B’airing witness

We left Vancouver in a haze of smoke; an appropriate reminder for us city folk of the trial facing the rest of the province. Driving north I expected the smoke to get thicker before it got thinner.

Just north of Hope, the smoke had an almost misty quality. Swimming in the lake it is possible to forget for a moment that the mountains are shrouded.

 

The destruction of homes in Ashcroft was a striking. In some cases there would be nothing left but concrete footings and an charred appliance surrounded by lightly burned grass. In others the vinyl siding was curled off the walls with no other damage. Between the two may lie a house that seemed untouched. A well watered lawn, in a few instances, appeared to have made the difference. The photo above shows how affected even the unburned areas are. The impacts on life in this community are not at all over.

 

This is the view from mum’s home in Kamloops. Generally the town is fairing well. Mum and my niece, Elizabeth, each had developed a bit of a cough that is likely attributable to the weeks of ash laden air. The car was sprinkled with white particles by morning. We skipped all of our planned hikes, walks, and anything that might make our breathing quicker or deeper.

 

Climbing the hill out of Little Fort saw some minor improvements as we gained altitude. The views were not at all what I am used to in these parts.

 

Steven and I once lost the box liner from a pickup truck on this stretch of road between Hunnermile and Williams Lake. No hope of finding it today.

 

Near Quesnel the air finally cleared. We camped for the night at Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park. The clean air triggered some full magnitude in-and-exhales. The stars and moon were beautiful and sleep was sound.

 

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Day three – sunset over the Fraser

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Day two – so many blueb’s

Today’s delightful obligation has been the collection and consumption of sugar packaged in oblate spheroids.

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The experience was complemented by relaxing with friends on a hot day.

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Searching for crayfish using toes for bait is a thrill not for the feint of heart.

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Day one – the birds and the beers

Today I begin 8 weeks of leave from employment. The transition last night was stark as my mind was suddenly ready to let go of things related to building robots. The space rapidly filled with a host of planning that would probably have been best done before my time off began. My version of this adventure is clearly destined to operate on a more in-the-moment style of logistical execution.

Holiday-one began in the garden chez Gail and Doug. After a delicious breakfast I found time to sit in the sun and enjoy a bit of quiet reflection among the plants and critters nearby.


The hummingbirds seemed pleased to commune with me and I welcomed their company.

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Cheeks… as insulation?

Maybe the brain is near the mouth as a means to temperature control. If my brain is feeling cold I crave warm tea, maybe not just for my belly but also to rapidly warm my skull goo. If my brain gets too warm I start panting like a beast and slosh my mouth with the cold drink I am having. The upper and lower jaw obviously need skin to avoid dinner time embarrassment but plain old skin has a terrible r-factor. Perhaps my cheeks have adapted to be insulation!

Wow. It’s probably bullshit, but I convinced me about it.

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instructions for cukes that want to be pickles

The first step to pickling cukes is stoke. A full measure is best.

Step two is ordering 2.27 kg of cukes from Pitchfork Organic Farm. Ensure they will fit into a jar.

excitement level is rising

excitement level is rising

Step three: have a recipe e-mailed to you via the internet.

Fourth step is to convert the recipe to the language of science. Aka, metric units. Mostly to be obstinate. But it turns out this is useful later when doing science becomes essential.

2.27 kg pickling cucumbers
16 garlic cloves
a large bunch of dill
1000 ml water
667 ml pickling vinegar
83 ml coarse salt

Step five, find “pickling vinegar” at the shop. Note that the difference is that regular white vinegar is 5% acetic acid whereas pickling vinegar is 7%. Examine all products available. Carry the selection to the checkout, pay, and bicycle it home.

Step sucks is to find out you have accidentally purchased the 5% shit. Get frustrated. Pout. Have a beer. Chill out. Go to a different store. With beer.

Step possibly-moving-forward is to discover only weak (4%) rice vinegar and also a curious bottle of pale yellow liquid labeled entirely in Czech and Slovak. Discover those are different languages and note you understand neither. The bottle has the number 8% on the front and the shop keeper offers assurance that it is vinegar special-ordered for a european customer keen on pickling. Fancy europickles anyone?

ocet: the Czech word for vinegar

ocet: Czech vinegar code I hope

Step definitely-getting-better: pour another beer.

Step slow is to use google translate for half an hour to figure out what the heck this stuff is. Key words unlocked include: fermentation, traditional, vinegar, drinking water, and food dye E150c. The food dye seems harmless, if not ideal, so the project moves forward.

Step science-is-awesome: titrate 8% acetic acid (vinegar) down to 7%.

Step six is to mix the liquids and get it hot! Also boil water to sterilize jars and lids.

The seventh step is to peel many garlics from the garden. This is fun because garlic is rad. Also assemble the dill.

garlics!

garlics!

dills!

dills!

Step next is to add some garlic and dill to each jar. Also stuff in as many cukes as possible because, apparently, they shrink once they cool. Been there.

Step now it is time to boil the jars of stuff for ten minutes. Start that happening. Once the water gets scalding hot realise you have forgotten to add salt to the “brine”. Remove hot jars from the water, open them, divvy up the salt, close the jars, and return them to the hot water. Once it has boiled for ten minutes remove them and compare to unboiled jars.

the sealed ones have already changed to the colour known as pickle!

the sealed ones have already changed to the colour of pickles!

Step patience is to wait four weeks before eating.

Step reflection is to realise that you could have reversed that fancy titration move you were so happy about to modify the recipe for the original vinegar you mistakenly bought.

Original:
1000 ml water
667 ml vinegar (7%)

My version:
1083 ml water
583 ml vinegar (8%)

Easier version:
733 ml water
933 ml vinegar (5%)

All three result in a vinegar potency of 2.8%.

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urban green space

I’m not sure why these moments of irony intrigue me… but they seem to.

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I assume this was part of a bicycle theft. Lesson: locking to trees is risky.

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I assume this is what happens if you haven’t the proper altitude permits.

It would benefit me greatly if the city of Toronto offered interpretive signage for tourists in these city parks.

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