Friday, December 18, 2009

Will the Lake Blow Out??

You can see the ice on the shore, the remnants from the latest freeze up. A couple of weeks ago it blew pretty hard and took out the waterhole. Then it got cold and froze up again. Today it got really windy and warm. Almost freezing! -4 C. We walked down to the Lake to see how close it was to going out again. You could hear the noise all the way up at the house.
There was overflow all over, luckily just a few inches of snow so not too sloppy. The open water was bashing and crashing away. Still 8 inches of ice though. You could also hear the water under the ice, just a wee bit creepy.
Ken went back and got his snow machine and the water pails. Filled everything up just in case.
This is typical weather in a year when there is an El Nino. Most of our weather comes off the Gulf of Alaska, primo storm breeding grounds. Makes for a warmer than normal and cloudier than normal winter. The forecast for next week is in the minus teens and sunny. Yippie! My favorite winter weather.

Kids at Work!

Some images from my after school pottery group. There were more boys but the girls started to tease them and they couldn't handle it. So they went home! Chickens.
Most of them were making Christmas ornaments with cookie cutters. Nice presents for Grandmas and Moms. one little buddy is a real dinosaur lover. He makes them just like they'd look in the ground. If this isn't cool I don't know what is.
Now for three weeks off, time to make my own pots and start getting ahead for the summer season.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More Photos from the NWT

Top is the Lady Evelyn Falls, outlet of the Kakiska River. The falls are about 10 km off the highway. Kakiska Lake is pretty good size, supposed to be excellent fishing in the summer.
Next is a very interesting place with a great story. It is called McNally Falls. Where the road crosses the creek you wouldn't have a clue what is just feet to the North of you. It is what we call a 'three step creek'. While they were doing some location work for the highway they were crossing it with a canoe when the current pulled then down. The two guys managed to jump ashore, but their canoe went over the 50 ft. fall! Apparently it's skeleton was visable for many years after.
The last two waterfalls are the Louise and Alexandra Falls on the Hay River. They are only three km apart and there is a very nice walking trail connecting them. They are only a few km. north of the Alberta/NWT border. As you can see, all the water is brown.
Last photo is of Great Slave Lake, the northern inland sea. It has waves and a sandy beach and driftwood!
I would recommend this trip to anyone who likes the great outdoors. In September there is almost no traffic, bugs-well we won't go there. Doesn't matter though, they weren't that bad. It was really neat seeing all these places we keep reading stories about. I am so glad we did this trip.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trip to the NWT Part III Waterfalls and the MacKenzie River

Top photo is Jean Marie River. It is a neat little place 27 km from the Mackenzie highway right on the river. 90 people live there. This is the old school built in 1953. Next is the highway....and then my trusty van 'hotel Montana'. Actually it ended up way muddier before we were finished.
Sam Baa Deh waterfall is right on the highway. There is another fall called the Coral Falls about a km upriver that we hiked up to. So strange to have then just pop up in this flat place. Found some neat fossils here in the road crush on the side of the highway.
Next pic taken from the ferry on the Mackenzie river. They are building a bridge that will take 3 years to complete. Last pic is Fort Providence on the other side of the river....we got to ride the ferry twice the same day. This place had the worst black flies I have ever experienced.

Trip to the NWT PartII Water Everywhere!

Top Photo is where the Petitot River joins the Liard. Lots of water in each river. Then a riverboat at Fort Liard. 100 km downstream the river is crossed by a large ferry. Last pic is looking upstream at the ferry landing. These rivers are huge and we haven't gotten to the Mackenzie yet! I am so used to seeing the Liard river where the Alaska Highway crosses it, big for the Yukon, but one of the clear, blue rivers. Here it is really muddy. In fact even the rivers that the people here call clear are brown to me, like the Blackstone. It is because they all come out of the muskeg, dyed brown with tannin. It looks impossible to travel in this country overland, much too wet. However in winter with all the water frozen it must be a dream. Totally flat!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trip to the NWT, Part I:Liard Highway

This September we took a trip into Canadian fur trading history. Even though we live in the Yukon, the NWT is seen by many people as the real North. All the early fur traders hung out there and the drive to find the North West Passage took place there.
We also just wanted to see some more wild and unpeopled places. Well, we came to the right spot! About a mile over the border we saw this huge bull buffalo. Later on we saw several more of his pals grazing on the side of the road. The Liard Highway starts out by fooling you that it will be an easy drive-fresh pavement (not even chip seal!!) for the first 30 or so miles. Then chip seal and THEN good old gravel.It is 97 kms through B.C. to the NWT border. And once you cross the border it goes into 37 kms of potholes and ruts. Made us realize how spoiled we have become in the Yukon with our now good roads. The bridges are one lane.
There is a photo of the crossing of the Nelson River. At the pull off on the north side there was a poster proclaiming a 'no idling zone' "Keep Our Air Clean". Must say I laughed my head off on that one. The entire trip to Fort Liard we saw one other truck.
The top photo is of the campground (free) at Hay Lake at Fort Liard. That is where we spent our second night of our trip, of course Liard Hot Springs was the first stop.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eating from Close to Home

Here is our dinner for tonight. Bear meat, cooked with homemade berry wine, carrots and parsley from our garden. Also the first potatoes! Super tasty and eaten in very nice surroundings. One of the best things about summer, eating out of the garden.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Firing the Wood Kiln

My little kiln is made out of very used hard brick. They are AP Green Ozark and Empite bricks. They came from an old boiler that belonged to the Federal Government housing in Whitehorse. A friend of mine got a contract to tear it down and took the bricks for salvage. He had plans to build his own boiler, piled them in his yard and forgot about them for many years. He wanted to clean up all the accumulated 'stuff' so he had a big auction. Luckily for me I bought 1800 bricks for $200. Getting them back to my place 100 km away was a bit of a challenge. They weigh in at 8 lbs each. Got my neighbor's 3 ton Bobcat trailer and one of my 15 year old students and after three trips got them stcked on pallets at my place.
Thanks to Clayart on line pottery forum I found out about Steve Harrison's Laid Back Wood Firing. Bought it from The Potter's Shop and found the design of my dreams! Only took me a week to build. The first set of cone packs was from the front in the very first experimental firing. The pack was 8-9-10-11. All totally melted! Didn't side stoke so the back was between 6 and 8. For the next firing I plugged up some of the upper flues of the checkered flue. After I switched to the Hobs I started to side stoke and carried it through after every fill of the Bourry box. When cone 10 went down in the middle I called it quits. The most interesting thing about side stoking is how the flame in the kiln behaves when you put in a bundle of wood. It causes major turbalance. Instead of the flame flowing like a thivk river, it roars back towards the FRONT and goes in circles.
I have never used the damper while firing. I tried it, but it really causes it to slow down. I am firing by my self. I start at 4:30 am and seem to be finishing around 7 to 9 pm. Last time I didn't bother with a preheat and it went off faster. Go figure. Before I triend the side stoking it took until midnight to get done. Too long for me!
I can hardly wait for it to rain and the fire weather index to go down. I have some neat new pots to fire made from new and diffrent clay.
By the way. I top off my kiln with shelves, a layer of block insulation, a layer of soft brick and top it all off with fibre.

The Original Smog

Forest fires are a fact of life in the North. It has been several years since we have had a bad summer full of them. We seem to be making up for it now! Not as bad as Fairbanks. At least when the wind comes from the South and West we get respite. There they are surrounded by fires.
Too bad the colour of the sun washed out in the photo. It was the classic forest-fire orange. The full moon was also orange instead of silver. Luckily the smoke only lasted a few days. Our hot spell is over (for how many years??) and we are back to the Costal flow, but still no rain.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Heat Wave II

It has been more than unseasonably warm. Records have fallen. Temps have been in the 90's, its awful! I am running out of pots at the stores. Can't fire anything, kiln, pitfire, even the sauna. It is scary when it is so hot and it hasn't rained at all since the snow went. The White Pass had 25 ft of snow last winter so at least the lake is full. We can pump water and keep our garden going. It is the best in years. I have been canning tomatoes and freezing loads of veggies. The flowers are fantastic. One good thing about all this heat is that it has fried most of the mosquitoes. Yippie!!
Some photos of the dog yard showing how we manage the dogs in the heat. Lots of water. We finally had to shut the whole works down last Thursday. Instead of rides we gave kennel tours and talks. By the way, the dog pictured is Allosaurus. If you'd even tried to feed him a snack you would know why he is named that. He is showing how he stays cool at work.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Results from Latest Firing

Here are some not too good photos from my last wood firing. I was being consumed by mosquitoes so didn't take much care/backgrounds etc. Love those flambe and other copper glazes in the wood. The smallest greenish vase was an experiment with cone 6 clay at the back. That is the place that usually produces refires. It is Plainsman M340, my favorite pit-fire clay. It did make it through cone 8 no sweat, no melting etc. Next time will try it with some Ravenscrag glazes. Instead of busting my behind trying to get it up to temp might as well just go with its natural bent. I started the fire at 4:30 am and fired till 7 pm. First time I didn't do a preheat and it got to temp faster!! Don't know what that my normal cone 11 down in the front and 10 in the rest (except the back shelf).
My pottery classes haven't had the greatest attendance since school is out so have the time to make for my next firing and get paid at the same time. Once the summer people arrive will be busy again.
In the gardening department been eating lots of cucumbers, zucchini, Chinese greens and yummy red tomatoes! Had lettece and green onions for months now. Flowers starting to look good too. A few flower buds on the potatoes too. Just need some warmer weather.

Friday, May 29, 2009

News from the Yukon

Some recent photos. Been seeing tons of bears. That big mama next to my van was by Frog Lake on the Skagway Road. We have gotten out at the lake for a pitstop and my dog was really sniffing around. We had just pulled out onto the road when I saw her black yearling cub on the road and fatty mama busy eating by the side of the road. She was the largest sow I have ever seen.

The other two brown guys are twin yearlings that everybody around here has been seeing. I watched them playing on the road, batting each other and shuffling around. Looked like they were having a good time until I interrupted them. The other day they were seen in the bush behind our place. Luckily they run away when they see people.

Fired the kiln. Best ever. It is supposed to be smokeless. However, sidestoking makes big billows of black is a magnet for any planes flying sround. They like to circle around and see the fun!

Last of all an update on Jazz, the orphan pup. After a winter in which he used up more lives than a cat, the unbelievable has happened. He is now a real sled dog!!! He got run over by an ATV, got into a fight with the other pups and got abcessed bites in his neck, and worst of all, ate up two dog fur hats and wouldn't be house trained. He finally got exiled from the house and chained up in the dog yard. Then he was put into training with the rest of the pups from last year. Now we are running him in teams at the dog ride. A nice ending to that saga!