convictions. His criminal career started at the tender age of 15. He has been known to law enforcement for most of his pitiful life. He has been in jail and released, went back to jail and was released again. Over and over and over. Even police officials are asking the question why this villain was allowed back into the public. However, the judicial system is still finding all kind of excuses of why and how this man’s acts can be explained and that society failed  to straighten out this guy, implicating that he is innocent of his crimes.
“Maybe he was suffering abuse, mental illness or drug abuse”. 
This is exactly the point where our justice system fails to function. Rehn was a living time bomb ending up with killing RCMP officer Wynn who also was a father and a husband. Shall we excuse criminals because they abuse drugs? Can society take responsibility for someone’s mental illness or that parents abuse their child?  I think not.

What do YOU think?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Settling In

It’s amazing how fast we could adjust from a life as campers to a life as “City Slickers” in a real house.
Everything has found a natural place here. And even Molly has adjusted nicely to her new home. The only thing she doesn’t like is the operating sounds of an older microwave. Indeed, she tries to hide in a closet, which we won’t allow her.

Of course, we both have a “new” commute to master. For Bea the commute has shrunk down from 40 min. to a 15-20 min. drive, for me it is still the same amount of time, but instead of open highways I have to negotiate through the traffic melee of Edmonton.
The distance I drive is a bit shorter though.

How nice is it to come home to a ready cooked meal and a baked banana cake???? VERY NICE!
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                                      Bea the busy bee!
And boy are we getting spoiled by the weather! The last days it has been a spring-like temperature with highs up to +6C. Sun is shining from a clear blue sky and everybody is taking a deep breath. It is a fact that the recent weather has been “the talk of the town”. And it is still going to last for this entire week. Sure nice to have a break in the cold of an Alberta winter.
I was thinking whether I should drag out the “lawn chairs”.

But that must wait for yet another warm day.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Big Day

As usual it was cold in the trailer when we woke up on this January 17. The clock showed almost 8am and I threw my legs over the edge to set up the thermostat. It seemed like a normal day, but of course, it wasn’t. It was moving day and after breakfast we got busy. Bea had already moved most boxes into one of the vans but there was still the outside chores, like emptying the holding tanks then pouring antifreeze into the freshwater tank and letting it run through the system. I removed the under-belly heaters and moved the propane tanks into the trailer for storage.
Finally all was ready and Molly had taken up her spot on the floor of the van. Both vehicles were packed and ready to go. A last stop at the office and then it was out on the road across the city to the east side.

Our “Snowbird-house owners” had left in the very early morning and prepared their home to receive us – the house sitters.

It took some running back and forth to move our stuff into the house but then it was all done.

Later I drove into the city to find a grocery store. What I found was a peach pie to celebrate our new temporary home.
DSC_0001 And just how does that look?

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Friday, January 16, 2015

A Letter To Tech Support

Dear Reader!

I bet you are one of them computer users who are just that USERS, but not totally tech savvy. Right? When you encounter your computer running slow or get en outright message that a nasty virus is rampaging between your precious data folders then you eventually succumb to call tech support – which most likely is a non-English speaking   expert located in India.

From a friend I received the following dialog about a special “software” he’s been having problems with for years. (hint:…his wife might be part of this)

Dear Tech Support,
Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend5.0 to Husband1. 0, and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband1.0  uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance9.5 and Personal Attention6.5; and then installed undesirable programs such as NBA5.0. NFL and Golf Clubs4.1.
Conversation8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning2.6, simply crashes the system.
Please note that I have tried running Nagging5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.
What can I do?
Signed,
Desperate

Dear Desperate,
First, keep in mind that Boyfriend5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband1.0 is an operating system.
Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme. Html, and try to download Tears6.2, and do not forget to install the Guilt3.0 update.  If that application works as designed, Husband1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry2.0 and Flowers3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence2.5, Happy Hour7.0, or Beer6.1.  Please note that Beer6.1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources).
In addition, please
do not attempt  to reinstall  the Boyfriend5.0 program. These are unsupported applications that will crash Husband1.0.
In summary, Husband1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly.  You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance.

We recommend Cooking3.0 and Hot Lingerie7.7.

Good Luck!
Tech Support
 

Over here It’s been packing day as we are to move into civilisation tomorrow. Luckily, the heat wave is prevailing so we don’t have to battle the problems of a frosty winter day. It might seem strange to you but I am almost feeling sad to abandon the days of camping, yet I know that life will be a lot more comfortable if I don’t have to worry about frost getting into our water system. We will leave the stubborn fridge behind and disconnect the trailer from the greedy power meter. I have purchased gallons of pink-colored plumbing antifreeze which we will inject into the water lines and tanks tomorrow. Said 4l of antifreeze has a local price tag of nearly 11 Bucks plus tax, while the same quantity can be had in the U.S. for around 4-5Bucks/gal.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Crocuses Won’t Come Early This Year

It would take a whole lot of optimism to assume that the flowers of spring would appear any earlier this year than normal. Yet, a person could come to such foolish anticipation if he would take today’s measured temperatures to be a sign that winter is bleeding out its force. Today Edmonton was hit with a WARM SPELL bringing today’s high temps up to 5C (41F) Snow and ice was melting before my eyes, but creating somewhat slushy road conditions which mandated the use of copious amounts of window washer fluid.
Midways through the day I received a text message from Bea saying that our frozen sewer pipe had sprang back to life, meaning that icy obstacles had vanished. Just in time, I’d say, given the fact that we need to leave the trailer on it’s own for the next 3.5 months. And who would want holding tanks filled to the brim, freezing up. Now at least Bea was able to empty said tanks, which really made my day.

We are still trying to lure the fridge back to life, but haven’t been blessed with any success. But I will let you know if this biggest of wonders will happen before we change our where-abouts.

YES,YES,YES…..I know…only 3more sleeps!

Wonderful!

Thanks for dropping by again!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

When The Mattress Is Freezing To The Wall And The Fridge Needs To Be Heated

Doing camping during an Alberta winter can be a real adventure. We had never done this before and had to make adjustments to our equipment and it sure makes for an interesting life style.
Here are a few things which can occur on a regular basis.

- locks and handles for compartment doors are freezing so they can’t be operated without thawing them out.

- one morning after freezing rain our entry door was frozen shut and needed to be warmed up with a hairdryer

- when electric heaters are running on the same circuit the breaker kicks out and the heater dies. That in turn will result in freezing up your water line before you notice the problem. We now know that and have 2 heaters on 2 different circuits.

- below the windows we find ice build-ups, which when thawing turn into lots of water. In order to avoid damage the water needs to be wiped off every morning after the furnace has warmed up the trailer.

- when outside temps are reaching arctic-level, inside temps have problems to reach 20C. (68F) and your mattress is freezing to the wall.  Woolen sweaters and extra bedcovers become a necessity.

- also under arctic temps you need to heat the fridge. RV-fridges tend to freeze up when temps are going under –30C. Ours is now frozen and our food is outside in a cooler. Saves a lot of energy but a little trouble lamp put in from the outside would have helped tp prevent the problem.

- under our mattress we have a layer of 1.5” heat- radiant Styrofoam, otherwise our butts would freeze to the mattress.

- our entry door step is turning into a slide which may or may not result in a broken leg.

- in order to survive ANY winter temps we needed a radiant Styrofoam skirting. Ours is 1.5” thick and is taped to the body of the trailer. The radiant foil is turned inward. Without a skirting we would have no way of heating the underbelly of the trailer and our shoes would freeze to the lino.

- Our windows are covered with bubble-wrap which helps reduce condensation.

- cupboards and closets are clad inside with silver reflective insulation foil.

- all wall openings like for water-and power lines needed to be “stuffed” with fiberglass insulation.

- with fresh fallen snow piling up, we need to leave our shoes at the door. Snow off the shoes needs to be thrown out to where it came from, that is unless you thrive with puddles on the floor.

- we have a “battery” of 6 propane tanks to keep us warm.

That is in the short what we have been dealing with so far. 7 more sleeps and we will move into a house.
We will leave our trailer in storage mode in the park as it would be a rather grueling undertaking to move it.

With all that in mind be sure not to venture north any time soon. You WILL be sorry.

Thanks for dropping by!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dead Body In Our Bath Tub

When Bea emerged from our washroom this morning she announced that a long-time trailer resident had passed away. And she found the body in our bath tub. It was our beloved fly which had succumbed to the rather arctic temperatures of the past few days. We have seen her many times sitting along the window enjoying the warming rays of the winter sun.
fly             R.I.P.

Once in a while she would be cruising at low altitude over our meals but never daring to sit down on my plate’s edge. Since she had been with us through the entire fall we had grown fond of her presence. Now we have to wait for spring temperatures to maybe get her successor.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Do You Like To Cuddle?

We were walking across the Walmart parking lot when we were approached by a CTV interview and camera team. They were on a mission asking us the very same question.

Huh….? 

Not an everyday question to receive I guess, but truthfully I answered “yes”. Their next question nearly blew me out of my socks: “Would you pay somebody to cuddle with you?” 

Hell….no!

Why not? There’s no need for Pete’s sake, we have been married for nearly 30 years.

Background for this survey was a Vancouver-based company who had already offered their cuddly services in the western metropolis, now wishing to establish a branch office in Edmonton.

Now, what would be YOUR answer?

And here’s a CBC link to it.

I don’t want to ridicule the idea of it. There might be situations when individuals are under enormous emotional distress with no friends and family around. But just to get a Wednesday evening cuddle….. I would certainly not enlist such services.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Cold Snap

The continuing story is that Alberta is going through a sudden cold snap which makes even seasoned Albertans go cold – ice-cold!

We just went from around –20 (-4F) to staggering –38C, (-36F)  even –40C (-40F) in certain places. Wind chill brought it even further down to –45C.
(-49F)  Now, folks this is bone-chilling cold. Even short stays outside can give you serious frostbite if parts of your skin are exposed.
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Frost smoke is wavering through the city and the nights are frightening cold with a big round moon laughing to it all. 20150104_170808
According to Bea Molly started limping along on 3 legs, finally laying down with the freezing 4th paw under her to warm it up. No weather to even let your dog outside!

How is camping in these temperatures?
It is an ADVENTURE!  Our water line is now frozen, but we have 2 big water containers inside. Inside temps are staying around 20C (68F), and that is the max we get at these temps. Of course one has to watch the contents of the propane cylinders.
Like last night Bea noticed the furnace didn’t work anymore. Tanks empty! But I have a two-bucket-wife. She got dressed (while I slept) and changed propane tanks on the trailer tongue. We were back in business!

Our vans are still starting even without being plugged in. Not too bad!

For further info stay tuned!

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Most Unwelcome Turn In The Weather

Over the past 24 hours we have experienced a drop of temperature from +3C (37F) to –20C (-4F) With the falling temperatures we also got 20cm (8Inch) of snow, which as of this morning was blowing across the highway, causing visibility problems. On my way to the city this morning I haven’t seen a single snowplow and city traffic is following ruts in deep snow. While Bea still has to make her way through to the other side of Edmonton, I have the day off. Luckily we decided to purchase new winter tires for her van, otherwise there would have been no way to negotiate through the snow.
snow Edmonton001
Alberta has been awakened to the new year in the most shocking way. Two multiple murders occurred, one in Edmonton, the other in Calgary, each with 7 people killed. It is hard to fathom what’s going on in our society.
snow Edmonton002
Many of these kind of incidents seem to have their roots in social problems, others happen in crime related environments. Some problems seem to have been imported with immigrants from other countries as they have cultural roots.

We hope that YOUR new year will be peaceful and that you stay healthy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015

Hey, we did it again – sleeping into a New Year. Last time I can remember that we stayed up until midnight was actually 15 years ago. We were in some snowy hills of southern Norway way out in the boonies looking southward and seeing a few fireworks shooting up in the distance. We were facing a new century and everybody thought that the techno-computer-world would crash with terrible consequences for our entire civilization. Well we all know that this doom and gloom scenario never became reality. The world continued to exist happily ever after.
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Of course, on a day like this we think of our friends who are way down south in the Desert South-West. We miss their company and think longingly of all the good times we had with them. While January 1 2015 is an extremely warm day in and around Edmonton, we see that morning temperatures in the southern parts of California and Arizona are not so different of what we are having right here. In fact, it was above the freezing mark this morning. Naturally, we will not have a significant warm-up during the day. Temps will stay around the same level all day long.
DSC_0431Long-time Albertans I have spoken to say that this winter marks itself as an unusual mild version  so far.

This month will be our last month living in our trailer this winter as we will move into a house on January 17. We are looking forward to this, even though there have been very small problems with staying in the trailer.
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Many of our neighbours seem to have left their trailers and gone home for the holidays. Some of the rigs have not been in use for weeks.

My back problem has all but disappeared. It seems that the continuous work has helped to mitigate the pain.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Best wishes for 2015 and thanks for keeping up with this blog.

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