I used to drive my car around my running route using its odometer to calculate the distance I was running. Since the distance I run varies and is also increasing in length every week using the cars odometer was sort of overkill, then I heard about runnersworld.com

If you join their site you can keep track of all kinds of running related things. The main thing, for me, was to be able to use google maps to calculate how far I was running. However, signing up on their site was a pain. When I finally succeeded I mapped my run by clicking my mouse at intervals along the road. It told me the total number of miles I had run. Mileage or should I say kilometrage is also available in kilometers which I prefer. I saved my map and logged out. Later, when I came back to the site to make another map, or rather gloat about the extra distance I was now running, the site refused to recognize me. It told me I did not exist, even though I entered my coordinates a couple a times, fearing typos. Humpf.

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More than two years ago I packed all my books into boxes in preparation for moving. They sat in the basement of our new house until today. They withstood a flood when the connection in one of the water pipes blew apart luckily the plumber was still on contract so he fixed it the next day although he did nothing for the books.

The years the books spent in boxes compressed by other books in boxes was such that some of the paperbacks buckled and curled I hope they straighten out on the shelves.

most of our books
Having all my books in boxes was a pain. I was constantly being reminded of some book I wanted to get a quote from, or reread, or lend to a friend. I was forced too go down into the basement, rummage around in the boxes, in desperation throwing books aside trying to remember which book the particular author quote was in. The book I wanted to lend to a friend was always in the last box I looked in. Now they are all on shelves I’m looking forward to rearranging them, perhaps this time by author.

As usual we managed to fill two boxes with discards, books I know I will never read again. I only keep books I read more than once. I only try to buy books I think I want to read more than once. Sometimes I make a mistake.

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So now I’ve moved back to the country my sources for locally produced food from the Peace have all but dried up; something to do with the new shortsighted rules for farm gate sales. I’ve started to look for food closer too home which is smart given our current world wide crisis (there are plenty to choose from)

My first thought was I would have to construct a fenced in hen house, buy a bunch of baby chicks for eggs as well as the cooking pot and maybe a DIY book to ease my new parent anxieties. I really was not looking forward to it even though I know, in a couple of years, the whole enterprise would pay me back, in the taste department as well as my pocket book. Then, I saw a sign on the community bulletin board for free range eggs, score.

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yarnI love this pattern. I bought it from Anna Bell the minute I saw it on her blog. In February I ordered, online, 5 skeins of Debbie Bliss cotton angora, enough to make the smallest size. There is only one local yarn store, LYS, in Prince George and they do not carry Debbie Bliss yarn.

After swatching I realized I had to go down a whole needle size to get gauge, not bad. As I knitted I learned how to make cables, her instructions are exhaustive. After finishing the back and both fronts I realized I needed more yarn if I were to finish both sleeves and sew all the pieces together. I had to get it from another online store. The shipping cost more than the one skein I ordered, but what was I to do?

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avm-book-coverBarbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal Vegetable Miracle, is about a families year long experiment to produce all their own food or buy whatever they couldn’t produce from local sources. Usually small farms like their own and farmers markets. Sometimes their definition of local had to be expanded to include their whole state or another country for food like coffee and tea produced under a Fair Trade agreement.

I enjoyed this book. It inspired me to want to really take up vegetable gardening in a big way, try and plant as much food as possible so as to avoid buying out of season produce at the supermarket. Because if you are eating right you will not be eating tomatoes from Mexico in February. With a freezer you would have been able to freeze your tomatoes in August, when they were ripe, for use in stews and soups all year long.

For a while I was almost convinced to buy some laying hens and a couple of roosters. Robert soon set me straight by pointing out how much of a hassle it would be finding someone to look after them when we wanted to go away.

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This new squirrel proof bird feeder is so successful I feel my budget will not be able to keep up with the demand for black oilseeds. It holds ten pounds of seeds which the birds are going through in about a week.

The birds hang out on the ground beneath the feeder and the surrounding trees bickering about whose turn it is to actually get a feeder perch. Periodically the squirrel runs between its seed cache, behind the shed, and the ground under the feeder chasing off any birds who are pecking through the seed shells looking for whole seeds so it can get the seeds for itself.

So far the cat is pretending disinterest in the whole setup.

Days Off

Either someone has stolen my Plants of Northern British Columbia book or I stupidly put it away in one of those thirty two boxes of books, taking up space on my basement floor. I don’t like having my books in boxes. A while ago I bought another copy of one of my books. I badly wanted to read it and I couldn’t find it in the boxes, even after taking almost every book out and putting them back again. What a pain. I really don’t want to make a habit of buying duplicate copies of all my books.

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I couldn’t wait to get home from work, put on shorts and a tank top, grab a coke from the fridge and my book, Unaccustomed Earth. I took them outside to sit on the deck in the hot sun. You have to take advantage of the weather when it is acting like summer.

I was prompted to pick up this book after listening to Vicki Gabereau interview the award winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri writes about first and second generation Bengali families -immigrants to the United States coming to terms with their adopted culture.

I was a bit taken aback, after reading the first long chapter, to find the book wasn’t a novel but a collection of short stories. I had become so completely immersed in the characters of that first story I had just wanted it to go on and on. However, the rest of the stories were just as mesmerizing.

I find it amusing that the Bengali characters were always lighting cigarettes, or openly displaying bottles of scotch on their dinner tables. It was almost as if they had to do this to prove how Western and sophisticated they had become.

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To celebrate the end of my two week stint of full time work, a biggie for me, we are going to blow our climate action dividend cheques on dinner in an expensive restaurant.

On Wednesday I listened to a program on CBC. The minister responsible for the carbon tax on gasoline, the resulting lower taxes meant to offset the carbon tax and a $100 dollar cheque for each tax paying British Columbian, was defending his governments attempt to force us to adopt greener habits. According to the minister this means something like blowing the entire climate action dividend cheque on low energy lightbulbs, weatherize our doors and windows, getting our car tuned up. You get the picture.

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“it is the self contained, independent nature of guerrilla fighters that make their battle so effective. Free from cumbersome bureaucracy and chains of command, a guerrilla is unplugged, off-grid and powered by common sense. “
writes Richard Reynolds in his book, On Guerrilla Gardening. His well organized informative book outlines the answers to all ones questions, who what when why, would bother planting seeds and cultivating vegetables and flowers in next doors vacant lot only to have the whole thing plowed under by the authorities. The second section is a manual for all would be guerilla gardeners. Throughout his book Reynolds cites many examples of individual guerilla gardening activities, how they succeeded or did not succeed against the establishment.

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I’m sitting in the library trying to cool off. I can feel sweat beading under my chin, running down my back and dampening my under arms. My bra is sticking to my body like suction cups on a wet window. I unhooked it at the back then pulling down each strap I was able to pull the whole thing off through one of the armholes of my t-shirt. luckily there is no one in this particular corner.

I was running back to my car, which in this heat is idiotic. This seesaw weather is nuts. For some reason I had a vision of my laptop bag, left on the front seat of my car, door locked but the sunroof wide open and someone with long arms reaching inside to swipe it off the seat.

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We first looked at this house in April. Now it has green grass, pots full of flowers and stairs leading up to the front door. The builder was there and so were a lot of other nosy people like us. Inside, the floor was finished in slate, engineered hardwood and carpet in the basement. Some rooms had vaulted ceilings and there were quirky windows everywhere, although the windows faced the wrong way so the light coming in was cold. At one point I was in the kitchen, opening cupboards, admiring the solid black granite counter top when a chill come over me. Out I went into the sunlight. The house faces west. The big overhang on the long south side (RHS in the photo) prevents the sun from shinning into the house. I doubt even in winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, will it be able to stretch its rays underneath and far back enough to shine on the kitchen floor.

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I’ve just arrived back from a long drive up the Bowron lake road. We took the turnoff towards the Vineyards a beautiful alpine area full of sparkling lakes, meadows of colourful wildflowers and views of snow capped peaks in every direction.

It was a typical Ramblers hike with several diehards and a few newcomers. One of the newcomers, an older women a good deal older than any of us, rode in our car. She bragged about other hikes she had done. We talked about future trips and reminisced about past trips. After parking the vehicles we started hiking up an overgrown road toward the trailhead. I was in my usual position at the head of the pack. The weather was warm with a slight breeze so there weren’t any bugs.

After walking about a kilometer we waited for the stragglers except it took longer than the usual five minutes for them to catch up. After what seemed like an eternity, to impatient me, the last two rounded the corner one of them, the newcomer could barely catch her breath.

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I’m back from tromping up mountains, every steep pitch, then down again, through hellebore covered slopes, slipping backwards onto my butt more times than I care to remember, Fat hellebore leaves are a bitch to walk on especially when the slope is steep. Luckily there was enough snow and lateral moraines to keep things interesting.

Sometimes flowers like Valarian, Paintbrush Fleabane, Aster, Potentilla, Columbine and bog Orchids managed to push their way up between the hellebore leaves filling the meadows with colour.

The hike leader packed two boxes of red wine for us all to enjoy thus our campfire conversations were lively and fun untill my eyelids shut and I had to pry them open with my fingers so I could see through the gloaming, back to my tent. Yesterday, the third day, we came down the Red Mountain trail. I was reminded of all the skiing I have done there and all the skiing I have yet to do there. This slope is usually covered in snow not hellebores.

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I had never heard of Robert Weaver until a couple of days ago. I was plugged into my iPhone while I did housework, the Ideas podcast came on and I learned Robert Weaver had devoted over fifty years of his life to nurturing the development of Canadian literature. As I listened I realized almost all of Canada’s literary talent had been influenced by this men.

I felt almost jealous as I listened to Alice Munro or Alice Laidlaw as she was known back in 1951, tell her story about her business relationship with Weaver.

Munro had heard Weaver was looking for short stories to read aloud on his CBC radio program, Anthology. She wrote him a letter and included two of her stories. He wrote back suggesting ways she could improve them and subsequently bought them both. Munro says, “That was probably the greatest moment of my life,” appearing in print and being paid for the privilege.

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After five days of walking, biking and driving the Okanagan wine route, tasting as much wine as we could before our taste buds gave out we knew we had had enough. In fact now we are home and have unpacked and gloated over all the fabulous wine we just had to buy a bottle, or two or three of, I do not feel like drinking any of them. I’m thinking maybe a beer would be a nice change. I’m sure the feeling will pass.

I‘m amazed at the extent my knowledge of wine and how much my taste buds and sense of smell has developed since I first did a wine tour in the Okanagan three years ago. We didn’t even feel guilty if after tasting all the wines on offer our discerning brains told us it was all crap and we didn’t need to buy any of it. It helps if you trust your first instinct, ignore the tasting notes and try to tune out what the sommelier is telling you. After tasting five different Chardonnays from five different wineries I determined I like a Chardonnay to be lightly oaked with a taste of fruit. Too much oak and the flavour of the grape is lost, this is true of red wines as well.

wine-route

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Good news doesn’t have to be rehearsed. Think about it. If there is a birth or a wedding, no one struggles with how to declare it. We’re having a baby! We’re getting married! The right words are pretty obvious. On the other hand, bad news requires more thought. I regret to inform you that… The cancer has spread. There’s been an accident. There is nothing more we can do. Similarly, good brands spread more organically

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Ken Lang is a seasoned detective and true crime author. His book Walking Among the Dead is available in paperback and on Kindle. Keep up with him on Twitter @detkenlang.

Ken shares more about his faith and discusses police shows, why we kill, and his latest book. Read part one here.

Have you ever wanted to quit and find another line of work?

Yes… after 22 years of working as a police officer/detective, I must admit that the crime and violence has worn on me.

Recently, while recovering from a medical procedure that incapacitated me for 6 weeks, I got a taste of working from home.  During that time I was able to finish my first book and work on getting it published. I must say that I really enjoyed working from home and being with the family more.

On the other hand, I have reached 20 years of service with my current agency and am eligible to retire on a 50% retirement.  Considering I am only 43 years in age, I am looking to change directions in my career.  Perhaps when I finish my Master’s degree I will teach criminal justice courses in a college setting.  But with all the book ideas that I’ve come up with, I must confess that sitting on my deck and writing is awfully inviting.

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Ken Lang is a seasoned detective and true crime author. His book Walking Among the Dead is available in paperback and on Kindle. Here is the second part of the interview with Ken Lang.

How did you become a homicide detective?

Actually, upon joining the police department, my aspiration was to become a homicide detective.  After cutting my teeth in patrol, I applied to become a precinct level detective, investigating crimes that did not fall under a specialized unit.  With my sights set on working murders, I knew I would need to work at headquarters in order to gain the exposure and experience to even be considered for such a unit.  Having completed two years of detective work at the precinct level, I applied to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and was selected to work Sex Crimes.  I worked in that unit for 3 years before moving over to the Robbery Unit that is responsible for investigating commercial robberies.  Commercial robberies often have a tendency to turn violent (i.e. victim is stabbed or shot), so I was selected to attend the Francis Lee Glessner School at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner; a required training school for homicide detectives in our agency.  Just a few years after completing this school, several positions became available in the Homicide Unit.  I applied and was selected.

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