St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
No, I'm not about to share a secret with you. That is the sound of me taking an Air Brake training course, this weekend. The Fire Department's new tanker truck will have air brakes on it, so all members of the department will have to get air brakes endorsements for their driver's licenses. Our department's air brake training is planned for early May. However, the Qualicum Beach Fire Department, a few miles down the coast of Vancouver Island, had scheduled a course for this weekend, but didn't have enough people signed up to let it go ahead. They needed a couple of bodies to fill up their course, so another officer and I volunteered to go.
I had assumed that it would be a really simple course "crammed" into an excessive amount of time, but I was surprised at the amount of material you have to learn. Air brakes are complicated things. It really did take all weekend - Friday night, all day Saturday, and most of Sunday.
In addition to having to learn about all the components and how they fit together, there was a substantial practical element to the course in which we had to memorize a lengthy pre-trip inspection procedure. I passed the practical test - being a former pilot has advantages when it comes to memorizing checklists - so all I have to do now is take the knowledge test at the provincial government office in town and I will be all set to drive the tanker, which is expected to arrive in late April or early May.
As an additional benefit, now I know what truckers are doing when they stop at the top of a steep downhill grade.
It has been a cool and showery week. There are more daffodils out every day, around the island, but the majority of them are still waiting for some warm, sunny weather to open. Some of the flowering trees and shrubs are starting to put on good displays this week.
We have replaced several more of the garden walkways with new wood chips, and it is starting to look quite spiffy. I have planted spinach, lettuce, chard and carrots.
Wendy is away in Nova Scotia this week, visiting her parents, so I am fending for myself. Fortunately, I am not totally incompetent in the kitchen, and, even more fortunately, Wendy left several meals in the freezer, so I should manage nutritionally, anyway. I miss her already. The cats do too; they have not figured out where their mommy went.
The weather this week has warmed up considerably. Our daffodils are still dormant after the unseasonably cold March, but I am expecting a flurry of blossoms shortly.
The salmonberries are now flowering, and this is what the hummingbirds have been waiting for. We have seen one or two hummers around for over a week, now, but suddenly there are a lot of them. This evening, at supper time, there was a major Battle of Britain re-enactment at the feeder, with hummingbirds zooming every direction. They are very territorial, with each hummer thinking that the feeder it its own private food supply and taking on all comers. Nevertheless, they occasionally tolerated each other on the feeder at the same time.
With the warmer weather, I have been able to get a lot of outdoor work done. The never-ending deck project is actually nearing completion. I was able to get the footings installed, the main support beam built, the joists laid, and the steps built. In the next day or two, I will get the deck boards installed. At that point, phase three of the deck will be complete. The remaining work will consist of railings and the glass roof over the side walkway. That will be a lot simpler, since the entire structure at that point will be above ground. The biggest part of any construction job is simply getting it out of the hole and above ground level.
Other than that, it has been a quiet week.
Hmmm. There really isn't a lot to report this week.
I finished the deck construction by laying the deck boards and driving several hundred screws. It actually looks the way it was intended to look! Hooray! Of course, there are still a few finishing details...
I have also been puttering in the garden, weeding, mulching, chipping more branches to make pathways. I planted a bunch of potatoes: five rows. There is a row of tiny romaine lettuce plants already above ground.
The daffodils are finally flowering en masse. With the cool weather we have been having, it sure took them long enough! Still, they look pretty good now.
Speaking of weather, I see that they had a three-day snowfall in Alberta. I really shouldn't gloat. After all, we had a flurry here yesterday morning. It took until 10:00 in the morning for it to melt!
Wendy is due back from Nova Scotia on Wednesday. Not a moment too soon. I've missed her!
This week's main event was that Wendy returned home from visiting her parents in Nova Scotia. It took her a few days, but she has recovered from her jet lag and is back in our time zone. I was sure glad to have her back!
The cats were happy to have her back, too. While she was away, they treated me with suspicion, as though I were responsible in some nefarious way for her disappearance. They are much more relaxed now. By the way, the paper bags in the photo are supposed to be there: they are among the kitties' favourite toys.
The hummingbirds are drinking like crazy from their feeder. Last week, I already upgraded them from the small feeder to a larger one, because I was having to refill the small one every day. This week, Wendy has put out two large ones, and they are both being used a lot. Perhaps they have baby hummers to feed already.
Another bird certainly has babies already. I found this robin's egg shell on our lawn. The parents apparently take the eggshells a distance away from the nest so as not to give away the location of their nest to predators.
I have been continuing to get the garden in shape for the season. I got the strawberries weeded and mulched and dug some horse manure in around the rhubarb. It is really doing well, as you can see. I also set out soaker hose in several of the beds. I eventually want to install soaker hose in all the beds on a seasonally-permanent basis. It is a very economical way to irrigate crops, and the permanent installation means less injury to the plants.
The major community event of the week was the Fire Department's biennial auction, held today. People donate their unwanted stuff, and the proceeds go towards the Fire Department, the Sports Field, and Emergency Social Services. The Fire Department is tax-supported, but fundraising allows us to spend some money on non-tax-supportable projects like bursaries for students, as well as purchasing additional equipment above the budgeted amount. This year, the money will be used for new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs). It is too early to tell how much money we raised, but the auction appeared to be very successful.
Someone donated a brand new kid's pedal car finished in fire department trim, complete with bell, red light and the words "Volunteer Fire Department" on the side. Needless to say, the Fire Department members chipped in to buy it. It will be featured in the annual Blackberry Fair Parade, probably with the Chief pedalling!
I was outbid on an elderly ("They don't make 'em like that any more") jointer. (A jointer is a power tool for planing board edges perfectly flat.) Power tools tend to fetch good prices, so you have to set your personal limit before bidding. On the other hand, I did pick up a nice exercise machine for $5.
This coming Tuesday is the final concert in the Concerts Denman season. The term "concert" is applied a bit loosely in this case, since it features stand-up comedian Lorne Elliott. It is sure to be good.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 6-May-2013