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Monthly Archives: January 2012

TODAY’S THEME………………….PRIMITIVE

I called this theme primitive because it is certainly one of the earliest known means of travel in winter. Europeans produced sophisticated skis before 6000 B.C.

The snowshoe was however largely ignored in most European countries and it was not developed to it’s present state until about 1600 in Quebec and introduced to Europe by Samuel De Champlain in the early 1600’s.

Up to that time European snowshoes were small and short …not much larger than the shoe itself.

The word snowshoe is an English word while the original word was Raquette….roughly translated as racket or what we would call today a Tennis racket as it’s shape suggested in the game in the 1600’s.

They were long used by the Eastern Canadian Indians and although the Indian name has been lost I grew up calling them beavertails.

The original ones were often more than 7 feet long.

I’m lucky enough to own 3 pair.

The oldest was handmade by a French Canadian ½ Indian who sold them to me many years ago.

These are more than 1 metre long….about 44 or 45 inches.

They are traditionally made of birch cut green and catgut…what that is I’m not sure but it looks a lot like rawhide that has been softened and twisted into shape.

The second pair I purchased 5 or so years ago and were made by a Canadian company for the U.S. Army in the 1960’s.

These are VERY highly curved upwards in the front and longer by at least another 6 inches than the wooden ones making them over 4 feet long.

The construction is unique as it is supposed to be free of ‘sticking’ to the snow.

The frames are made of a very lightweight ( and expensive ) material called magnesium.

It is in a sort of ‘H’ channel for a high strength/weight ratio.

The webbing is plastic coated aircraft grade braided stainless steel wire but they came with no harness so I use the old leather one that I bought with my wood ones.

The newest ones ( and incidentally the one I use most often ) is the modern one which is quite short and in a pattern called a Modified Bear paw from it’s shape. They are made of Aluminum and plastic with a built-in harness.

It doesn’t support as much weight but it is MUCH shorter and thus easier to maneuver through ‘messy’ bush.

I have seen but not used much longer and thinner ones ( 5 feet or longer ) used by trappers still today in the bush.

Not sure it will be of any interest but here are the approximate dimensions of them.

Wooden ones …Beavertail design……….44 long…15 wide…….Weight about 4 Lbs

Magnesium ones………………………………50 long…12 wide…….Weight about 4 ¼ Lbs

Modern Modified Bearpaw………………..30 long…8 wide………Weight about 5 Lbs

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME………………..NIGHT

I took this picture the other DAY on my daily walk with the dogs down my bush road path.

The snow is getting deeper and it’s getting a little harder walking in boots but until my sister and her husband come for their weekly walk in the woods with me I’m a little hesitant to go on snowshoes.

It’s not that I don’t like snowshoes….I do but going alone for the first few times can be quite a bit of work and with 3 people taking turns breaking trail it is decidedly easier.

Once out and back with 3 people is equivalent to 6 trips alone so it will make my daily walk quite a bit easier after.

In any case they are supposed to be coming down tomorrow so perhaps I’ll find a way to post pictures of out snowshoe adventures and our snowshoes….mine anyway.

Also factored in is the reality that the dogs, however much I enjoy having them with me and how much their presence on the trail makes it easier when I’m walking, when you snowshoe their tracks make a bit of a mess of the trail so the sooner it is packed…the better.

The first picture is almost unprocessed except for some downsizing and cropping.

The second is done with Topaz and is replicating a night scene.

I like it as it really is quite dramatic…..maybe I’ll go out late one night and see if it’s the same.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME……………………REST

Today’s theme was decided after watching my two dogs approach resting….each in their own unique way.

Jack, even though he is at least 11 or 12 years old ENJOYS the cold and actually prefers it outside.

He comes in to eat and socialize with us and will stay in when it’s VERY cold but there’s little doubt that he MUCH prefers to be outside.

When he wants out he comes and pesters us walking back and forth between the front door and wherever you are until you let him out.

Wally on the other hand, despite his young age and although he too seems to love it outdoors STILL prefers to rest indoors.

These two pictures were taken I think on the same day but it doesn’t really matter….it has become a regular routine and I can almost always count on each of them resting at their preferred location.

Jack is outside the deck at the edge of the pool up on the remnants of the old woodpile where he can both see what is going on around him…in Jack’s world outside AND keep an eye on the inside of the house in case anything exciting happens.

As it faces south he is warm and a scant 10 feet from Wally but DEGREES away!

Wally, on the other hand has ‘adopted’ a pair of old party pizza pans we ‘liberated’ from out old pizza shop which I use as a temporary boot tray when I go out the sliding door to get more wood .

Wally likes to eat….AND he’s VERY dedicated to it and if Jack finds something worth eating or chewing on Wally is immediately jealous and wants it thus his location allows HIM to keep an eye on Jack and HIS activities AND keep warm in HIS south-facing sliding door.

Even though they measure a scant 15 X 21 he somehow fits his body unto them in a way that despite their being aluminum, looks comfortable…well….almost.

As we used to say ….”Different strokes for different folks”.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME……………Stop Sign

I’m not certain you will be able to recognize it but these stop signs are EXCLUSIVELY for the snow machine trails and by the way….they might be a tad blurry….I took them in a tiny snowstorm.

They are posted where trails cross ANY road AND where trails form an intersection in the bush.

There are THOUSANDS of kilometers of trails up here in winter created and maintained by an organization run by and for the snowmobile enthusiasts.

I used to have one but skyrocketing costs of both trail passes and fuel made it less than worthwhile and I opted for a quad at about the same price and NO trail cost at all……….AND I’m street legal if I wear a helmet on secondary roads.

There used to be LOTS of people from the south that came up here in winter exclusively to use the trail systems.

In years gone by ( the dirty old times ) we used to have trails going essentially from bar to bar….ALL through the woods in order to stay off the streets even though you are quasi-legal up here on small town streets.

I think the main attraction however used to be getting pleanty of anti-freeze inside you and staying out of the reach of the law.

Today these trails don’t JUST go from bar to bar AND they are fairly well patrolled by the cops so although we can expect the usual number of accidents and fatalities they are MUCH less than they used to be.

This trail cuts across a Provincial highway but they are not allowed to cross MAJOR highways.

In reality most sled drivers PREFER to avoid highways where they might encounter faster and heavier vehicles.

The most popular ‘run’ of trail however is, and will probably always be….open lakes where these new high-powered machines can open up and travel at an astounding 110 M.P.H. or approximately 175 K.P.H.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME………………..Conspicuous

I took these pictures both today and yesterday.

We have found ourselves inundated with birds now that the snow has arrived and it is somewhat cooler than it was.

Naturally Blue Jays are here…they are very hardy and LOVE most of the seeds although it’s obvious the sunflower are their favorite.

Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, Finches and the odd blackbird are usually here but amongst the large number of regulars we saw,BUT  for the first time since the fall some Pine Grosbeaks.

I have included 3 pictures so you can see their plump attractive shape and their vibrant colour….the male, as usual is the more striking of the two in an effort to attract the most desirable female.

Apparently it works as there were 3 or 4 pairs at the feeders.

We also have the black,red and white variety of Grosbeak called a rose breasted Grosbeak and a yellow one called an evening Grosbeak  but they don’t seem to be here this winter yet.

We’re delighted to have them as they add a definite splash of colour to the otherwise monochrome world up here in winter.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME………………….Adolescence…….mine!

No Ron, I’m NOT entering my ‘second’ childhood….just a spate of techno-reminiscing.

I selected today’s theme as it pertained to my OWN adolescence since both my boys are beyond that and my grandkids are not even close.

These pictures are from a very naive and innocent time in my life when friends and photography were ALL that mattered…..well….almost anyway.

I had just purchased my very first SLR after a childhood filled with Kodak Brownies and Starmites.

My very first camera was in fact a box camera I purchased at a White Elephant Sale ( as they were called then ) in a church basement predating garage and yard sales by several decades, and took 620 film rather than the more popular 127 most others took.

I’m sure I paid no more than 5 cents.

I had never even heard of SLR and my knowledge of cameras beyond my experience was limited to my dad’s 35 mm Kodak.

The first picture is me ( aged 16 or 17 ) with my then new to me ( but already 15 year old Topcon ), an astounding camera was EASILY the quality of either Canon and Nikon and in fact was the official camera of the U.S. Navy post WW2 for many years.

Gradually, with the help of a photog friend who was attending a College specifically for a photography degree, I learned at night and on the weekends what he had learned the week before and eventually we rented a small apartment and set up a darkroom.

Long story shorter YEARS later, after developing and printing MANY, MANY boxes of 8 X 10’s I loaned ALL my prints to my sister, an artist , so she could use them for some paintings. 2 days later her house burned to the ground and I lost ALL the prints.

2 years ago my wife bought me a do-dad that turns B/W or colour negs or slides into JPGs and I was able to view HUNDREDS of pictures both lost since then or developed but never printed.

These are the results recovered from those negatives…..happily I lost only the prints.

The next 2 pictures are of me ( way cool at the time ) in a suit jacket 20 years out of style even then ( I was completely unaware of it though )….BTW cool meant NOTHING on underneath the suit jacket!

I hope this post will trigger a memory of your past and bring a smile to your face.

This post was inspired by Tammy’s picture of her wedding….I figured if she could do it then so could I and I encourage everyone to hit the retro button and let’s see some of the old YOU!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

TODAY’S THEME……………Friends. The Continuing Adventures of Jack ‘N Wally.

First there was the Trojan wars….with the siege of Troy 1190 B.C. and the famous wooden horse ploy…..seemed to work pretty well for them too.

Next in 1415 the battle of Agincourt where the English showed the French the superiority of the longbow over the crossbow, winning the battle but ultimately losing the Hundred year war and getting booted out of France and promising never to make drinkable wine.

The next major conflict was World War 2 ending with the victors buying cars from the losers and learning how to make sashimi properly.

Today is the not-so-famous battle of the bone ‘n Chicken.

The first picture shows Jack with the bone ( which has no marrow in it anymore ) and Wally with the much-desired rubber Chicken.

With a flick of the paw and a well played feint Jack ( using a lot of smoke and mirrors ), tricks Wally into ‘WANTING’ the bone and cleverly permits Wally to ‘win’ it.

Once again we see how George Santayana’s saying……”Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” is correct.

Apparently Wally is NOT a student of ancient history or has forgotten the lessons learned.

Jack does a victory roll and proudly displays his  trophy!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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