Nuk Tessli 2015

common red paintbrush and coast rangeDoron Erel and I are offering a flower-power tour at Nuk Tessli from 19 – 22 July 2015.  Check out the details on the website.

(Please note that the website has not yet been updated – the info is for 2014, but it will be much the same this year.)

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Book tours 2015

Just a quick run-down.

20 – 22Feb.   Galliano Island Writer’s Festival.  En route I will be visiting Ashcroft on 17th (no venue organized yet) and on the 18th  I will be speaking at Maple Ridge library.

Middle two weeks October.  Slide show tour in the North Cariboo and Highway 16 west.  I shall try to visit:  Quesnel, Wells, Prince George (probably for the UNBC Craft Fair), Vanderhoof, Smithers, Burns Lake, Terrace, and Prince Rupert.  Any other suitable venue will be included.

(Please note that I would love to have a dog-sitter for that time!)



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Solstice 2014

Solstice 2014

22 viewIf you wish to read the full solstice 2014 newsletter, click here.

Otherwise, I shall simply wish you all the best for the coming holidays and year.  May your world be as beautiful as mine.


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Down the Bella Coola Hill

1. treeI had planned another trip down the Bella Coola Hill to visit my friends.  The last one was thwarted by the big snowfall and -36 temperatures.  This time, the weather looked not too bad in the forecast, but then I had the power problem (see previous post).  I did not want to risk going away overnight if I could not leave a light on under the sink to keep the reverse osmosis filter from freezing (it was such a pain to drain.)  So the trip was on again and off again – then suddenly we had half a day of intermittent sun.  That was all it took to charge my system up properly.  I could risk leaving the place overnight.

Before I left, I wanted to get my Solstice tree up.  If I ever manage to sell the river property, I will need another accommodation.  I plan on putting a yurt on this site, so felt no guilt in cutting down this scrubby little tree.

2. tree on toboggan

3. tree in houseThe following morning, to add to my peace of mind, it was brilliantly sunny.  The advantage of having a lot of crappy weather is that, when it is good, it is so unbelievably beautiful.

4 Hwy 20While a lid of ice fog had socked in my world, it had been lying at ground level along this section of Highway 20, and every needle and twig was covered with amazing hoar frost.  These little trees look like teddy bears.

5.  Frost.  Little treesThe willows were bowed down with the weight of the frost.

6. frost, willow

7. frost bushesFurther west, however, it was obvious that the weather was not going to be quite so good.

8. weather changeAt the top of The Bella Coola Hill, looking east, the burned trees still looked very pretty.

8a burned trees Looking the other way, however, it was obvious that I was going to plunge into warm gloom.

9 top of Hill

It was not long before I drove out of the snow and into thawing temperatures.  (Notice the bottom part of the hairpin bend on the left.)

10 hairpin bend

It had been colder before – many of the bluffs still sported curtains of icicles.

9a iciclesMy friends’ yard had almost no snow at all.

11 StuieFurther down the valley, it was pouring rain.

12 rain in valleyI had a wonderful visit.  It was still raining when I started up the Bella Coola Hill the following morning (which was yesterday.)

13 up Hill in rainHalf way up, the rain turned to falling snow.

14. into snowOn the Chilcotin part of Highway 20, I came upon a car in the ditch.  The ploughs make the edges of the road look flat, but sometimes the ditch is underneath.  I positioned myself to try and pull the car out, but I doubt my van would have managed it.  Fortunately, a guy with a big pickup loaded with firewood came along and, by putting chains on his truck he was able to pull the car back onto the highway.

15.  car in ditchIt was dark when I arrived home.  It was snowing quite hard, but the solar panels must have been clear for most of the day as the power was up.  The inside temperature of the house was about +7C so everything was fine.

And as the sun rose on this shortest day of the year, the sky was partially clear.

16. Solstice morningIt didn’t last more than about 3 hours, but it made for a very pretty morning.

17. Finger Peak.

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Winter Thaw.

1 rainI HATE winter thaws.  People often wish me a warm winter, but they are disasters.  They cause nothing but problems.

It rained, sometimes heavily, for two days. A few puffs of wind smashed lumps of snow off the trees into the windows, and loosened the snow on the roof, which fell off with great crashes.  The yard was a skating rink.  I could not cross the ploughed area – I had to go out the front door and tramp through unploughed, rotten snow (still as deep as the top of my winter boots) in a big circle just to get to the outhouse.  I did not dare try and drive anywhere – even chains and 4 x 4s would have had serious difficulties.  Once again I was watching the battery voltage guage.

Day 4 it cooled a little and snowed another 5″  That was better.

2 fresh snowIt was Friday, and therefore a mail day, and I risked a trip to Nimpo Lake.  I hoped the snow would have bonded onto the ice to give some traction.  Midday temperatures were just under freezing so the snow itself was very slick, but driving was quite good.  On the way home, the mountains were clearing.  Cooler temperatures were forecast and I thought that was the end of my woes.  Ginty Creek, however, was under one of those banks of fog.

3 half clearingThat afternoon, the lightened, illuminating one of the 9 pine grosbeaks currently visiting my feeder.  They are real Christmas card birds in the West.

4 grosbeak

The forecast was for mixed sun and cloud.  Don’t know who got the sun; we had only cloud.

5 dullAnd ice fog.

7 vague sun fog

6 forest

7a river gloomThe ice crystals on the twigs were different from the usual build-up of square plates.

8 ice crystals

After several more days, I was seriously worried about my power system.  I switched everything off at night, including the internet (which draws the most power), but although the guage read 23V at sundown, during the night, the figure dropped to 20.6.  I’d been warned not to go below 23 so this was alarming.  The following day, despite the gloom, the voltage crept up to 24.2, but overnight dropped to 20.6 again.  I needed to try and charge the batteries with my generator.

Trouble is, I wasn’t sure it would work.  The initial power system was a 12-volt one.  It was installed by Super Sarah’s Dad.  Since then, however, I have had a much bigger 24-volt system put in, installed by a local man (lives 2 hours’ drive away.) Trouble is, the local man was working in Alberta and not due home for a week.  And Super Sara’s Dad lives 7 hours’ drive away.  I needed to know if the battery-charging cord that was initially rigged up for the 12V system would work for the 24-volt system.  Super Sarah’s Dad could not tell me; eventually I got hold of the 24-Volt guy, Sam, but he could not remember what he had done 3 years ago.  He told me to take a look inside the magic box of tricks he put in the basement.  This involved undoing a couple of screws and easing open a door.  Trouble is, there were a whole bunch of screws and I didn’t know which ones to undo.  Too many heavy things were built into the door.  Sam told me I could run the computer with a power cord directly off the generator.  I was to send him pictures.

First I had to see if I could start the generator – it hasn’t been used for 2 years.  I dragged it inside to warm up (it was not very cold outside, about -12C), then dragged it back out, followed the instructions – and it fired up right away.  Then I started the internet – always a hit-and-miss fiddle after it has been disconnected, took pictures of what I thought were the right screws, and sent them to Sam.  He said he thought they were the right screws so I eased them out, and a heavy bunch of stuff swung open.  The door would not go far – I could barely get the flashlight inside.  I started the generator and the internet up again and sent Sam several pictures like this.

spaghetti wires

Believe it or not, he was able to figure out that the battery charge cable was indeed hooked up properly.

So I plugged it in.  It is the big cord on the right.

9a generator.I had used candles overnight, but still had power and could pump water from the well.  Shortly afterwards, this came up on the guage.

9 low batteryThe light on the left is by the word: Fault. When this happened, the inverter switched itself off.  I could no longer get water from the tap.

The generator ran all day.  The figures on the guage crept up to 24.2, but as soon as the dull day began to fade, they dropped down and again reached 20.6 overnight.  So it would appear that only the daylight was feeding any power into the batteries, and that was too gloomy to make much difference.  I tested it by switching the generator on again when I got up this morning, at 3.00:am, and ran it until day started to come – about 4 hours.  The guage remained the same.  So I had to conclude that, for whatever reason, the generator was not in fact charging the batteries.

I am like the solar panels.  I need sun to function.  Long dull spells run my batteries down.  I could never live at the coast. The long, dark nights don’t help, either.  The days, of course, are about as short as they get.  It is possible to read by angling the book to the window by 8.00:am, and too dark to see the page again by 4.00:pm.  So I have been existing by candles during the long darknesses.  Who said candles were romantic?  As far as I am concerned, they are simply a gloomy inconvenience.

Preparing vegetables

11 veg prep, candlesDoing the Globe and Mail Cryptic Crossword.  Kind friends send me these, and when I am alone, they are my dinner companions.  They prevent me from eating too fast!

12 crossword, candlesAnd as for water – there is a ton of it lying on the ground outside, but it is a drag having to shovel it into bowls and melt it.

13 melting snowI shouldn’t complain.  It wasn’t too long ago before these inconveniences were a normal part of life for me.  But when you get used to luxuries, life becomes frustrating without them. In fact, I am still pretty well off.   I have the generator to run the internet – I can hear it burbling in the background as I prepare this post.  I have plenty of food, wood for warmth and cooking, water for the shovelling, a phone, a vehicle to get out if I have to, and a road that is in reasonably good shape.

I was hoping to go to the Bella Coola Valley Friday.  On Saturday, my friends are running their local Christmas bird count.  I have not been down The Hill since the spring so am ready for a visit.  But even though the forecast temperature does not look too daunting, I can’t leave the place overnight without having a light under the sink, and I can’t switch that on until I can get the inverter to run again.  I already missed an earlier trip into the Valley due to the cold temperatures and heavy snow at the end of last month.  Will the inverter turn itself back on once the batteries are recharged? When will that happen?  This morning I could see my mountains for the first time in nearly 10 days.

14 gleam of sunDare I hope that some of that sunshine will get to Ginty Creek?  I quote (more or less) Piet Hein:

O sun, who giveth all things birth, Please shine down upon our earth.

If that request is much too grand, Please shine down on this our land.

If even that’s too much for thee, Shine at any rate, on me!






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