Monday, July 24, 2017

Another Utah Scan - The Cockscomb

Seems that with the way things are going, I don't get much time to write my blog or post images to my Flickr account.  When I do find a little time I find that I am playing catch up and posting stuff that has been put on the backburner.  Earlier this year I scanned all of my images from my three trips down to southern Utah.  These trips were in the fall of 2013, the spring of 2014, and the fall of 2015. I plan on working on these images and putting together some sort of book project.  But, that is a project that may have to wait for some time before I can see it to completion.  In the mean time I am selecting some of my favorite images and posting them to my on line accounts.  This particular image was taken in the spring of 2014 when the girls and I headed down to Utah over spring break.  This is a shot of the Cockscomb formation.  It is an upthrust along a fault in the earth and is clearly visible from outer space on Google Earth.  This is along the Cottonwood Canyon Road in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  This particular shot was taken on T-Max 400 film with a 110mm lens with my Ebony 4x5 view camera.  The film was given normal development in T-Max developer, diluted 1:4 and processed for 7:45 minutes at 24C.

Summer Hockey

I haven't reported much about my Renegades Hockey Team this summer.... mostly because we aren't doing all that well.  The regular season just came to an end a few days ago and we finished with a record of 6 wins, 11 loses and 2 overtime losses.  We had a total of 77 goals for and 116 against, with 140 penalty minutes.  This put us solidly in 7th place, out of 8 teams.  Only a team called the Turning Point finished with a record worse than ours.  Of the six wins, two were against the Turning Point, and two were against the Raccoons.  The Raccoons finished just barely ahead of us in 6th place.  We had one win early in the season against a team called the Ice Dogs, who finished in the top three.  We also had a win against a team called the Rhinos, that got moved down out of the division.
Needless to say our hopes weren't all that high when the playoffs got underway last Thursday.  We were starting a best of three series against the second place team called the Edmonton Capitals.  But, we played a solid game and had a 3-0 lead going into the third period.  The Capitals were getting frustrated and started taking some penalties.  With two of their guys in the box, and nine minutes left on the clock a big brawl broke out.  Two guys on each team ended up getting ejected with misconduct penalties and suspensions.  We ran out of ice time and the clock switched to run time as the officials sorted out the mess.  By the time they dropped the puck there was less than two minutes left and we coasted to victory.  
It's highly likely that game two, which will be played tomorrow night, will be a rough and physical affair.  We are ready for it and hope to take another winning streak into the playoffs, like we did in the spring when we won the winter season.  Stay tuned.....

Sunday Drive

After having worked so much the last little while and this past week in particular, I took Sunday off.  The girls were busy with a bunch of stuff of their own so I set out on an afternoon drive.  It has been a long time since I did any photography.  The last time I exposed a sheet of film was in early June, when Margarit and I met up with Chris and Connie in Viking.  I'm rusty and out of practice, not only with the equipment but also with my eye for seeing compositions.
I slept in on Sunday, and then set out around lunch time.  As has been my routine in the past, I traveled east of the city, through Elk Island National Park, and up into Lamont County.  My first stop was along Limestone Creek and a set up to photograph an old abandoned house.  It was nothing spectacular, just a chance to get back into practice.
I was standing on the side of the road, with my camera on the tripod.  I was fiddling around with a couple of filters... a red one for contrast, and a graduated filter to try and hold down the sky.  Suddenly there was a distant hum that quickly became louder and louder.  I found myself swarmed by thousands of honey bees.  They weren't aggressive, and weren't attempting to even land on me, but there were literally thousands of them flying around me and my truck and the hum in the air was very loud.  Eventually they moved on and congregated around a clump of willows that were a short distance up the road.  I didn't want to aggravate them so I left them alone but perhaps they had a hive somewhere nearby.  I attempted to get a couple photographs of the swarm with my digital camera but what I got didn't really do justice to the spectacle I had just witnessed.
I spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the county and made several stops at various other abandoned buildings.  I did a total of five setups with my big camera and exposed about a dozen sheets of film.  It was very refreshing to put work out of my mind and focus, no pun intended, on something completely different.  Hopefully the situation at work will continue to be resolved and I can find a little more time for myself.
As I headed back into the city in the early evening there was a big thunderstorm developing in the west.  Lots of lightning, and the storm from was pretty impressive, but fortunately it didn't amount to anything more than heavy rain.  I tried to take a snapshot out the front windshield of the truck as I was driving but it really doesn't do it justice.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

More Construction Snapshots

Here are a couple more images taken last weekend up at Nordegg.  In the meantime our contractor has since installed the septic tank and is working on sealing the foundation, installing the weeping tile, and backfilling.  We didn't make it out to Nordegg this weekend...
My days have been full and I'm starting to get burned out.  Except for a couple of evenings that I had hockey games, I've been working 11 to 12 hour days.  I get in to the office around 8:00AM and I usually don't leave until 7:00 or 8:00 in the evening.  My employee and colleague in the office resigned unexpectedly from his position in early June.  It has been a scramble for me to keep my head above water ever since.  I recently hired a replacement but find that I need to spend long hours in the office to do my job, my former employees job, and to train the new staff.  It seems there is very little appreciation and support from my business partners and like so many other things, this is left to me.  I went in to work on Saturday and was in the office from 8:00AM until about 5:30PM.  I did manage to sort out all of the old accounting issues that my former employee had been working on.  With that off my plate I can now focus on bringing the current book keeping up to date, and got a good start on that on Saturday.  
I took Sunday off, and actually went out for a drive with my camera in the afternoon.  I found that very refreshing and relaxing and need to try to back away from work in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Construction Site

Before leaving Nordegg last weekend I took this panoramic shot of our construction site.  At the far left is the excavation that has been prepared for our septic tank.  Beside that is the foundation of our cottage, consisting of reinforced concrete in insulated blocks.  Fifteen feet further to the right is the footing for our new garage.  The two big wood piles of logs that remain to be split and stacked are visible in the background, and to the right.  A wall tent belonging to our neighbor Daniel is visible behind the left wood pile.  And at the far left of the frame is our temporary power panel.  Things are coming along nicely.  By the time we are able to get back out again, in early August, we are hopeful that framing of the new cottage is underway.

More Visitors

Hailey and I were out to Nordegg last weekend.  We took the trailer along and stayed overnight.  On Saturday evening we had a fire, and since not many neighbors were around, we blasted some music into the night.  Our friend and neighbor Shelly was out at their nearby property with her daughter Amy, and her brother Howie and his daughters.  The older generation appreciated my music selection but the younger girls did not.  I pulled the card from my game camera and downloaded all the photos of the coming and going.  I have lots of shots of pickup trucks, passing traffic, construction workers, cement trucks and the like.  Mixed in amongst all those shots were these two...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Another Day Trip to Nordegg

On Sunday July 9th Hailey and I took another trip out to Nordegg.  This time around we got a relatively early start and were on the road by around 8:00AM.  This put us out in Nordegg well before lunch.  I had spent the day prior pre-fabricating many of the pieces for our out building.  We stopped at our property and unloaded everything.  Once that was finished we headed over to the storage facility where we now park our ATV.  We pulled it out of the storage building and Hailey drove it back over to our property.  This is a drive of a few miles so this took a bit of time.
I then proceeded to put together for our outbuilding.  There were four walls that I had pre-built back home.  These were lined with 1/4" pre-painted plywood.  I assembled these on the base that I had set up a couple of weeks ago.  These wall panels were screwed together on the corners and screwed down to the base.  Later I sheeted the exterior of the walls with precut panels of 1/2" plywood that were clad with 26 ga. galvanized sheet metal.  This was followed by some aluminum angle extrusions at the corners and around the door opening.  Finally a pyramid shaped skylight was mounted on top to create the roof.  I still need to make a door and next time we come out I will finish this project off.  Officially it is a smoke house....
In between all this Hailey rode around a bit on the ATV.  We also took a break and went into town for lunch.  We stopped at the restaurant at the Nordegg Lodge.  It was really hot all day long with temperatures approaching 30C.  It was also very humid, and the air was hazy with smoke from numerous forest fires that were burning in the interior of British Columbia.  I guzzled down a lot of iced tea during that lunch and just couldn't seem to quench my thirst.
The forms that were set a week ago for the footings of our cottage have now been poured.  The forms have been stripped away.  The ICF insulated foam blocks that will become the forms for our concrete foundation walls have been delivered to site and are ready to be assembled.  In the upcoming week or two our contractor will be setting these forms and pouring the foundation.  This will be followed by installation of the water storage cistern and the sewage holding tank.  After that we will await the arrival of the framing crew to begin building the cottage.
It was somewhat quiet around the subdivision this weekend, in comparison to the July long weekend a week prior.  A few neighbors were around, but not all that many.  Late in the afternoon, once we had finished up, we loaded some of the construction waste into the ATV and hauled it over to the nearby town burn site.  Then we took the ATV back up to the storage compound in the Industrial Park.  After we put it away we noticed a herd of wild horses not far away.  There are numerous herds in the area and we saw several of them when we were out during the winter months.  This was the first time we had seen them in a while.  They were pretty skittish and got spooked when Hailey tried to approach them.

This is a shot taken from the Forestry Trunk Road right up by the Industrial Park.  The knob on the left is Baldy [Shunda] Mountain.  There is a road up to the top, and a fire lookup at the peak.  We haven't had a chance to drive up there yet.  I'm told that it is gated part way up, but that ATV's can go around the gate and drive to the summit.  Yet another destination that we need to check out.  The large mountain in the center of the image is Coliseum Mountain.  It rises to an elevation of nearly 7000 feet.  This mountain is immediately behind our subdivision and the lots rise up onto the lower flanks.  Our property would be near the center of this image, slightly to the right.  If there weren't so many trees in the way you would be able to see some of the building from here... but we like it secluded, private and unknown.

After putting away the ATV, we packed up and headed for home.  It was around 6:00PM when we hit the road for the three hour drive back to the city.  We followed some large thunderstorms all the way home.  We saw lightning in the distance, and the roads were wet, but we never actually got rained on.  We made a brief side trip near Wetaskiwin, over to the mineral rights holdings owned by our extended family group of aunts, uncles and cousins.  I was the spokesman for our family group when we negotiated a mineral rights lease last winter.  A well was drill on our holdings, but as it extends beyond our interests horizontally, we are probably not entitled to any royalty from this well.  There is a pumpjack there that is producing so we are hopeful that additional wells might be drilled.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Another One from the recent batch of Acros...

This is another image from the recently processed batch of Acros 100 4" x 5".  This was also taken during our visit out to the Viking area to tour a private collection of mostly Ford vehicles.  Not sure how Mike would feel about me including a Chevy in the foreground of this image.


A few weeks back I set up my game camera at our property out in Nordegg.  Mostly it was as a security measure, to keep track of the comings and goings at our lot.  There is really nothing there to steal right now, other than a little firewood, but as construction ramps up, there will be more and more materials and equipment out there.  The situation is somewhat improved over last year.  Back then we had no neighbors within sight of our property and were pretty much all on our own.  Now all of the lots around us have sold and there is one cottage already up and finished on the exterior, about 4 lots to the west of us.  In addition to that there are two other cottages under construction.  They are both two lots away; one to the east and one to the west.  We also have a next door neighbor who has put up a storage shed and started to do some site work.
My camera took over 700 photos during the past few weeks.  Mostly it is of the contractors coming and going.  Lots of shots of us pulling in with our vehicles, unloading our ATV, setting up our RV trailer, and splitting and stacking firewood.  We also go some shots of our neighbors using our driveway to move some stuff onto their lot.  And, almost every vehicle that drove by on the road was captured in an image.  Got some great shots of dump trucks, graders, travel trailers, quads and pickup trucks.  In among all those images was one shot of some more interesting visitors...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fresh Meat

With everything that has happened lately at work I have had very little time for my personal interests.  I made a point of escaping for a few days to relax over the long weekend.  Photographically, I have done almost nothing.  I haven't exposed a sheet of film since mid June and until recently, I hadn't been in the darkroom in ages.  On June 25th I made time to process a batch of Fuji Neopan Acros film.  This was all 4" x 5" sheet film, shot between the summer of 2016, and as recently as a few weeks ago.  I gave this batch my typical N+1/2 development in Rodinal developer, diluted 1:50.  Development was for 11:00 minutes at 24C.
This particular shot was from the recent trip out to Viking.  We visited a car collector with our friends Chris and Connie.  This old 1951 Ford Custom was in Mike's garage on his farm.  The light was incident, coming from some nearby doors.   I used a long 300mm lens to crop in tightly on the details of the front of the car.  The exposure in these low light conditions was 8 seconds at F25.0.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Canada Day 150 in Nordegg

We celebrated Canada's 150th anniversary at our property in Nordegg.  Since the official holiday fell on a Saturday, I chose to close my business for a four day long weekend.  I light of the recent issues at work, this will likely be the extent of my vacation time for the foreseeable future.  
The girls finished school on Thursday June 29th.  It was our intention to head out of town on Friday June 30th.  It didn't quite happen that way....  We had a power outage in our garage, for some yet to be determined reason.  We keep a freezer out there and as the outage wasn't noticed right away, we lost a freezer full of food.  This all happened the day before we were scheduled to leave... yet more to be heaped upon our plates....  Margarit and I were both wiped out from a week of long hours at work.  I had to head to Calgary at 5:30AM on Thursday, in order to make it to a 9:00AM jobsite meeting for a project that we are tendering.  Margarit had the morning off as she had to take Hailey to write a final exam, and then attended Anna's grade six graduation.  She made it in to work around the same time that I did, upon my return from Calgary., on Thursday afternoon.   Michele did an admiral job holding things down in our absence.  I ended up staying at work well into the evening on Thursday to try and wrap up all the loose ends before the long weekend.
We just couldn't drag ourselves out of bed at a respectable hour on Friday.  We took a much needed sleep in day and finally got mobile by about 10:00AM.  By the time we got everything packed up and hit the road for Nordegg, it was about 3:00 in the afternoon.  We finally arrived at our property out in Nordegg in the early evening.  Our development permit, building permit, and electrical permit are all now in place.  A temporary power panel was hooked up on the property on Thursday.  We now can plug in our trailer when we stay at the property.  This also provides power for the construction of our buildings.
Site clearing and excavation were completed some time ago.  Our contractor has just completed setting the forms for the footings for our new cottage.  In fact, a couple of his guys worked on Monday to finish up the rebar in advance of the concrete pour that is scheduled for Tuesday.
We rented a 27 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter on Saturday and Margarit and I spent the better part of the day splitting a pile of logs that were stacked near the entrance to our driveway.  These were mostly last years logs, from the clearing that was undertaken to put in our driveway and electrical supply.  Our contractor brought in a processor that cut up all the trees to stove length logs.  We split all the ones that were along our driveway, but there are two big piles of logs remaining, all from the clearing of our building site.  We will rent the log splitter again on a least a couple more occasions, to clean up these piles as well.  For now we have s stack of split firewood that is approx. 6 feet wide, 12 feet long and 5 feet high.  We will leave this to season, and will use it both for outdoor campfires, and in the future to heat our cottage.
Almost all of the lots on the upper side of Tamarack Trail are now sold.  Since we purchased ours almost a year ago to the day, ten or eleven more have sold.  We now have a number of new neighbors, and are no longer all alone at our end of the subdivision.  Two doors west of us a family from Sylvan Lake bought a lot in January and already have their foundation in and cabin framed up.  Our next door neighbors to the west have not started anything on their property yet.  To the east of us, we met our new neighbor Daniel.  He was out for the weekend with some friends, and his two large dogs... Fezzik, a border collie cross and Seamus, a big Burmese Mountain dog.  The girls were thrilled to heap their attention onto these two gentle canines.
After spending Saturday splitting our big pile of wood, we relaxed for the rest of the weekend.  We spent some time stacking our fire wood but other than that, not a lot of work took place.  We visited with our friends Shelley and Eric who have place down the road.  And the girls went out for a bunch of ATV rides.  We actually took two vehicles out for the weekend.  I drove one of my trucks and pulled our travel trailer out to the property.  Margarit drove my second truck and pulled out a flat deck trailer that I borrowed from work [again] and we hauled out our ATV.  We made arrangements to leave the ATV at a local storage site, so that we don't have to continue to haul it back and forth.
The concrete pour of our footings is scheduled for Tuesday.  Once the concrete cures and the forms get stripped, our contractor will be setting the ICF blocks for our foundation walls.  Some of our neighbors commented that it looked like we had done a really crappy job of pouring a slab for our cabin.  In fact this was the natural limestone shelf on our lot, and our contractor was challenged to set stepped forms for our footings.  We hope to see the Insulated Contrete Walls poured later this month, and to have the framers get started soon.  It's great to see things finally kicking into gear as we are anxious to get our construction project underway.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

An old one from the first Utah trip....

I recently posted this image to my Flickr account.  This is one from the first trip down to Utah in October of 2013.  I was travelling with my friends Rob and Brad.  This shot was taken near the trail head to Wire Pass and The Wave.  It is a corral made from juniper logs.  I'm not clear whether this is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management or if it is used by the local ranchers that lease this area as grazing land for their cattle.  In any event the texture and tonality of this fence, against the rock formations, was visually intriguing.  This image was shot on Kodak Infrared film, with a #25 Red Filter.  Though I still have quite a bit of this film left in my freezer, it was discontinued many years ago with the last batches reaching their best before date in 2001.  I will continue to shoot with it as long as I get images like this....

Family Reunion

Three years ago I coordinated a family reunion with all of my cousins, as well as all of my aunts and uncles, and a few second cousins.  This was the first reunion that had been undertaken in a couple of decades.  Everyone was really enthusiastic, and the event was really well attended.  I volunteered to organize it again this year.
There are seventeen cousins in my generation, including myself and my two brothers.  Three years ago all but a couple were able to make it.  This time around the attendance was almost the same, but the enthusiasm was lacking.  My two brothers didn't make it, nor did one of my older cousins.  Everyone else showed up, but mostly just for the afternoon.  There were only two trailers that stayed overnight and the festivities were fairly short-lived.  The next generation of our kids did not show a lot of interest last time around, and even less so this time.  It was really nice to see everyone again and I'm glad that almost everyone was able to make it, but I am a little disappointed.  
We booked the Hillside Community Hall west of Westaskiwin and there were around 65 people in attendance.  We had a big BBQ and potluck and it was great to see everyone get back together.
My two surviving uncles both showed up with their wives, my aunts.  Walter and Ben are both in they nineties and amaze me with their longeviity.  Their wives Freida and Ruby were also there, as was my Mom, and my aunt Ellen.  Ellen is the last surviving triplet, born with my Dad, who passed away in late 2013, and a brother, Richard, that died as a child.  The other sibling was John, who never married and died of a brain tumor in the 1990's.  Lots of stories and memories were shared of all of the times spent getting together when we cousins were growing up.
I think we'll try to do this again at some point in the next three to five years.  Hopefully we can pump up the interest a little.  This time around only two families showed up with trailers and stayed over night and many were only able to stop by for the afternoon.  Maybe we can change things next time around.  Perhaps I am to blame for the lack of interest.  With all that has been going on in my life the last couple of weeks I just couldn't devote the time an energy to really get this outing organized.  I bailed out on getting out to the hall on the first night... Friday... and it seems that many followed suit.  The girls and I were able to get out on Saturday morning, and we stayed over until Sunday, but only my cousin Don stayed with us and everyone else headed home on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Upside Down

Wow... didn't see that coming... and now my life has been turned upside down.  Along with me for the ride is my wife, my kids, one of my business partners and his family... among others.  My colleague at work, who I hired to be my office manager about seven years ago, has really let me down.  I recently discovered that he was a closet alcoholic, who just came out of the closet.  Turns out he has been drinking heavily for quite some time, although in fairness it seemed to be mostly an after hours problem.  This has left me high and dry, and forced me to cancel my days off and vacation for the foreseeable future.  I now have to attempt to do his job, as well as mine.  It is all I can do to keep my head above water right now, despite 12+ hour days.  Just what I needed and wanted as I look to slow down towards my eventual retirement.  Margarit and my partner's wife Michele had recently signed on to do some part time work, helping out in the office.  With this situation suddenly thrust upon us they are now sharing a full time position, in addition to looking after kids and households.  It is a very stressful time for all of us.  With no solution in sight I have to try to do what is in the best interests of my company, my family and myself.  While my former employee attempts to turn his life around I have no option but to try and recruit a replacement.  Margarit and Michele will help me out in the short term and perhaps eventually drop back to the intended part time role that they signed up for.  In the mean time I am faced with doing the bulk of the work, all the while trying to train new staff to pick up the pieces.  Not exactly what I had in mind in the twilight of my working career.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Back to Nordegg

We weren't able to get away for the entire weekend this past one...  I went to the shop in the afternoon and started work on pre-fabbing the outhouse that we will set up in Nordegg.  I put the two younger girls to work doing some painting.  Then later there was a block party in our neighborhood on Saturday evening so we stayed and attended that.  A bunch of the neighbors got together and had a BBQ out on the street.  Around ten homes on our street sold in recent months or are currently for sale.  So, there are a bunch of new neighbors that we met for the first time.  After the BBQ was over and out of the way, a bunch of the kids and a few of us old guys had a big game of road hockey.  I was feeling pretty worn out and tired by the time we shut things down at dusk.
The next morning I got up early and tried to get the girls out of bed.  I finally got them all up and going by about 9:00 so that we could hit the road for Nordegg.  The ATV was pre-loaded on the flat deck trailer at the shop so we slipped over there to hook it up.  This time all the girls were coming along so we had a full truck.  We were on the road by 10:30AM and arrived in Nordegg at around 1:30PM.  It was Father's Day and the girls presented me with a card.  They respected my wish of no gifts.  After the formalities, we un-loaded the ATV and set to work on a few chores.  The trampoline was set up again, just like last summer.  The girls were all over it from the minute it was ready to go.  Then I set about finding a spot and digging a hole for our outhouse.  Much like the rest of our property it was very rocky and I was only able to get down to a depth of about 1-1/2 feet.  Should be good enough for the occasional use that this building will see.  I put the base in place, levelled it and backfilled around it.  The rest of the afternoon was spent just riding around on the ATV and going for a couple of short walks.  The two older girls both took turns driving and both were pretty careful.  By later afternoon we had to pack things up and head for home.  We left Nordegg about 6:30PM, made a stop in Rocky Mountain House for fuel and something to eat, dropped the trailer and ATV off at the shop, and made it home by about 10:30PM.  A long busy day but lots of fun.