DIARY FROM ONTARIO CANADA JUNE 2002

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Saturday 29th June 2002

It's a holiday weekend here. Canada Day on Monday. There will be fireworks in the park. The weather is really lovely.

Following is chat about lawnmowers:

Finally decided to change the filthy oil in my lawnmower .. probably no big deal for you. - but I don't have a manual for the mower. Between finding the correct hex key, shopping for same, getting the correct lubricant, cleaning up the mess in the garage - and the heat, seemed to take forever. I didn't know that my lawnmower is a 4-cycle. (The difference is that a 2-stroke has the oil mixed with the gasoline). My neighbour had been putting 10W-30 oil in the mower. Apparently that is something you should never do! My local service station taught me that gasoline can and does go bad. You should never leave gasoline in a mower (or anything else) over winter. It has to have a preservative added. This preservative is sold at Sears and the Home Hardware, along with the special oil. These items are not available at gasoline stores or auto service stations. My lawnmower repair man said he really likes the people who just dump their mowers with gas still in them at the end of the season. It usually costs about $50 to have them cleaned up and started the following spring!
Wonder if the mower has an air filter. It has a silencer, but I can't see where an air filter would fit. Will have to spend more time checking that out. Oh well, it's something else to do. Learning to start an airplane certainly helped with starting the lawnmower. Before that I was always flooding the system and could never get it right. I think of the many patient young men and women who eventually taught me how to prime the system properly - and how to close it down too:
* To start the mower you have to push the lever past "fast-run" to "prime".
* Pull the starter line gently until you feel resistance - that is the compression. At that point, give it a firm pull.
* If it starts, then very quickly push the lever down to "fast-run".
* If it does not start, then feel for the compression and give another firm pull. (That completes two "priming" cycles. Do not do more than two, or you will flood the system).
* If it still does not start, then push the lever right down to "slowest". Pull again.
* Continue pulling at "slowest". Do not go back to "fast-run" until it starts. If it starts then you must get the lever back to "fast-run very quickly or it will stall again.
* If it refuses to start, then it may have old gasoline in it - so you'll need to get it cleaned out. But first you could try fitting a new plug. Good luck with that! I don't believe I have the right size plug remover.
(I bless the patient instructor who taught me how to do a "cold start" every time I start my snow plow on a freezing snowy day.)
* To close the motor down, you should turn off the gas and lower the speed for half a minute. Then release the handle to turn it off.
I had the blade sharpened - by a gentleman who comes around with a van, ringing a large bell. Cost me $10! I should learn to do that myself too. Oh well, it's a dirty job and he probably does it better than I could.

Tuesday 25th June 2002

It's supposed to be about 40C (that's about 105F) again today, with the humidex. This is very unhealthy weather. I tend to live in my basement and have a few words of advice about basements:

In Canada most homes have basements. This is because the foundations need to be dug below the frost line. If these foundations are deep enough, the ground remains quite cold even in summer. This causes a lot of condensation, which in turn causes moulds, awful smells and a very unhealthy air problem. If you purchase a home and the seller has told you "the basement is dry" - be very cautious about this person. In Canada we have a saying: "There's no such thing as a free lunch or a dry basement".

There are two ways to remedy the continual condensation:
An air-conditioner (or better yet central air conditioning if you can afford). Put the condensation water pipe onto your flower beds - the flowers will love it!
One or two de-humidifiers. I have two. I need to empty them at least daily. This means I am getting about ten gallons of surplus condensation out of my basement daily. Imagine the damage this can do to the furniture and equipment! .. not to speak of the mould and insects it attracts - everything from carpenter ants to wolf-spiders. If you can manage to get the waste water onto the garden that would be helpful. Unfortunately I have to put my humidifier water down the toilet.

In winter you will need to get out promptly and clear the snow as far away from the foundation as possible. Also get all water running away from the foundation. For a while my work-room and furnace room had water coming through the foundation. I had the rain pipes cleared and re-directed. This cured the leaks.

On a lighter note, here are some pictures of my neighbour's beautiful roses - which seem to prefer my side of the fence!

Roses on my side.
Climbing pink roseAn unusual white rose
which closes up
at night or during rain.

Sunday 23rd June 2002

It's about 40 and very humid over here. There's a very strong wind blowing too.
This afternoon I went to see the new Tom Cruise movie: "Minority Report". I didn't actually like it very much. Steven Spielburg makes marvellous movies and all the actors did magnificent, realistic work. The problem was that the story was quite depressing and gory in places. The appalling overbuilding, overpopulation, lack of privacy etc. I found quite grim. What an awful future to envision. Anyway .. I do enjoy my Sunday afternoon movies generally. When I got out - at about three in the afternoon, it was like stepping in front of an oven.

Friday 21st June 2002

Beautiful hot sunny summer day. Got out early to beat the smog, uv rays and high humidity.
Alas, today is when the sun begins to swing the other way and from now on the days get shorter by two minutes each day.
My flowers are in full swing. My neighbours' roses hang over my driveway. My rosa-rugosa are filled with sweet perfumed blooms. The peonies are covered with huge multi-petalled flowers. Honeysuckle climbs beside my doors, covered with complicated sweet smelling flowers. Lilac, which is beginning to fade elsewhere, is in full bloom on my bush. Here are a few pictures:

Peonies in bloom.

Tuesday 18th June 2002

What a wonderful day! The sky is blue and the breeze is pleasantly cool. Perfect for a walk or anything else one wants to do. The kind of day when Uncle Remus sang "Zippity Do Da". I always loved that song.

For the past couple of weeks it has been unusually cool and rainy. Just like England in fact. .. and the way, as a gardener, I prefer it to be. My lawns and hedges have been growing madly. Yesterday was the first day I managed to get out with the lawnmower. Even then I finished mowing in the pouring rain. The gardens look lush and green, more like Devon than Canada in June. Yesterday was the first time, since breaking my arm, that I managed to finish clipping the hedge with the hand-clippers. The result is a rather painful and stiff arm.

I haven't listed my movies for the past couple of weeks: On the 9th I saw "The Importance of Being Ernest" at the Bookshelf. It was excellent. (I always enjoy anything with Judy Dench). It is very much like the farcical stories of P.G. Woodhouse. The males are, apparently, twitty layabouts and the females appear to be overdressed brainless snobs. The costumes are gorgeous, the English countryside magnificent and the acting perfection.

The woman next to me thought she would be seeing "Monsoon Wedding". I hope she wasn't disappointed. As she was from Eastern Europe she may have found the British accents difficult to understand.

On the 16th I saw "The Bourne Identity". As I have always enjoyed movies about people with amnesia, I found this very enjoyable. It must be terrible and fascinating to awake without an identity. "Bourne" gradually finds his amazing skills with defence, languages, finance etc. He leads the audience on a fast and exciting chase. His pursuers, desperate to kill him, appear to hold all the cards.

Saturday 8th June 2002

It is very warm and sunny today. Finally my garden is beginning to look quite mature. The clematis are thickly covered with flowers. The dwarf apple tree, which I planted three years ago, now has fruit in place of blossom, which I photographed last month. Last year it only had one apple. Oh for the patience of a gardener!

Clematis and dwarf apple.

Sunday 2nd June 2002

Yesterday I finally bit the bullet and paid for a flight over to Niagara Falls - to take some pictures and try to remember how to fly a 172. It cost me $249.20, (that's 112.25 in UK Pounds) but was really such a pleasure. The flight took 1.7 hr. The instructor from Aviation International at Guelph Airpark was Gary Meijerink. He has well over 1,000 hours (I forget how much exactly).

Gary tested my headsets .. and one of the microphones doesn't work. Isn't it annoying how things just go to pot if they aren't used for a while. Also, the night before, I had been trying out my cameras - and they both stopped working because of the condensation. It has been terribly hot and humid upstairs, but my basement is very cold and dry due to the air-conditioning.

It was interesting to notice how Gary handled the radio. He contacted Toronto Centre, immediately telling them who and what we were and where we were going, with the current and intended altitude. He gave them our transponder code. They immediately replied with an individual transponder code, so we had "flight follow" all the time. It's good to have someone else watching out for other traffic. As it was Saturday, the airwaves and the air space was very busy.

I took a lot of pictures, mostly video. .. but then was able to take stills from the TV afterwards. Hope that works out!

I had been looking around for someone to share the flight - and it wasn't until this morning that I found an English couple who would have loved to come along. .. oh well, next time. Also, she isn't that enthusiastic, so I don't know if that would work out either.

It's another lovely day today, so I'm going for a drive with my neighbour. .. when she has finished cooking. I keep telling her she ought to open a restaurant!

A lot of rather fuzzy
pictures taken from my video
Horseshoe Falls,
(strut in the way).
the plane CF YTI
Rainbow Bridge US and Canadian Falls
Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Helicopter passes
beneath our plane.
Tourist rides.
Maid of the Mist.
Tourist boat.

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