About this blog

Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
we want YOU to think...if you dare...


Friday, March 30, 2012

Surprise! WE have a NEW FEATURE !

Surprise, Surprise, What is It?

Surprise, surprise!  WE have a new feature on Blogger!  What is it?

A black and white  Easter egg?   A meteorite?  A smurf hiding? Is that a hat? snow? Something an alien left behind? 

No, but we can now add pages to our Blog...a feature we LIKE.

  At Incoming Bytes we have taken this opportunity to introduce the page "What you see is what you Get!"  which will be exactly that.
What you see is what we get.  See the  new Title' at the top of the page? Click on it!

I hope you enjoy it. Our flagship page on "What you see is what you Get!" features some wonderful pictures of work done by Mother Nature herself--that beautiful, unpredictable  joker.

We will  be adding content on "What you see is what you Get"  from time to time.  Let us know what you think.  You can add comments just as you would with the main page.  Don't forget to follow, subscribe by feed or email, and above all,.......


pssst.........It's really a huge, perfectly egg-shaped piece of basalt--with snow on it.  I guess it weighs about a hundred lbs. without the snow cap.

Is that Incoming I hear?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tales of the Supernatural: The Pearl Stickpin

 From time to time at Incoming Bytes we are compelled to explore the unusual, the weird, and the downright strange world of fiction.  I really like fiction.  I have to admit, this is just plain weird, but it's spring, weather's weird anyway,  so  I hope you enjoy it. 

   Tales of the Supernatural:  The Pearl Stickpin

It seemed to me that the woman was not a real woman at first, she looked kind of rough around the edges just a bit,  but  she wore a woolen coat and a grey pillbox hat with a nice white pearl stickpin in it.
 A tantalizing bit of evidence,  in retrospect, anyway.
 Not appearing to be a real 'woman'  or 'lady' --well, no matter.    She appeared at the door on a Tuesday,  and it was 7:00 o'clock on July 7th.  My birthday, too. July 7th.  I forget the year.  I just go by what Sam told me. He's my older brother, dead of the pox  too, just a bit of an idiot sometimes.  He even drove the tractor in the creek when he was 8 and started crying. Pop  had to get old Mose  from down the 4th  to pull it out.  It cost two bits  and he got whupped.  

She squinted up at me.  "It's about time you and your idiot brother answered the door. Do you care to tell me what you are still  doing in my house? This is still my house, after all."  
She looked at me kind of strangely.  Like she knew me or something.  How did she know I had an idiot brother?  I wanted to keep that quiet so I could use his driver's license.

I said, "Lady, I don't have any idea where you're from, but I lived here for 77 years, my idiot brother died of the 'scootch 67 years ago. I'm just guessing but that wasn't even so far off of the truth, considering everything.

  After all, I had stayed right there in the old farmhouse for 77 years.  Born here, ain't leavin'.     That's why the neigbours call me Old Gus, because I am old.  Seventy-seven, so they say.  I don't have a birth certificate -or a driver's license either, but they never asked me for one. Not in 67 years. I kept an old business card in the visor holder instead,  It said  "Lunatic Renovation Service"  from down in Hansenville, and when it wore out I used my brother's license.   It's got itself worn out too,  now-- dog-eared.  It was my father's license  back when, too.  No wonder he used it, no idiot boy can get a driver's license so ya' gotta get one from 'yer old man or somethin',  somehow.

"Are you sure?" the woman asked.  "You don't know me, do you, sonny?...How come you you're looking so old?" 
"I got the scootch, like my idiot brother, he died of it already, 67 years ago, " I answered without thinking, it wasn't her business anyway, but I blabbed that to old Mose so often it didn't matter a whole lot,  "so he's dead an' gone  anyway".
Now she really  had me nervous because I have to admit I didn't know who she was. I guess I forgot.  She looked about thirty-five years old and had green eyes.  Tantalizing green eyes.   I got green eyes too, like a green-eyed shot-back ghost-colored  dog.
"I'm 'yer maw,  don'cha even know 'yer own maw?"  She said. "It's 'yer birthday, boy".
"I don't got any maw or old lady, she died when I was born,"  I said, " that's what the old man told me and my idiot brother and that's the truth, I swear". 

She sat down in the rocker,  a brown maple one. It groaned.
 "This was my chair when you was in my belly," she said, frowning. " and after you boys got the pox  when you was six, an' no bigger'n a pup,  you sat right here on my knee, and I rocked you right to sleep good,  you was turned cold, too,   now you can't  remember your Maw.  That figgers."

"I don't want to argue none, I just don't remember" I said. 
 "So  you're  my Maw, want some tea?"
"No,"  she said,  "Tea gives me the shivers,  just like visiting live folks." 
She got up and walked through the closed door.   I shook my head in wonderment.  She kept the hat on but left the white pearl stick pin stuck in the wood door.  I don't know why she does that.   
I ain't  never touching that stick-pin.  It gives me the shivers too. Like visiting live folks

Funny.  I remember I wanted to live 'till I was old enough to get a real driving license.


Is that incoming I hear?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Disaster fix: Tile a While

Tile a while...Wall

At Incoming Bytes mayhem and destruction happens once in a while, giving me cause to scratch my head in wonderment at why things happen, mixed in with a bit of    anger and hair-pulling pragmatic rage frustration.
 Savvy and financially strapped homeowners all realize that at times, it seems things fall apart faster   than they can be repaired with  a capable home-renovation crew of twenty caffeine-boosted bubblegum chewing workpeople. 

Such was the exterior drywall surface  right beside an exterior door of mine;  you got it, the door to freedom for my demolition-team  pups.
 The first time it happened, the door trim was chewed off and shredded, the adjacent drywall was almost non-existent, and exterior insulation was torn out--all the way to the exterior sheathing. A chunk of the door jamb itself was missing.
It was midnight, and a major social gathering was scheduled for the next day, so it was a night watch
panic repair -including a careful  cutout of  remaining shredded wood on the door jamb, and the necessary replacement,  fill,  and paint.
  On the wall,  I cut out the damaged drywall completely,  re-insulated the wall cavity,  installed new drywall,  taped, filled, sanded, and top-coated again, sanding  all the way to- perfection.
Objective: To finished painting and trim, included, that is!   Invisible, perfect job, finished  at 3:00 am- or was it 4:00am.
 I am fast and good.   A competent workman when I have to be.   Kudos to me.  Used the wife's hairdryer to accelerate paint drying too.  Cool.    Sometimes it's just good to be handy.
Pups forgiven,  next day, party is  on! 
" Smells like fresh paint in here " someone comments.....

  That was the first time.   The second time, the lower cross-buck of  the $400.00  (1979 price !)   interior cedar door was  also chewed away, damage beyond repair. Door trim conveniently removed,chewed to bits and broken too, repaired  door jamb shredded again,  and drywall again seriously damaged.  After only a couple of hours in absentia.  We're never leaving home again. Haywire pups.    
It is surprising what you learn.  We did not know that interior air so carefully filtered with a modern air-conditioning system  could  turn so  unprintable blue.  I should have pictures or kept a Mason Moonshine jarful of the blue stuff  for proof.

   *sigh.  Sabbatical required. Cool down.  Cooler heads almost prevail.   Decisions necessary.  Replace the whole door unitOnly seven hundred bucks.   Install the new door unit, jamb, new lock set  and all.   Insulated steel door this time.   Repair the drywall again, prime and paint, install new interior trim,  job well done!  Party on! 

It does, however, seem that  Tilly the Tall and Ebony the Short have OCD  a  psychiatric compulsion history of wanting out NOW, walls in the way, doors closed or not . Why?

 A brief diversion  will reveal to the aware  that whenever  Mr. Buck and Ms DoeWillie the wolf,  Charlie Coyote, Peter Rabbit, Mega-moose   or  Bear himself happen to appear close at hand in the  Great Outdoors, things happen.   If they even  smell like they're within a country mile or three,    the friendly pooches want to see which of their friends is invading.
  Human visitors of the door- knocker kind,  a casual pickup truck or  touristy  turn-arounders a half mile away, the curious,  dilapidated lost seeking directions  or not, they all inspire the same effect.
Our research proves that  Sam the Weasel, Murray Mink  and Pierre le Stink  don't help either, five times out of five.   The dedicated dogs  want out  or the innocent handiest wall is doomed.

Off comes the broken trim. Again.  Paint layers scratched off. Again.  Enough of that. 
Tape the joints, sand, prime and paint it, and replace shredded, broken trim. Innocent pups  are required watch judiciously as repairs are made.
 Right, that oughta'  suffice -- until next time. And the time after that!  
What is the answer? High-strung pets may deface walls repetitively.  I have resigned myself to that distinct possibility.     

Ka-ching!  Think stainless steel, bullet-proof glass overlaid with ceramic tile. Scratch-proof.  Right over top of the nice, perfect drywall repair. Perfect protracted thought.  I did it.

Ready to Grout!

 Yesterday I tiled a while and put an end to scratches, bite marks and destruction. More than half-way up the wall for good measure.  Ha! 

I can see it now.   I'll be longing for the good old days.   Tape the joints, sand, prime and paint it, and replace shredded, broken trim.  I can do it with my eyes closed and one arm tied behind my back, midnight or not. I've got experience.
 Right, that will suffice -- until next time. And the time after that!  High-strung pets may deface walls repetitively.  May? Will? Did!   Emergency repair withdrawal, cold turkey.
What is the answer?   Remind myself again. Real life. Haul out the wallet. Head to the building center.

Ka-ching!   Ceramic tile. Scratch-proof.  Bite-proof. Woof-proof.   Tile a while and put an end to scratches, *bite marks and destruction.  I'm recommending it to everyone. Party's on!

*Note to myself.  Level surface grout so there's no place  to insert teeth, fangs or claws.  

 I've got'em beat now.  Maybe.

Is that incoming I hear?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reckless Relaxation & The Job List

The Age of Light is upon Us 

Snooze Preamble:
March 13th, an atypically warm spring day for Northwestern Ontario.   Silence, brilliant sunshine surrounds us  with a bit of  a breeze that waves branches gently. Blue sky deviously lulls the senses. 

 It seems we have a bad case of reckless relaxation about to sprout.
Except for the job list that is. The job list.  The what?  Who in their right mind would plan that?  Who wrote that on there?  Let us scream wax poetic.

               The Job List!    ( a.k.a. the You're my honey so 'ya gotta do it" list )
  • Oh Raymond dear! We love you so
  • But here's another job , Oh Oh !
  •  Fix this!  Fix that!   ---and by the way,
  • Please change the bath tub
  • Right away!  

*sigh.  I'm a Jack of all trades but  I'm not a poet ,  but you get the idea.   My friend  Christyb,  who happens to be a real poet might have to fill in with a real poem. 

   It is one of  those special days, after all,  the  ' It's spring,  we do not wanna-be scheduled to do anything' variety  that soaks up all energus directus perambulus
Instead, dawdling  exudes  in every  necessary direction.

 Days like this take no  direction on purpose.  It must be contagious;  our alert readers have  cleverly  noted that one day influences the next, and the next necessarily in order.
Where did Monday go?  I really don't know.  -You seen it?   It didn't leave any tracks.

Mid-day Progress Report:
 We're making progress.   This  perfect,  late, lazy morning morphed  pleasingly and  perfectly  into a  snoozy afternoon that must have been  destined to be.  If the current rate of progress continues, it seems it must also propagate a perfect specimen of  the take-it-as-it-comes kind of evening too.
What a cool progress report.  

The job list.
  Right. I conveniently forgot.  Back to it.    The magnet on the door of the humming refrigerator  offers the list  boldly  and  ominously on a big Post-it note. It's  bullet-point smile instills  guilt every time I sneak-attack the kitchen for an innocent, tasty snack.  The list is evil,  all-knowing, persistent as mold,  living to  haunt  another day. My day.
Let's  give evasive tactics some deep thought.
 Perhaps reckless relaxation has something  to do with the uncharacteristic warmth, unusually sunny days, snow melting,  and such. Along the south side of  the house the crocuses and  day lilies are not even popping up yet, unlike gardening zeitgeist Glory Lennon's.  Maybe I can get Glory to persuade them to sprout.   Hers are up already, but mine are not in any hurry. Are they not a formidable and perfect example of snoozy procrastination to offer and emulate?
 A dearth of Energy.
 We happily cannot navigate  the garden yet,  there's still a foot of snow on it. Good thing. Not enough energy exists in China or in my back yard to dig up that stuff or  move mud anyway.
Happily, and coincidentally,  there's also not enough energy to navigate  any  tough job on the  evil "You're my honey so 'ya gotta do it " list  either.
Other assorted Excuses
Perhaps for excuses we could, in a pinch,  revert to blatant logic.  To start something you have to do something else first. That's a great standard  DIY rule isn't it?  Where would we be without that rule?  
Paint, but move this first,  fix that before you can move this, Let's say, and --woot wooot!   I haven't got the right nails to fix that first. Oops.  I might get some tomorrow. Get the paint too,  while I'm at it, and even save  a trip.  See how helpful that rule is?
 Makes sense to me. R & R persists, with a bit of tweaking and wooting and creative planning.
The Ruse of Logic
Logic also explains why we should not shovel  snow or chip away ice that should forthrightly be melting on it's own paranormal schedule.    It melts slowly, that might be just as well.  Let the snow melt slowly so the water can soak into the ground.  It can schedule itself.   That's a perfect excuse for any farmer or rural type, it's even logical,  so, we'll schedule ourselves to work hard at relaxing instead --but just in case, I winked and wrote it on the evil list :  Let snow melt slowly so the water can soak into the ground. 

 Night time insomnia might persist,  but  sunny day-time snoozing gloriously beckons and insists. 
 At Incoming Bytes,  the sun is shining. I'll have to  persuade  Christyb at Poetic Parfait  to write a poem about it.  Glorious snoozing,....er... no, maybe spring and reckless relaxation, ...er, no,  the job list,   I meant.
 Christyb is always smiling and  listening for new  incoming. Meantime, I feel a snooze coming on.

  • Do you like lazy days? 
  • Do you fear the 'job list' and procrastinate as much as possible? 
  • Do you like snoozing on sunny afternoons?
  • Have you written any poems about your job list? 

Is that Incoming I hear?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Paranoia Paradox : Fear and Profit

The Age of  Light is Upon Us

"Shall we  surround ourselves with  conveniently out-of-sight security devices, imagining  that we are somehow safer?  "     

Saturday morning.  I saw it right away upon opening up my last post on Incoming Bytes .    A sidebar security advertisement  neatly installed on the page by a commercial  service called  AdSense.   AdSense places  ads on this blog  automatically, depending upon the content type on the page.   No matter.  What grabbed my eye was that the advertisement itself  was for alarm systems,  security cameras, and home automation. Turn down the thermostat. Turn up the thermostat. Flip on the porch light.  C'mon, really.  There has to be some other purpose.  Could it be commercial-social profiteering, happiness in profiting from a genuine paranoia paradox?

 The subliminal message, if seriously given any thought-- is  fear.  Get security stuff. Stay safer, click on the ad and buy security stuff.  Get home automation stuff while you're at it, so you don't actually have to do anything,  get motion detectors. We wouldn't want to have to do anything like turn on the lights, or confront invaders, assailants, rapists,  or thieves by firing warning shots at  their sorry asses them  as they try to flee genuine justice.  In some jurisdictions it is now legal to fire warning shots at their sorry asses.  That may be a good thing.  Whatever happened to the bright, edgy signs  carefully advising perps that homes and businesses are    "Protected by Colt" ?

My last post "Who killed Gail Parker: Solve this 19-year old Cold Case! " left me wondering just how it is that society can 'sell and promote security" but  allow murderous, insane scumbags individuals and  lunatic cold-blooded thieves  to walk around free for many years, reveling in their warped, twisted lives,  while the families of victims, like Danielle Parker,  the innocent victim's daughter,  mourn for years on end without closure.
Why?   In my opinion,  that status quo is hypocrisy;   the status quo  is not good enough.  That all-too-common  situation is  pervasive and unacceptable inside the 'secure' home, out in the desert, or in the big city.   That is not justice, nor is it reasonable  social policy.

Social paranoia has been building globally and  steadily  since 9 /11.    It's been coming on for some time, but the level of paranoia in the world with  current wars, rumors of  wars,lunatic dictators,   nuclear meltdowns,  nuclear armament,  financial meltdowns,  earthquakes, floods, tornadoes,  predictions of doom --even failed ones --seems to be skyrocketing.  Edgy, gloomy  economics, unemployment, job outsourcing, and multi-million-dollar CEO self-entitlement 'bonuses'  for gutting previously-respected, long-trusted company structures, and the rich becoming richer as average people struggle -- are not helping. 
  Is this instability a result of apocalyptic thoughts of doom,  the last desperate flash of humanity,  solar storms currently trendy, or just the collective brainwashing and publicity surrounding all of the above?

  Is it because human beings are inevitably self-destructive,  or is it because we are collectively stupid, dumbed down, blissfully watching television, soaking it all up like it's truth or something -- and pretending we knowledgeably live the good life?

Shall we  really surround ourselves with  conveniently out-of-sight security devices, imagining  that we are somehow safer?  I think not.

The fact is, until civilization matures globally, and society no longer panders to thugs, criminals,  murderers, devious, dishonest power-mongers, corporate profit  and  political ideology driven by dishonest, fanatical religion and hypocrisy, the paranoia paradox will continue to grow.  At Incoming Bytes we invite the reader to think for themselves, make decisions, let the light in,  discover who we really are,   --and live without fear.

Is that Incoming I hear?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Who Killed Gail Parker? Solve this 19 year old Cold Case!

"Murder is not entertainment, just ask me."

 That motto, cleverly devised by  the group  'Homicide Survivors'  says it all.

 Clever mottos  printed hopefully  on survivor T-shirts may raise awareness, but  are clearly alone not enough to solve  'Cold Cases' sitting in dust-covered  cardboard boxes  labeled with forgotten names and numbers.   

Just ask Danielle Parker, a young woman and  career writer-journalist-columnist, who lost her mother in an unsolved  robbery-murder case that occurred in  Tucson, Arizona. 

Has the concept of real justice disappeared from the old West? 

Nineteen years ago, on March 6th, 1993,  a person, or persons unknown,  robbed and murdered  51- year- old Gail Renee Parker,  brutally bludgeoning her to death.  
The unknown  murderer(s)  has (have) never been identified, located or arrested in spite of  forensic evidence including DNA from blood samples from under the victim's fingernails  and other evidence collected by Tucson police.  Gail's handbag was found by a fisherman out of state --in Utah.  

Unbelievably, on  March 6th, 2012,  the nineteenth anniversary of this horrific crime,   --the  murder of Gail Parker remains unsolved, and is considered to be a 'Cold Case" file.

Why?  Questions require answers.

Why was this case NOT deemed a Federal murder case?  Was Gail too average, too ordinary, too middle-aged, or just not sexy enough for the FBI to be involved?

Were the FBI too busy, too understaffed, too inexperienced,   too underfunded, too  afraid of the potential outcome, or warned  off by State police in a stupid, arrogant but classic television-drama artificial  jurisdiction turf war?   Were they busy watching NCIS for new investigative techniques?  
 Why was this case ever  sidelined and allowed to go cold?

 At Incoming Bytes we believe there has to be a reason why this case has been shelved and  ignored. 
 Are unsolved, "Cold Cases"  qualified or  callously disqualified for further attention on the basis they will not be  high-profile enough, or glorious enough to satisfy egos and prompt promotions? We can only speculate. Readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions.
   The question of the day must be:   Which set of factors determines if a murder case will receive the attention all murder cases warrant --or if  it is to  be ignored, filed, and forgotten?  

It seems to me that with modern forensics being so available, so blatantly flaunted with modern technology-, the answer to this brutal  cold case is there for the taking.  What will be done about it? Who will step up and take responsibility for it?  When?

Danielle Parker, the murder victim's loving daughter,  wants to know.   She is a writer.  A columnist for the Huffington Post.  I know of her plight only through FaceBook--but that should not minimize the fact she deserves help, our respect and peaceful  closure in the loss of her mother.  She would be the first person to say "Murder is not entertainment, just ask me."
Equally, her victimized mother -- Gail Renee Parker-- was an active woman,  a  beloved mother, --and above all, a human being that deserves that much respect. 

At Incoming Bytes we would like to encourage our readers and everyone possible  to help Danielle Parker find out who murdered Gail Renee Parker on March 6, 1993  in Tucson, Arizona. 

 Has he killed other innocent victims since?  Is he a serial killer ? Can this brutal, violent  crime be connected to other victims?

  The guilty person(s) are  walking around scot-free.  Are they living in Canada?  In Mexico?   Where is this murderer?  Was it a murderous couple? 
 Are they living next door to you?   

|If you have any * information on this crime, contact :
  • Tucson Police Department at (520)-791-4444.
  • The F.B.I.  (Federal Bureau of Investigation )
  •  The R.C.M.P.  ( Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in Canada
  •  CRIMESTOPPERS  in any jurisdiction in North America

Is that Incoming I hear?


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Snowmobile Stupidity: The Ultimate Tragedy

Avalanche conditions! Avoid High-Marking!

Again. It happens every year, so I was not surprised at all to hear  that just recently,  another snowmobile enthusiast was killed by an avalanche in Whistler, B.C. 

At Incoming Bytes our hearts and thoughts go out to the families of  this individual;  may they find solace, peace and strength in their faith.
The question that will be ultimately asked is, "Why did this happen ?" 

Unfortunately, everybody knows why, but society  really not care to address reality or make positive changes to avoid the fact.  It is stupidity. Lack of judgement. Lack of common sense.   It is, in fact, a "no-brainer". 

 Which part of  "Steep slopes covered with deep crystallized snow create dangerous avalanche conditions"  do snowmobile enthusiasts not understand?  

 Which part of  "entering, traversing or high marking in avalanche-prone areas is stupid !" do snowmobile enthusiasts not understand?
Why is the 'rush' of "high marking" a pristine, dangerous slope with a powerful snow machine  more important than life itself?  
Charging full-speed up a mountain slope covered with steep snow,-- and pulling a U-turn sharply might be a 'rush' or a 'thrill' and an extreme sport,  but  is a dangerous, foolish practice!

In avalanche-prone areas, disturbing deep snow at any time is ASKING to create an avalanche.
  Later in the season when snow begins to crystallize and becomes as  unstable as a blanket of ball-bearings if disturbed, an avalanche is almost guaranteed. 
Sadly, some people apparently never learn --and even the most skilled machine operators may end up paying with their lives for a temporary  lack of judgement , a 'friendly competition"  or a ego-drooling  dare.

 Hopefully, the snowmobiling associations and sports community  in Whistler, B.C.  and elsewhere will now, -- once again,  make an effort to instil some common sense, and  discourage the practice of "high-marking" .  Better yet, sled elsewhere.  Use common sense and stay OUT of avalanche-prone areas, period.

Is that incoming I hear?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Boys in the Box

The Boys in the Box  (c)*

In the fascinating and challenging world of writing, bloggers are supposed to be cool,  trendy, terrific, run a virtual blogopoly  and be prolific too.
 Ideally, at Incoming Bytes   we  they  I should  post every day. Write, write , and write  right !    Be informative, tuned in,  exciting, and ultra-productive.  [ head shake ]  
 Like many others, ----well, um..... I don't always hit that lofty goal. 

We have yet  to  figure out  how to write with a blank mind.   The Muse is noticeably absent.  (that would be M.M. -- a.k.a.  Missing Muse)     Where is he?   (she?)  What gender is a muse anyway?
We must be creative,  perfect,  prolific.....tear our hair out brilliant  full of info,  and also be readable, well-paid and fascinating.  Haha!   Meditate...how to solve that problem must be the official question of the day.   Stay amused, contemplate,  while kid-sitting,  watch the boys playing in a cardboard box.
After only 11,006 hits and 146 posts later  at Incoming Bytes the tabula rasa  is blank.  Nada.   No Monday  brunch word crunch scratched in that clay.   We're compensating by  sabbatical-schmoozing, vegging, recovering from Sunday,  crumpling up old papers and drinking coffee,  but there's  nothing cooking up there in the gray matter.  How come?   

 Cooking?  I'm hungry. Maybe a sandwich. Food. Too early. The boys in the box are still playing.

(concentrate, read- read- read- read ).......Two hours later.......um....

 Eureka! the ultimate solution. Maybe......
   Out in Vancouver someone is offering a blogger, any blogger,   $50,000 to eat at restaurants every day and presumably blog daily  about the bad service, ptomaine poisoning and stomach-stapling required  upon retirement. Some kind of culinary  scam promotion to suck in lure hungry tourists.
...... Let's see, there are over 800 restaurants in  Vancouver, that could even turn out to be a two year job.  The mind might be empty, but the belly  would be full  of  roast beef,  French   fries, Sum Ting Dumb or sum ting Dim Sum .  And the wallet would get fat too,  tips bribes included.
  I can see I need a timely   fun food-filled  vacation in B.C.....

Maybe the  Muse is already  on vacation, maybe he (she ? what gender is a Muse anyway??   ) is mindfully playing out in the brilliant March sunshine.  Wearing cool  Elvis Presley  shades of course,  UVA and  UVB rays, get it, and boots and gloves and a toque--those funny Canadian hats that squeeze  your brain out onto the snow  and give you mid-day bed-head.      No wonder everybody's  pointing and laughing

  Ah,  so what, why not risk it,  the Muse needs fresh air too . Whiskey-Jacks in the Jackpines.  Muse walks a country road,  two inches of new snow. Push snow sticks.  That's a tall  walking stick  pushed nonchalantly and thoughtfully along  the road  in the snow in front of  Muse.  Kind of like reverse dragging, keep  in mind  the high end  is purposefully held in a safe position.   Burns calories.  Extra mundane stuff.      Walk fast or jog,   snow-stick  throws snow like a mini- snowplow on steroids.   Kind of cute.   Slow down,  road-clearing action stops.  Walk faster,  lazy Muse.  Toss that snow.  
Dreaming...   Back in the yard, Muse  draws funny faces in  pristine frozen rain.  Make snow art.    Smilies, three or four in a row -all different.  Why not use Muse's  snow art portfolio too.  

 Work at it,  persist,  patience, persist,  after all, -- so far, --- it  took  146 posts and 11,006  hits  to empty the mind.  With another 446,003  posts and 3,698,000 gazillion   hits yet to come,  can the mind be willfully  refilled ?
 If not, off to Vancouver for lunch.Only 2500 miles for lunch.
We'll see.  Drive or fly? Decisions.   Which restaurant would we bloggerate  first?  Sum Ting?   Chicken Boy? Beef Reef?  Pizza-La-La-La ? 
We'll  consult with Chef Le Muse.    Where does  Le (La) Muse apply? ommmm....ommmmmm.......dreaming  prolific already...Dreaming, dreaming....

 Back at it, wide awake.  It must have been the snoozing and  schmoozing.  The revelation.   Wake-up coffee.  Watch the Boys in the Box  playing some more.   "Hey, boys,  climb out of the box, time  for lunch!"  
 Think outside of the box.... there's no snow in Vancouver.
Ohh! ....Got it!  ...There it isoutside of the box...

Is that incoming I hear?

Photo credit    *(c) r.a.kukkee 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bonsai: Specialized Techniques Creating Unique Trees

Special Techniques can produce Spectacular Bonsai   Photo www. coolgizmotoys.com

Here at Incoming Bytes we admire the durability and tenacity of trees. Do you?  Most gardening types do.   Trees thrive, existing against all odds  in difficult, brutal weather conditions.  Trauma to  natural trees is caused by forest fire, stripped bark, torn wood, loss of branches, --and in the extreme, crowns and trunks are easily snapped off. All trauma causes damage; nature does her best to repair it,  and therein lies the secret to creating special bonsai!

Callus growth: Nature's Repair
  Disease, insects,  and drought conditions over long periods can also cause major or partial die-back of normally healthy, large trees, leaving only a small part of the tree to survive. Have you ever seen very old trees with large portions of the trunk wood  exposed, weathered and dry without bark,  yet there is a  narrow strip of live, healthy bark remaining?

  On these trees, perhaps only a substantially-reduced section  of the crown --or   a single branch -- of necessity--may display live foliage.
 In   higher elevations,  trees subjected to extreme conditions barely survive year to year with extreme swings in temperature, ice and snow, blowing sand, disease, insects, little water,  and brutal, constant wind.  Trees grow  as they must to survive under such conditions, and are often stunted, distorted natural creations of great, but tragic beauty.
   The damaged or threatened tree in nature always compensates  by sealing damage quickly and allowing the equivalent portion of foliage to die back.   The  remaining section of live bark and trunk will then  be capable of providing adequate nourishment for the remaining foliage until the tree repairs itself with callus growth when possible.

   Venerable old bonsai  in highly valued collections often display these characteristics that have developed naturally or otherwise.  Such features  may be created by careful manipulation of  otherwise ordinary, normal trees.

 You can create this natural illusion with bonsai, -- using specialized techniques. For now, let us concentrate on  trees displaying  a simple strip of live bark and wood.  In the following photo, only a small portion of the tree trunk  seems to be  alive and growing.  Is it an illusion? Study it carefully.

Create Bonsai:  Old and New Spirits of the Forest Joined (c) 2012

In fact, the image is a 'tree in design'  or  'tree under construction'  using our  special technique of  joining old and new. Note the fascinating facial character on this silvered, weathered  piece of driftwood. Looks kind of old and grumpy, doesn't he?

Let's get artistic and duplicate that natural  process right here in your workshop or potting shed.
By the way, there's no hurry. It takes time. You can start developing a pseudo-trunk any time, even in mid-winter, and find a live tree later.  The project can actually be as fancy or as simple as the piece of wood you are fortunate enough to discover.

To create a bonsai with that image, you will first need :
  •  a suitable  piece of a natural  tree, which can be root wood, a branch, or  a silvered piece of driftwood 10" to 16" long. Your selected piece of wood will become the  pseudo-trunk of your new bonsai.   The size  you need depends  how  large or tall you wish your bonsai to be.  Old trees in nature usually have a noticeable, developed taper on their trunks, so your chosen piece of wood should be naturally tapered to a  larger buttress at the bottom.  Wood must be free of decay -and the more it looks like an old,  natural, but miniaturized 'tree trunk' the better.  Suitably placed "dead branches', splits or cracks are acceptable and can be a beautiful accent.
  •   A young,flexible, healthy living tree  of suitable height with very little taper and few branches --but a healthy root system. If it is bare-root nursery stock, prevent the the roots from drying  out by planting it in damp peat moss or other suitable medium temporarily.  Species can be almost any variety suitable for bonsai. Juniper is a bonsai favourite, as are many hardwoods such as Trident maple.
  • Ordinary tools:  you probably already have some if you are a do-it-yourself person:  A small saw, narrow chisel and hand wood carving tools will do. 
  •  Pencil or pointed  black marker
  • Environmentally-friendly wood preservative and paint brush
  •  Pliers and Tools suitable for pruning (secateurs,  hand clipper or bonsai tools)
  •  A suitably sized plastic training pot,  ie. 10" .
  •  peat-moss based, free-draining potting soil.
 Let's get at it!  Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for this project, you are not only the creator but  the beholder!

 Take time to carefully study the piece of deadwood (driftwood, root wood, branch material) for the most attractive, natural  presentation of the material at hand.
Determine the 'bottom' of the new 'trunk' and mark it.
  The bottom of the pseudo trunk will sit neatly on the surface of the potting soil.  Carefully cut the bottom to the correct angle.   Be safe, use gloves, eye protection and caution when using tools.

Stand the trunk in the predetermined position and visualize where the 'top' of the trunk might terminate. The ultimate design  of the foliage of the live tree and the overall artistic  vision desired will determine where the 'top' of the deadwood will be.
Remove any excess wood or undesirable sections. Carve the top to the desired shape.
Tear the wood fiber back to simulate a broken, torn top if desired, using pliers.
 Smooth and wire-brush the remaining surface to the desired texture, keeping in mind the surface you are simulating is  a natural. aged tree trunk.
Treat the wood with environmentally tree-friendly wood preservative or lime sulphur and allow it to dry thoroughly. Pay special attention to the base and  surface that will  come into contact with the soil when  established in the pot. 

Decide the best visual route of attachment for the live tree to follow.  A sketch to visualize the finalized appearance of the tree could come in handy.

Mark and carve your chosen path for the  groove or "channel'  into the length of  the driftwood, ensuring the most natural routing, following the natural grain and twist of the dry wood. The depth of the channel should be approximately half of the diameter of the trunk of the new tree, and at depth, the groove should be marginally wider than at the surface. When prepared carefully the trunk should fit snugly into the channel.

Before you fit the tree into the carved channel, ensure the root of the live tree is  first adequately pruned with the main tap root removed, and remember to leave as many small feeder roots intact as possible. Keep the  roots moist at all times.

When the tree fits correctly,   score and remove a small strip of the live bark from the new tree  just at or below the depth of the groove for the  length of the live tree on both sides where the deadwood will contact the live tree.  You may or may not wish to treat the 'damaged' area of the live tree with growth hormone.  My project tree was left untreated.

Time to join the old and new!  
Carefully place and fasten the tree  into the groove.  Remember, the tree must be held in place securely, as it will attempt to 'push itself out' of the groove as it grows in diameter.

Use small blocks of wood fastened in place with handy wire, and/ or plastic tie-wraps-- to avoid damaging the  live tree with the wire.   Since trees always repair themselves by growing a callus on the edges of damaged bark, the 'damaged' area will respond and begin to heal itself.   The tree grows larger  in diameter in the groove, filling it, and eventually  the callus growth will lock the live trunk tightly in place naturally --although it may take several growing seasons to do so.

"Plant"  your new custom-designed combination tree in a training pot, leaving the " ancient trunk" sitting  slightly above the soil, or even 'offset'  for the first couple of growing seasons.  Why? Because your live tree may need to be replaced if it is accidentally dried out or otherwise fails to  grow.  No point in wasting all that preparatory work on the beautiful, artistic  one-of-a-kind trunk! ) 

 Check regularly during each growing season to make sure the 'live' tree is held securely in the groove, and adjust the retaining wires and blocks as necessary to avoid leaving ugly wire marks on the live bark.

After 3 or 4 growing seasons, the wires and blocks can be removed.  If additional 'channel infilling' is needed in areas, carefully score the live bark along the 'join' seam on each side of the live bark. Use a sharp knife and do it in early spring, just as  sap begins to run.  Callus growth will soon fill in the channel completely. 
Keep the tree alive, watering regularly.  New crown growth may be slow, but, as with all growing things, you have time on your side! Prune off any dead or undesired branches.
If your tree is growing rapidly, start pruning and shaping after the first season.  Be careful not to loosen the tree from the deadwood.
The  tree in our demonstration ,  a White Spruce, (Picea glauca)   has been in process and allowed to grow undisturbed  for 5 years.  Notice the crown is only now growing happily. *Note how  the  unique pseudo-trunk was 'offset' by notching the plastic pot to accommodate the final design. Excessive roots will once again  be pruned off to encourage root growth under the "trunk"  when re-potting the tree into a new  pot.

Extra Grumpy & twiggy -- *offset from training pot
In this photo Grumpy  just been removed from the growing shelf (November) to  be bedded down for the winter. Looks pretty upset, doesn't he?  See the grumpy faces?
 In the spring it will be time to re-pot  our new creation and carefully determine the final design of this healthy foliage.    "Twiggy", but healthy-looking, isn't it?
This somewhat stubborn  tree grew and progressed very , very slowly.  It was grumpy,  resisting putting out any new growth for a couple of years,  but we  insisted.
Foliage will be be  selected, pruned and shaped early in the spring and the dry wood will again be treated with wood preservative.

By the way, who says trees don't respond to kindness ?    Study Grumpy's face again...
 Grumpy is bedded down for the winter.  He's already sound asleep. See?

Grumpy is sleeping, bedded down for the winter.

Patience on a bonsai project of this type is essential, but patience learned is also one of the appealing aspects of  the art of bonsai.  Depending on your geographical location, perhaps even after only a  mere couple of growing seasons,  your live bonsai will be healthy and thriving.  It will then be time for you  to get creative and practice  the art of designing your live foliage.  Try this technique, and don't forget to photograph the progress as you go!
Maybe your tree won't be as grumpy.  Have fun!

Is that Incoming I hear?