Year End 2013

Lee's CornerA Chilcotin Sunrise, taken on the way to Williams Lake early Dec

‘Twas the spring from Hell!

I have been increasingly lame for some years due to arthritis, and it was suggested that all my problems would be solved with a knee replacement. I knew that recovery would not be instant but nearly 9 months after the operation it is still giving me trouble: I am probably just as lame as I was before going into hospital, although in a different way. However, I am, at least, no worse. I’m getting around pretty well, but the knee is still swollen and I cannot bend it without pain, therefore things like going downstairs, getting in and out of a vehicle, and climbing ladders are painful. Apart from that, though, my health is pretty good so I probably shouldn’t complain.

I am also lucky in all my friends. An ex-Nuk Tessli client hosted me for 2 weeks in Vancouver after the operation. I usually visit the coast in November during a book tour and was amazed at the gorgeous weather we had down there in April. Spring flowers overflowed everywhere, especially the cherry blossoms, which were at their peak. I could not drive legally for 3 months so managed to arrange for 4 different people to drive me home: in all, I begged help from 10 of my friends to smooth my way post op, and although I was probably not the best patient, I cannot thank them enough. On the way home, we picked up a young volunteer who was going to act as a driver and factotum for me at Ginty Creek for a while. He was a pleasant enough young man but obviously had virtually no experience as a driver and most of the time we were on the highway my heart was in my mouth.

For my first full summer at Ginty Creek (having sold Nuk Tessli the year before) I expected to get a lot of work done on the house. But the heavy-duty painkillers and general disability dragged me down; also I had to spend a lot of time exercising and icing with my leg raised and there seemed to be no resources left for anything constructive. Having someone around full time (for whom I usually had to cook) was also difficult for me.

I had quite a few volunteers throughout the summer, but some of those were almost useless. It is very scary to encounter so many individuals who might be very competent in their academic field, but who simply could not put 2 and 2 together in a practical mode. So carpentry work progressed very slowly until I began to have more energy, and by that time I had one or two better helpers. I now have the living room more or less sorted out, and have unpacked books and other treasures, some of which have been in storage for many years, so that was exciting. I also managed to do a lot of clean-up of the property, including burning the Packrat Palace. (If you don’t know what that is, read Ginty’s Ghost!) The attic, the basement, the half-built cabin, and the old cabin, however, are all disaster areas that need a lot of work. I shall leave tackling most of that for a couple of months. Such tasks are easier when the days are longer and the sun is stronger – besides, I must buckle down and finish book #11, which will detail the last 6 years of my time at Nuk Tessli. I hope to have that book out in the fall of 2014.

Finances have once again hit rock bottom. By the time I paid off debts, spent such a lot of money on the well and the solar power system, plus a new (old) truck and building supplies, most of the profit from the sale of Nuk Tessli disappeared. Until last year I never paid income tax in Canada but because Nuk Tessli was a business, I was faced with a large amount of capital gains tax, then had to pay medical (which I have had free up until now) and cannot claim a supplement to my old age pension, which started early this year. (I don’t get a full pension, either, because I have not been in Canada for 40 years – only 32 by the time I was 65.) All this moaning about money is not designed for sympathy, but to tell you that I must sell one of the two properties I own at Ginty Creek. It is the lower property down by the river. 40 acres more or less, 1/2 mile river front, rustic cabin in fairly good condition. Of course I would rather not have neighbours at all, so I am looking for someone who wants to use it for 2 weeks of the year….. Or at least someone who is congenial. I will be listing it when I get the cabin cleaned up in the spring. Pass the word around to your friends.

A few days ago, I went down to Stuie in the upper part of the Bella Coola valley for a solstice dinner. I came back with Ruby – a cat. I really did not want another animal – I shall not replace the dogs when they go – but a neighbour of my friends was quite suddenly taken to hospital and told he would not return home. He lived alone and had 2 dogs and a cat. The dogs have found homes but somehow the cat was volunteered to me. Given the chance, my dogs would kill cats so I have had to restructure the house with high walk-ways and cat doors to give the cat a fighting chance of getting in and out. So far she has stayed confined as she is somewhat timid, but in her old home she was used to being outside so I expect she will enjoy independence in due time. The dogs are allowed inside when I am home and all three animals have been in the living room together. So far there have not been problems but one dog in particular is VERY interested and I don’t doubt that when Ruby runs outside she will be considered fair game.

Well I knew it was not going to be an easy year, with the knee operation and all, but it is behind me and I also feel that there is an end in sight to the building work I have been struggling with for 7 years at Ginty Creek, and indeed over 30 years altogether. Although I must walk with care I can cover ground reasonably well with the aid of hiking poles and I expect to explore my local area quite a bit next summer. There are many peaks that I see from my window that have been tantalizing me for some time. I am even going back to Nuk Tessli to do some guiding. This will be a 4-day trip focusing on plants and birds, starting 22nd July. So all of you who have said that you wished you had gotten to Nuk Tessli before I left now have another chance to be there with me!

If you wish to see my adventures in detail, check out the blog: www.wildernessdweller.ca. If you would like to be informed when I make a new post, please send me your email address.

All the best for the winter season and the coming year.

Chris

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