The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘René’

Riddle Me This!

I’m starting you off with a riddle today. You can think about it while René, The Scribe and I provide you with a firewood-splitting demonstration. It’ll give those of you who know all about this activity something to ponder while those who live in non-wood-burning areas get some insight on life in the Boreal Forest.

The Riddle

How many Keewatin residents does it take to change a light bulb?

The Demonstration

I was right about René coming back to do more log-splitting. I told Elizabeth to hurry up and get her camera before he was all done, ’cause he’d only left a few great big logs to finish off.

“What are you taking pictures of?” René asked The Scribe.

“You’re giving Stella’s readers a log-splitting demonstration today.”

“Oh, I am, am I?” René doesn’t use the Internet. He didn’t have a clue about what we were going on about. But he let us take his picture. Several times!

“Make sure you get the Tampa Bay T-shirt,” he said. He isn’t a Lightning fan. Sometimes he goes to Florida in the winter to warm up. But it’s so hot there that sometimes he needs to cool off a little. So, when our hometown NHL star is in Tampa to play ice hockey with the Los Angeles Kings (or when he used to play for the Philadelphia Flyers as their captain), René goes to watch Mike Richards play. It’s almost like going home to the chill of Canada.

So, here’s our photographic firewood-splitting demo!

First, the operator must load the log onto the top of the log-splitting machine.

First, the operator must load the log onto the top of the log-splitting machine. Elizabeth calls it The Boreal Guillotine.

When the two-legger turns on the switch, that black block starts to push the log into a wedge-shaped but of metal at the other end of the splitter.

When the two-legger turns on the switch, that black block starts to push the log into a wedge-shaped bit of metal at the other end of the splitter (you can see it in the first photo).

The pressure causes the wood to split at the wedge. Sometimes on the bigger logs, like this one, the operator needs to give the machine a helping hand.

The pressure causes the wood to split at the wedge. Sometimes on the bigger logs, like this one, the operator needs to give the machine a helping hand.

After you repeat this procedure many times, your woodshed begins to look like this! Easy peasy, eh? BOL

After you repeat this procedure many times, your woodshed begins to look like this! Easy peasy, eh? BOL

The Back Story

Just as René arrived to split wood, something I’d never witnessed before was taking place in the kitchen of the two-legger house. I found Elizabeth sitting in an odd position on the floor to one side of the open oven door. She had a screwdriver in her hand, and was reaching with it into the very back upper corner of the oven. Kay came in and asked the question before I could get over my surprise.

“What on earth are you doing, Elizabeth?”

“I’m changing the light bulb. It’s burned out, and I want to make some yoghurt.” Elizabeth has found that the oven light generates just enough heat to incubate the yoghurt overnight.

“Why don’t you take the door off the oven? I think that would make it a lot easier.”

“Well, yes, it might. But then I must put it back on again.” René had just started working. “I guess if I had any trouble with it, I could ask René to help me…”

Off came the oven door. It needed to be cleaned, so Elizabeth took it outside. She took the photos for me and asked René if he would help her get the door back on if she had trouble. No problem.

First, she went to work on the light bulb. She had to take out three screws in order to remove the lens. But it was dark in the oven, and she couldn’t see very well. So, she found a flashlight and beamed it over the oven light. She got the lens off, took out the old bulb and replaced it with the new one. Then she put the lens back on and screwed its bracket back in place. No problem.

René was still splitting wood when she went out to the porch deck and started cleaning the oven door. She got it all rinsed off and carried it back inside. It’s heavy, she says. I don’t know if she’s just whining, ’cause I didn’t try to lift it. If it doesn’t fit in my mouth, I leave the lifting to the two-leggers. So, you’ll just have to take her word for it.

She lifted it up so the hinges were at their slot locations. She pushed the door back so the hinges slid into place. She shifted the door a bit, wiggled it a little, lifted it up, lowered it, closed it… The hinges just wouldn’t engage properly. The oven door would only open about ten centimeters!

Leading up to the Riddle’s Answer…

René finished splitting the wood and Elizabeth still didn’t have the oven door thing worked out. He came in to help. They took the door back off the oven. They put it on again. They lifted it. They wiggled it. They raised it. They lowered it. I growled. Nothing worked.

Kay came in and suggested they look at the oven manual. She found it and both René and Elizabeth pored over it. They both offered each other interpretations of what they found there…

They took the door back off the oven. They put it on again. They lifted it. They wiggled it. They raised it. They lowered it. I growled. Nothing worked.

René took the door outside and fiddled with the hinges. He brought it back in. They put it on again. They lifted it. They wiggled it. They raised it. They lowered it. I growled. Nothing worked.

Then Elizabeth noticed something and asked René to let her hold the door in a slightly different position. She pushed it and it clicked in place. René fiddled with a part of each hinge and finally, the door was in place and working.

The Answer to the Riddle:

The entire bulb replacing process took four Keewatin residents: three two-leggers, one canine supervisor and just over two hours!

René said, “I’m going home before you find anything more for me to do!”

Eager for an opportunity to bolster his confidence, René negotiated his All Terrain Growly Beast through a little obstacle course of rocks we have growing out of our lawn. The wood he's taking home is for a bonfire for his grandsons to roast marshmallows over. Two=legger pus like marshmallows all hot and gooey, apparently.

Eager for an opportunity to bolster his self confidence, René negotiated his All Terrain Growly Beast through a little obstacle course of rocks we have growing out of our lawn. The wood he’s taking home is for a bonfire for his grandsons to roast marshmallows over. Two-legger pups like fire-toasted marshmallows: brown and black on the outside and gooey in the middle. YUCK!

Bye, René! Thanks for all your help!

Bye, René! Thanks for all your help!

Social Networking on ‘The Estate’

It’s been a busy week here on the Campbell Estate.

With Winter just around the corner, the two-leggers have been thinking about getting prepared for colder weather. Jeff the Tree Man was here a few weeks ago, if you remember, and he left several piles of wood for winter burning. But it wasn’t enough to keep the two-legger house warm all winter. So, something had to be done!

Our old supply lines have dried up. Jeff the Tree Man knows a lady who is in the firewood business. He gave Kay the lady’s number and she said she could sell us some wood. She came with her truck, her helper/husband, the firewood, and a surprise!

Lori the Firewood Lady also brought her Scottie, Maddie! I asked her if she wanted to go for a tour of the Estate while she waited for the two-leggers to conduct their affairs...

Lori the Firewood Lady also brought her Scottie, Maddie! I asked her if she wanted to go for a tour of the Estate while she waited for the two-leggers to conduct their affairs…

We had a great time for a while, then Maddie got a bit grouchy and decided to go off on her own.

I got worried when she started heading for the river.

I got worried when she started heading for the river.

Although Maddie sort of looks like a miniature Newfoundland Dog, I hadn’t asked her if she could swim. The river is still very high, and she’s so small! I decided I’d better at least keep an eye on her, since I didn’t really seem to be able to keep up with her. Well, I could’ve if I had to… I think….

See. I told you so. I headed her off at the pass and sterred her back up the hill to where the two-leggers were working and chatting.

See. I told you so. I headed her off at the pass and steered her back up the hill to where the two-leggers were working and chatting.

That run seemed to tucker little Maddie out though. She decided it was time to have a rest.

I don’t know what I said to her. It would have been fun to spend more time with another dog, but she was really quite aloof.

There was no way I could settle down with her here for a chat.

There was no way I could settle down with her here for a chat.

Lori the Firewood Lady’s assistant was very kind. He stored all of the dry wood in our woodshed for us while the women talked. Then they left. They took Maddie with them.

A few days later, a bear walked through the yard just before Elizabeth came to let me out of my kennel for my a.m. b.m. and run. I was so focused on my mission that I missed another less conspicuous but far more unusual visitor. Fortunately, Elizabeth had her camera handy. She took pictures so I could see. I asked her if she’d show you, too.

Good morning!

Good morning!

This Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) was just heading home after a busy night's hunting.

This Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) was just heading home after a busy night’s hunting.

He's only about 6 cm (just over two inches) long. Although Elizabeth has seen him several times now, I haven't met him (or her, we're not actually sure...).

He’s only about 6 cm (just over two inches) long. Although Elizabeth has seen him several times now, I haven’t met him (or her, we’re not actually sure…).

I’d sort of like to meet this fellow. Apparently, if this little amphibian feels threatened, he will raise his tail up and emit a foul-smelling scent. That’s not so unusual. Skunks do that all the time! What is really strange is that Blue-spotted Salamanders will let their tail fall off, too! I guess if they are in a hurry, they don’t want to carry all that extra weight around… BOL!

Our neighbour René came by while Elizabeth and I were working at the bookshop on Saturday. He spent the whole day helping Kay get Jeff the Tree Man’s woodpiles stashed away. I noticed he left his trailer and the log splitter out, so I think he might be coming back again. Maybe he’ll do a log splitting demo for next week’s blog! I’ll ask him…   ~:oP=

 

Comings & Goings

We have been inundated by visitors this past week. I’m hoarse from all the barking I’ve had to do.

Some two-leggers drive down the Little Gravel Path to our house and just ignore me. Usually, they are two-leggers who’ve met me before. I know who they are, too, and I just bark to let Kay and Elizabeth know that someone they need to see is here. This list includes Doyle the Dog Food Man, Rob the Snow Man, Al, the Mowing Girl, René and a number of other regular visitors.

Other visitors I bark at because they aren’t welcome: any of the Wily Wolf Gang, Sneaky Deer, The Cougar, the plum-loving Black Bear, and the various garden thieves like Groundhogs and Squirrels and Hares.

There’s another group of visitors that concern me… two-leggers I don’t know. I find them rather disturbing because I’m never sure whether they are here by invitation or not. I find barking at them, even mixing in the occasional rumbly growl – two-leggers find that very scary! – is a very important tactic to employ. Generally speaking, if this sort of visitor isn’t supposed to be here, they turn around and head straight back out before I have a chance to attack. BOL. Too easy! If they stay, Elizabeth or Kay always come out to see who they are. Once I know they are welcome, there’s no problem.

It is from this latter group that most of our visitors seem to have come this week. The Hydro Person came to read the meter. I made that two-legger so nervous that all my two-leggers saw was an arm with an appended gadget stick out the window a bit and point at the hydro meter. The growly beast was gone before Elizabeth could get out to talk to the two-legger inside.

Another growly beast was truly audacious. Look at this:

This growly beast's two-legger was here for a good reason. But he sure parked in a strange place.

This growly beast’s two-legger was here for a good reason. But he sure parked in a strange place.

It turned out to be a new friend, Jeff the Tree Man. He came to take down that big old Jack Pine that drowned with the flood. I asked Elizabeth to take a picture of him at work:

Funny how often you find yourself saying goodbye to an old friend only to immediately make a new one!

Funny how often you find yourself saying goodbye to an old friend only immediately to make a new one!

Our view looks much different now.

We see a lot more water in Our Bay now that the tree has been cut up.

We see a lot more water in Our Bay now that the tree has been cut up.

While Jeff the Tree Man worked at turning our Jack Pine into winter fuel, another visitor rolled in. This one came in a very BIG growly beast. This was a two-legger with serious attitude, Ron the Septic Tank Man. You can see from his truck that he is a very confident sort. I barked at him, but I was inside the house, staying out of the way of chainsaws and falling tree parts so, my barking didn’t scare him at all.

Ron the Septic Tank Man's truck says it all!

Ron the Septic Tank Man’s truck says it all!

We’ve had lots of other visitors, too, but most of them just made me curious. For example, there are several very long, skinny fellows snooping around the gardens these days. Elizabeth says hopefully, they are eating some of the slugs and grasshoppers. They certainly aren’t eating any of the garden produce, so I just follow them around and watch them. They’re fascinating, Slithery Snakes. They rustle the grasses and smell interesting and they always seem unerringly to find the tiniest holes to slip into yet that are long enough to hide their whole length! One day, maybe Elizabeth might get a photo for me to show you one.

Slithery Snakes are just one of several interesting regulars, though.

Every morning I find evidence of other benign intruders.

Every morning I find evidence of other benign intruders. This web was made by a Grass Spider, who hides in the hole of the funnel-like structure.

There are also some intruders that Elizabeth really dislikes. They aren’t all so benign, either.

TV Bug mini

This is a Wood Borer. When Elizabeth was a two-legger pup, a former London Bobby (that’s what they call a policeman, apparently, in a country much closer to my ancestral homeland than we are) had a cottage in our neighbourhood. He told Elizabeth that these were called TV Bugs. Back in those days, two-leggers used big antennae to snag television signals from the air instead of satellite dishes! She believed him because he was a policeman.

Elizabeth got very upset when one of these landed on her the other day. She really doesn’t like them! If they bite, it hurts. But I think it’s more the size of them that bugs her (like my pun?). So, when she saw this one trying to sneak in through an open window (We have screens on all our windows here. It was foiled before it even started thinking about eating our furniture.), she thought maybe an introduction would be in order…

Unfortunately for Elizabeth, Shelob had already had a Dragonfly over for breakfast and was feeling too satiated to even look at a Wood Borer.

Unfortunately for Elizabeth, Shelob had already had a Dragonfly over for breakfast and was feeling too satiated to even look at a Wood Borer.

Shelob is one of three Giant Lichen Orbweaver Spiders we have lurking around OUTSIDE the house. She is the darkest of the ‘Three Sisters’. The other two, Hecate and Kali, look more like the one I showed you in an earlier post in colouring, but the markings on the back are all similar. We think the front end of the bulbous abdomen looks like a skull. Looking straight down at the abdomen, and only faintly visible on this one, there is a lightning bolt on each side! Like me, they look scary but they’re harmless… unless you are an insect. By the way, Elizabeth doesn’t normally name spiders, but these three have hung around for so long and are so enormous that she feels obligated to acknowledge them somehow.

I’m hoping it is a little less busy around here for a while. It’s too hot to do anything but swim and lie in my shaded dugout. I’ll have to get Elizabeth out on a Wildflower Hunt for tomorrow, though! See you then!   ~:o)=

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