Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Framing Continues

My friend Brad sent me this image yesterday from Nordegg.  The framing of the upper walls of our cottage is now complete and as of yesterday afternoon the roof trusses were in the process of being put into place.  Not sure how much they'll be able to accomplish on site today as it is raining and snowing right now...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Late Summer Weekend in Nordegg

It was still late summer, and only the middle of September, but it felt very much like fall last weekend in Nordegg.  It is freezing most nights now, and the leaves are turning color.  We took two trucks out on Saturday so that we could bring the trailer, and a bunch of construction supplies.  Margarit and the two young girls went home later that afternoon and Hailey and I stayed for the rest of the weekend.  Construction has finally got underway on our cottage and the lower floor walls were up.  I brought out a gate, which I installed on our driveway that afternoon.  I also finally put up the door on our smoke house.
My friend Rob, who did the Procession West gallery exhibitions with me, was coming out to do the electrical rough in.  Our friend Brad, who I have been out hiking with a number of times, including two trips to Utah, was also coming along to help.  They both showed up on Sunday afternoon, just before I had to head back to the city.
Earlier in the day Hailey and I went out for an afternoon ATV ride on the trails around Nordegg.  We checked out some of the usual trails, as well as a new one down to a small lake.  We saw a couple of Whiskeyjacks and a Ruffed Grouse.  We followed part of the old Rail Trail that follows the old railway line that used to haul coal from the Brazeau Collieries mine site.
We got tragic news on Sunday afternoon when Anna called.  She has been saving her money for months so that she could buy a pet rabbit.  She saved up enough to cover food and supplies and vet bills for the first year, before buying her new pet.  About a week ago she got a small dwarf bunny which she named "Loaf", after its light brown color and resemblance to a loaf of bread.  She was inseparable from that little guy and even brought him along with us to Nordegg.  But on Sunday, after they got back home, he took sick with some sort of infection and passed away within hours.  Needless to say Anna is devastated and has been grieving ever since.  As a parent it is really difficult to see my daughter so upset.  This will take a long time for her to get over....
I left the trailer at the lot this time, fully stocked with food, water and propane.  Brad and Rob are staying in it for a few days while I had to return to the city and to work.  They are going to do some hiking this week as well as work on the rough in of the electrical.  I brought along a whole bunch of tools and supplies and all the materials needed to do the job.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and the framers can finish the walls and get the trusses on so that the electrical can be roughed in.  It was raining heavily, turning to wet snow here in the city today.  But in Nordegg conditions were considerably better and the framing of the upper walls is now complete, and roof trusses have started going on.  I'll head back out next weekend and help the guys finish up, hopefully with a little extra time for some hiking and visiting.  The weather is supposed to be really lousy for a day or two, and then begin to improve.  If the framers can get those trusses up and the roof sheeted in, it won't be too bad working inside.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Lower Falls

I found this spot back in August when we were ATV riding near our property at Nordegg.  I've been back to it several times and photographed here.  This particular shot was taken on Efke PL25 film exposed at ISO 10.  I used my Schneider Symmar 135mm lens.  A red filter for contrast and an aperture of F29.0, combined with this slow film, allowed a long exposure of 1 minute to nicely blur the water.  I never get tired of shots of waterfalls and in this particular composition I like that the little cascades are going in various directions.  The film was processed in Rodinal developer, diluted 1:50, for 7:00 minutes, at 24C.  It will be interesting to return to this spot at different times of year.  In late fall when ice is starting to form, it could be quite spectacular.  In spring, when water levels are higher, I'm sure it will look very different.  I will make a point of returning to check it out on a regular basis.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A weekend at home....

For the first weekend in quite a while, we didn't go away.  Hailey and Margarit went to a show at the Winspear Theatre on Friday evening to catch Hailey's favorite band... Oh Wonder.  On Saturday I went in to work for a good part of the day.  I went in shortly after 8:00 and stayed until about 2:00.  Always get lots more accomplished when I am uninterrupted by phone calls, customers and staff.  Did a few chores around the house in the afternoon including washing the windows of the house.  In the evening Margarit and Hailey and I went to the football game.  It was the Labor Day rematch between our Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders.  After the lop-sided defeat last weekend in Calgary we were hoping for a better effort.  It was a much closer game and it came down to the final play, but our Esks came up short... 25-22.
Today I slept in before a late start catching up on some chores.  I stepped out to run a few errands, worked on reloading a whole bunch of film holders and then my Mom came over for dinner in the evening.  Tonight is the first hockey game of the winter season for the Renegades and I'm about to start packing up my gear.  Seems like the weekend was over in the blink of an eye and I have to think about getting ready for the next work week starting in the morning.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Labor Day Long Weekend

We headed back out to Nordegg on the morning of Saturday September 2nd.  As usual it was a mad scramble to wrap up the work week and get everything ready to go.  With the days getting so much shorter at this time of year we no longer try to head out on Friday evenings.  We took two trucks with us again this time so that we could bring our second ATV along for the weekend.
On Saturday afternoon we went out for an trail ride on the ATV's.  Our friends Shelley and Eric came along with us as they recently just bought a small quad.  We took them out on all the groomed ATV trails around the townsite.  These trails are continually being worked on as every weekend that I return I find that more sections of trail have been gravelled, and new trails added.  By the time we got back to the property after the ride and got supper going, it was getting late.  It was too late for us to join the annual Corn Roast that was taking place in town at the Community Hall.  Instead, we got a small fire going and sat around it for a while but ended up turning in fairly early.
It has been quite warm and dry all through the latter part of summer and on Saturday it was also quite windy.  A number of small forest fires broke out in the area and there were helicopters and water bombers flying around all weekend.  I understand that there were fires north of Baldy Mountain, near Crescent Falls and up by Whirlpool Point.  None of them were particularly close to us and I understand that they were all under control.  But it was very smoky all day Saturday and at times there was ash raining down out of the sky.
On Saturday evening we got some showers and they continued off and on through the day on Sunday.  I threw my camera into the ATV and headed out to do a little shooting up in the hills.  Also stopped by the creek and threw a line in a couple times.  The water is very low and there seemed to be little activity with the trout.  By Sunday evening the girls packed up and headed home.  They took one of the trucks and the small ATV back with them.  The girls had plans on holiday Monday, which included some preparations for the upcoming new school year.
I stayed out at the property by myself for Sunday evening and Monday.  I was awake before dawn and up at first light on Monday.  The rain had washed away most of the smoke and the skies were clear when the sun came up.  Then a heavy fog rolled in and it became very silent and closed in.  That only lasted about an hour or so before burning off and the rest of the day was sunny and warm.  I puttered around on a few things at the property.  Not much has happened on our cottage these past couple of weeks.  The backfilling of our foundation is now pretty much complete and the water storage cistern has been placed into the basement.  Other than that we are mostly just waiting for the framing crew to get started.
I met one of our new neighbors, Jess, who is clearing and building next door to our friends Shelley and Eric.  He gave me a ride back from the Industrial Park so that I could put the second ATV away in storage before packing up the trailer and heading home.  I arrived back in the city about 9:00PM just in time to unpack and prepare for the upcoming work week.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


A few milestones were reached this week....   My middle daughter Annelise turned 12 years old yesterday.  As per our usual family tradition we went out for dinner last night.  Anna chose Greek food and we went to a small family run Greek restaurant on the south side.  I'm not a huge fan of Greek but this one was pretty good.  After dinner we came home and had a family basketball game in our driveway, before heading in for some birthday cake.
A couple of other milestones were reached this week as well.  Anna started Grade 7 at Junior High School this week.  And, oldest daughter Hailey started Grade 10 at High School.  Youngest daughter Helena remains at her Elementary School and started Grade 4.
Later in the evening, after the girls had gone to bed, I went to work in the darkroom for a couple hours.  I am now two nights in to the tedious job of unloading and reloading most my 4x5 film holders.  The exposed film needs to be unloaded and separated into various boxes for later processing.  I save up batches of different kinds of film that require processing in different developers.  After the holders are all unloaded, they need to be reloaded with fresh film.  I haven't done this for quite some time and there are stacks of over 100 holders piled around my darkroom.  They are now all separated and unloaded and I've started the process of re-loading them all.  I've shot about 325 sheets of black and white film so far this year and most of the holders that were used for that are in the midst of this loading procedure.  A couple more evenings to go.....

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A little GnR

Last week, on Wednesday evening, Margarit and I went to the Guns N Roses concert at Commonwealth Stadium.  Her brother Shawn and his girlfriend Donna joined us.  Our seats were exactly opposite the season seats that we have for football... about 10 rows up on the 20 yard line.  It was a really pleasant evening and quite comfortable to be outside for a concert, despite it being the end of August.  This was one of the best concerts I've ever seen... and I've easily seen a couple hundred...!  We missed most of the warm up band... Our Lady Peace.  The logistics of getting out of work and getting to the stadium just didn't allow us to arrive for the start of the show.  
Guns N Roses got going pretty much right on time, starting their show at about 7:40PM.  They played for three hours, non-stop.  Then they walked off stage for the traditional encore and after the crowd cheered for a while they came back out and played five more songs... right up until 11:00PM, when the City noise bylaw kicks in.  It was loud, and one of the guys I work with told me he could hear the show from his place up in the Castledowns neighborhood of north Edmonton.  
Axl has once of the most unique and amazing voices in Rock.  Slash is amongst the best guitarists I've ever seen.  They played all of their own hits, plus a whole bunch of covers running the range of James Brown, Glen Campbell, Pink Floyd, The Who... and the list goes on.  Probably the most expensive concert I've ever seen, with tickets at around $300 each, but also one of the best!

More Visitors

I swapped out the memory card on my game camera when we were up at Nordegg on the weekend.  Mostly there are losts of images of the construction crew working on our property.  But mixed in between all of those were these two images...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Headstones - Efke PL25M

It was great to finally get back into the darkroom last week and process a little film.  Although it has been an extremely busy summer, and I have had very little personal time, I have still managed to do a fair bit of shooting.  My count so far for the 2017 calendar year is 318 sheets of 4" x 5" Black and White Film, and 25 sheets of color.  I also shot a few mixed sheets of 8" x 10" film earlier in the year.  I haven't really got around to shooting any roll film this year.
The batch of film that I processed last week was Efke PL25M, developed in Rodinal 1:50.  My standard development time is 7:00 minutes at 24C, with the film exposed at 10 iso.  This batch included 14 sheets, all taken in 2017.  I will be posting and sharing some of those over the next little while.  Although I completed the development last week, it took me a while to finish washing and drying the film.  I completed scanning of these negatives after Anna and I returned from our weekend down in East Coulee.
This image is of a small forgotten country cemetery up in Lamont County.  It was taken back in mid May, with a Rodenstock Grandagon-N 90mm lens and a #11 Yellow-Green filter.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Anna and Dad Weekend

This past weekend it was Anna's turn to get out with me for a one on one weekend.  With the Eskimos game on Friday night, we weren't able to leave until Saturday morning.  That football game was the worst one I have witnessed the Eskimos play since I started buying tickets.  They were totally dominated by the last place [in the west] Saskatchewan Roughriders.  I guess injuries are starting to catch up with them as they have been in record numbers this year.  But, they're going to have to pull it together if they want to make it into the playoffs.  Their first place streak of 7-0 is now gone and with two recent losses against western teams they find themselves in third place.
There was a cool looking moth on the door of my truck on Saturday morning as Anna and I prepared to leave for East Coulee.  After taking a couple of photos of it, we hit the road.  It was a relatively early start, at about 9:30AM, and this put us in the badlands just after lunch.  We spotted the trailer in the yard at our shop and got it all set up.  After unhooking the truck we prepared to head out for the afternoon.  After a brief visit with Frank, who was working at the shop, we hit the road.  I wanted to explore an old cemetery in the town of Wayne, but was unable to find it.  We drove around for a while and checked out another small cemetery at Dunphy.  After checking with my friend Chris we got directions to the one we originally wanted to find, but realized it was a rather strenuous hike up the valley from the town of Wayne.  At this point in the afternoon it was already +27C and Anna and I decided against it.
We headed back to camp in the afternoon and did a short evening hike up into the hills near East Coulee.  Then we went back to the trailer and prepared our evening meal of Fettucine Alfredo with salad.  After supper we relaxed for a while in the heat of the evening and decided to turn in early.  We tried to watch a movie on the TV in the trailer but couldn't get it to work.
It is obvious that fall will be soon upon us.  Despite the heat of the day it got rather cold overnight.  Some of the trees are already showing a tinge of fall color, and the harvest is getting underway.
We got up moderately early on Sunday and after breakfast we got going by about 9:45AM.  We wanted to get out to Wayne for the hike up to the cemetery, before it got too hot.  It was about +19C when we hit the trail around 10:30, but this day turned out to be even hotter than the day before.  By the time we returned to the truck, after our hike, about two hours later, it was already +29C.  And, it peaked at about +32C later in the afternoon.  Anna overheated a little on the hike to the cemetery but was a good sport about it.  There is not much left there... only about 10 or 12 old graves.  The site is rather overgrown and totally neglected.  Most of the grave markers are gone or deteriorated badly and in a lot of cases only the bases of the markers remain in an overgrown depression.  There were four graves left with legible markers and all of these dated to 1918 and 1922... so almost a hundred years old.
After an ice cream break in Rosedale we stopped at some old dead Cottonwoods along Willow Creek.  Normally these skeletons stand in a pond of water.  But, with the heat and local drought of this summer the pond is gone and the dead trees stand in a bed of cracked mud.  We took a photograph here before heading back to East Coulee.
This was the time of day when the temperature peaked at 32.  So we packed up the trailer, hooked up the truck and eventually headed for home.  I think it was about 4:00PM when we rolled out of East Coulee.  We made a fuel and another ice cream stop in Lacombe, and got home by around 7:30PM.
It was a great weekend and I enjoyed the one on one time with Anna.  I think she really enjoyed it too!

July Stone House

My friends Chris and Connie posted an article on their website about the stone house that we visited together back at the end of July.  Here's a link to their website and to that article.  Please check it out...!

Last week, for the first time in two months, I was finally able to get back down in the darkroom.  I processed a batch of Efke PL25M in Rodinal developer.  This image turned out somewhat grainy for some reason, rather unlike the others in the batch.  I've yet to figure out why.  This is a shot of the stone house that Chris and Connie have included on their website at the link above.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Winter Hockey

Last week I attended the captains meeting for winter hockey.  My team, the Renegades, will be playing in the beer league again this year. Lots of work left for me to do to get the roster organised.  With all the turmoil at work this summer I just haven't had much time left to devote to this and other personal stuff.  The 28 game regular season will get underway just after the Labor Day long weekend.  Its nice that the break was short after the summer playoffs as I'm anxious to get back on the ice.  Lots of payments left to collect from players to put towards the team fee of over $11,000.  Hope to find a little time this coming week to focus on that.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Feels Like Fall....

The whole family went back out to Nordegg again this past weekend.  This time around we took both trucks, so that we could bring our trailer... and the new ATV.  We headed out right after work on Friday afternoon.  It was about 6:00PM by the time we were fueled and on the highway.  This put us into Nordegg around 9:00PM.  Of course at this point in the season it is already getting dark by this time in the evening.  To make matters worse, it was also raining... rather heavily.
We backed the trailer into the driveway in the rain and quickly put down all the jacks, put out the slide, and plugged in to power.  With no opportunity to sit and relax around a fire, we all turned in early.
It was very cold, wet and muddy when I got up and went outside on Saturday morning.  But the sky was clear and the sun was coming out.  Hailey and I unloaded the new ATV from the back of the truck and rode it over to the storage yard, where we picked up our other unit.  By the time we got back with the two units it was getting partly overcast, and never did get any warmer than about +16C all weekend.  It definitely had a feel of fall in the air.  Later in the afternoon we took both ATV's out and explored a bunch of the trails around town.  Hailey and I had been on most of them before but this was the first time out for the other three girls.  By mid afternoon we headed into town and had a late lunch in the Pick and Shovel Restaurant in the Frontier Lodge.  I tried fishing a few times over the weekend but the trout just weren't rising and nothing was interested in my dry flies.  In hindsight I should have probably tried a wet fly, but I didn't have one with me.
We had an evening fire and a late supper that night and it stayed dry.  But it was very cool again over night and I suspect the the temperature probably dropped down to only +3 or +4C.  On Sunday we did a little more trail riding before getting packed up for the trip home.  We put the big ATV back into storage and loaded the little one back onto the truck.  We had to hit the road by about 2:30 so we could make it back to Edmonton in time for Margarit and I to go to a show.
It was a little frantic as we pulled up to the house and unpacked the essentials.  Margarit had a quick shower while I ran over to the shop and unloaded the ATV.  We got over to Century Park and caught the LRT to the Jubliee Auditorium at about 7:00 and arrived just in time for the start of the k.d.lang concert.  I was really impressed with her singing voice, but rather disappointed in the set list.  She had a seven piece band and they played mostly her Ingenu album from the 1990's, while ignoring all of her older stuff.  That older stuff, with more of a country twang, includes all my favorites and she didn't do any of them.
We stopped for a bite to eat after the show and got to bed about midnight.  Just in time for the start of another busy week....
Not much happened out at the property this week.  The backfilling around the foundations continued and some gravel is being spread in the crawl space.  Some conrete footings were poured for a gate.  Mostly we are just waiting for the framing crew to get started.  Sounds like that won't be until the end of the month and needless to say we are getting a little antsy.  We won't make it back out to Nordegg next weekend but hopefully when we return on the long weekend, things are getting underway.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Another ATV

Last summer I bought a new side-by-side ATV.  This was a Honda Pioneer 700-4.  It was stored at my shop through last year and we finally were able to take it out to Nordegg this past spring.  The first couple of trips we hauled it back and forth on the flat deck trailer that belongs to my company.  But,  since then we have arranged to store it at a compound in the Industrial District in Nordegg.  Eventually once the garage at our property is closed in, we will move it there.
This ATV is great and we really like it.  It seats two in the front seat, and has two additional convertible seats in the back.  We can either use the back cargo box for gear, or flip up these seats for two additional passengers.  But even at that, we can only fit in four of us... and there are five in our family.  So I recently bought a second side-by-side ATV.  This second unit is a smaller Honda Pioneer 500.  It is small enough that we can fit it in the back of my truck if we want to haul it somewhere, and don't need a trailer.  It seats two side by side, with a cargo rack on the back.  Between the two units we will now be able to go out trail riding with the entire family, and still bring along some gear... or a guest.  With all the ATV trails that we are discovering in the Nordegg area, this will be great.  We hope to take this new one out for a test drive the next time we head out there.

Back to our Second Home

Last weekend Hailey and I returned to Nordegg.  Margarit and the two younger girls chose to stay home.  As it was yet another busy week at work, with yet more long days, I slept in a bit on Saturday morning.  By the time we packed up, fuelled the truck and hit the road I think it was about 11:00AM.  This put our arrival in Nordegg at around 2:00PM.  We quickly set up the trailer and then headed over to the Industrial Park to pick up our ATV from the storage compound.  By mid afternoon we were out on the trails.  This time around we explored a bunch of trails, new to us, in the east end of the valley.
These trails are all groomed and maintained trails, devoted to off highway vehicles.  There is a steel bridge over the creek, and all the trails are gravelled.  We knew that my cousin Vic and his wife Susanne were camped in the area with some friends and we were making our way over in the general direction of where we knew they had set up camp.  We never made it that far and ran in to them out on the trails.  By late afternoon we headed off in different directions to return to our trailers for the evening.  Hailey and I headed over to the creek for a bit and I tried my luck at fly fishing again.  At first there was not much action but when I eventually returned to my favorite spot I quickly landed three little brook trout in a span of about 5 minutes.  Unfortunately none of them were quite big enough for the frying pan so they were all returned to the creek for another day.
Hailey and I built a new fire pit and sat around the fire for a while in the evening.  It was really nice to spend some time with her one on one.  We turned in moderately early... probably around 11:00PM... anxious to get back out again the next day.
After breakfast we hit the trails again in the ATV.  This time around I brought my big camera with me and we returned to a couple of spots that we had explored the day before.  I set up and shot a number of images before we eventually reconnected with Vic and Susanne.  We decided to take a drive up to Eagle Peak.  I had been up this way several times this year.  Vic hadn't been there for a number of years and Hailey hasn't seen it for a month or two.  This time around we pushed on a narrow and rough trail up to a spot that the locals call Tabletop.  It is a spot right at the crest, with a bit of a clearing, that allows a view in all directions.  Unfortunately on this day it was very smokey from a number of large forest fires burning in British Columbia and visibility was very limited.  
In addition to the smoke it was cooler, overcast, and threatening rain.  Sure enough the clouds opened up right about the time we were leaving Tabletop.  Vic and Susanne decided to book it back to their campsite that was quite some distance away.  Hailey and I were trapped in an open ATV, without a windshield or a roof, and without much in the way of heavy clothing.  By the time we made it down off the mountain and got back to the trailer we were soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone.  We cranked up the furnace in the trailer, made a warm lunch and changed into dry clothes.  A short time later the rain let up a bit and we ran the ATV back over to the storage yard.  Then we packed up and cleaned up our campsite and prepared for the long drive back home.  We left Nordegg around 5:30 and with a brief stop in Leduc to dump our holding tanks, arrived back home around 9:00.
It was a fantastic weekend and I really enjoyed it.  I remember being out with Hailey and taking photos with my big camera and thinking to myself that "this is the life".  I had completely blanked out work and all my commitments and was really enjoying the day.  That prompted me to come to a decision about my working career.  I have set myself a retirement date three years from now and this week I advised my business partners of the deadline.  They aren't really pleased about it but as I told them... I am now measuring my decisions in quality of life, not dollars, and it is time for me to plan my eventual step away.