Happy Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, New Year etc.

rare-sunI had hoped to post this at the Solstice but am late so I will wish you all the best for Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year or whatever else you like to use to mark the turning of the seasons.

Every year I think that the next one will be better organized but all kinds of adventures seem to pop up, and 2016 was no exception.  I recently read that we all have to down-size to help save the planet, but I seem to be heading in the other direction!  For a run down on what happened, check out the newsletter on my website.    (See also the previous post.)

Anyone interested in a visit with me to Nuk Tessli next year, see the Nuk Tessli page of the website.

The other big item is my dog Harry’s new book!  He takes over from Lonesome and, with the help of his sidekick, Badger, tells the stories of all the other dogs that have been in our pack.  Harry has signed a contract with a publisher and the book will be out in the fall of 2017.

Wishing everyone the best health and happiness for the coming year.

Chris (and Harry, and Badger.)z-buddies-3

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Boxing Day 2016

snowflakes-1I had intended to write a Solstice post, but I have been so busy it has turned into a Boxing Day post.  (Did you know why it is called that?  It was England’s Queen Victoria who started it.  She deemed that on the 26th of December, boxes of food should go to the poor.)

The last post dealt with the -30s temperatures – the coldest it reached was -32C.2-33cThe afternoons would warm to about -20C and that makes for lovely hiking weather.1-sun-in-forest-badger

3-river-from-sth-bluffBut inevitably, the sun came to an end.  You can see a front coming in on the above picture.  There were clouds hovering at sunset.4-sunset-weather-change

5-sundown-redAnd the next day it was warmer, but the mountains had gone again.6-mts-gone

7-sun-gleamI made another trip to town.  Snow was forecast so I left an hour earlier than usual – 3.30:am – but saw moon and stars all the way.  I had thought that, with my earlier start, the road might be more empty, but I have never seen it so busy.  I must have met 50 logging trucks and a few other assorted vehicles in the first two hours.  The wet year has meant that a lot of the hauling had to be delayed because the bush roads were undriveable.  The mills in Williams Lake had almost run out of trees.  So now the trucks are hauling like mad.

It did snow a bit in Williams Lake, and it got quite warm – only a few degrees below freezing, and what with the salting, the roads became a sea of mud.  I don’t normally drive to Williams Lake so often in the winter, but this year I had stuff I wanted to do.  I have have received enough money from the property sale to enable me to buy a few toys!  I finally have my ATV!8-atv-trailerI also bought the trailer.  I used to be able to back a trailer quite well – but that was 50 years ago.  I did not think that the cramped yards in Williams Lake were good places for me to practice, so I left picking up the toys to last, and got the various vendors to point me in the right direction for home!

Both the morning and most of the afternoon journey (4 hours each way) were in the dark, so I couldn’t take pictures.  This was a pity as shortly after leaving town we had the most spectacular sunset.  However, with the excessive traffic on the road (throwing up walls of mud until it got a bit cooler as I travelled further west), the lack of places to draw off (one must be leery of the road sides under snow; the plough makes a nice flat edge, but the flatness often overhangs the lip of the ditch.  More than one motorist has come to grief that way), and the extra concern for the trailer meant that I did not dare stop.

I could see the ATV in my rear view mirror.  As it grew dark, whenever I touched the brakes, red light flushed against the trailer and the ATV’s headlights glowed like slanted devil’s eyes.

An ATV was not the only toy I bought.  I also got a plough for it.9-atv-ploughAlthough I had a lot of instructions from the dealer, it still took a bit of time to figure out how to put everything together.  More time was needed to get used to the controls and find the best angle for the plough.  Up to now it has always been a problem to find someone to plough me out, and I will still need to pursuade a heavy machine owner to come if we get a big dump of snow, but for now I have ploughing independence.10-ploughing-independenceYet another present to myself is a new camera!  I now have a Canon SX60. The view in front of me when I first put it together was the interior of my living room.  People have often asked to see more of where I live so I thought I would include it in this post.12-cabin-interior

13-cabin-2I love the new camera and can play with the really good zoom.  The weather has stayed mostly fairly mild and dull.  Sometimes, at the end of the day, there is a hint of what it might have been.glimpse-sunsetThe same camera is pretty good for close-ups.snowflakes-2The day before the Solstice, it was clear enough to see the sun go down.  How wonderful to think that it’s resting place will now travel back north again.solstice-sunsetUsually by this time of year, my bird feeder is full of pine grosbeaks.  Their lovely red plumage brightens up the winter.  But this year there is not a sign of them.  The cold snap must have encouraged them to go elsewhere.  All the birds that come are clothed in various shades of grey.  We have the chickadees, downy woodpecker, and grey jays.suet-feederLatterly, a Clark’s Nutcracker has also been visiting.  He is much the same size as a whiskeyjack, but has a shorter tail and much longer, stronger beak.clarks-nutHe is most interested in the bones I am feeding to the dogs.clarks-nut-boneOn warmer days the squirrel tries to sneak a few treats as well.squirrel


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Nuk Tessli 2017

long-meadowAlthough we booked a tour to Nuk Tessli for 2016, it did not eventuate.  We now have the dates for 2017 – July 14 – 18th.  If you wish to check out more details, go to the Nuk Tessli page on my site, or the Nuk Tessli website.

See other posts regarding Nuk Tessli – type the words in the search box.

Hope to see you there!

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SUN, SUN, SUN (But it’s Minus Thirty-One.)

2-minus-31-thermometreWe first had temperatures of minus thirty-one nearly 10 days ago.  I wanted to go to Williams Lake.  I didn’t want to leave the house for long in those temperatures (it’s 4 hours’ drive each way at this time of year), and my worry was that I would get stranded for some reason and be unable to get home.  I could have drained the plumbing before I left, but that would be a drag.  Also, there were the dogs.  They spend most of their time in my warm living room; they can let themselves out but not get back in.  The outer room, where they have their kennels, is also well below freezing when it’s this cold.  They can tolerate a lot but if I got stranded overnight, they would be in trouble.

Finally, only the van has a block heater – I certainly could not start any of the vehicles without heating the engine.  I have little enough power as it is to use the solar power – I would have to start the generator.  But the generator won’t start at these temperatures either.  It is on a little wheeled cart, and I can bring it indoors: however, it has a small gas leak so I can’t get it too close to the stove…..

Town days at this time of year have to be Tuesday or Friday as that is when the farmer’s co-op is open.  (They are open Saturday but the garage and a couple of other places are closed….)

The forecast was for warmer weather at the end of the week.  It clouded over and salted a bit of snow, and Thursday night the temp rose to -25C.  In the afternoon (-20C) I brought the generator into the outer room and opened the door to the living room.  Made the living room pretty chilly, but after an hour I could start the generator, and another hour later, I could start the van.

It was overcast again and only -18C when I left for town at 4.30:am, so the van was easy to start.  I decided to take the dogs in case I got stranded, and keep my fingers crossed regarding the plumbing.  It was supposed to stay mild for a couple of days.  (I had of course all emergency gear: sleeping bag, axe, chain saw, matches, food, and thermoses of hot water etc.)

Town was dreary and it even snowed a little, but it was a tropical -14C when I left.  Half way home I drove into hazy sunshine.  Logging is in full swing again now the ground is frozen; the trucks throw up a fog of snow dust behind them.5-road-logging-truckAbout an hour and a half from home, I even got a sunset.6-sunset-redstoneThe next morning was also quite mild (-18C) and I went to the school’s annual Santa Breakfast.  I took the dogs again and let Harry run part of the way along the road.7-harry-ice-faceThere is always a great catered meal,8-santa-breakfastand then the kids perform.  They gave a great concert of rousing songs – but this year there were only 13 or them!  (Two more attend school but were away.)  All the bigger kids went to Williams Lake last fall.  A bus picks them up on Sunday afternoon and brings them home Friday night.  During the week they are billeted.  The school lost 6 kids that way this year.  The powers that be would love to close it, but some of the kids would have to be bused over 2 hours each way to the next school – much too far for the little ones.  Fortunately there are a number of youngsters that will join in the next couple of years.

9-school-choirOnce again, I am handicapped by my very poor quality old camera so the indoor shots especially are very grainy.  (I have ordered another on line – may not get to me until the new year.)

As seems to be the norm these days, were were also entertained by the marvellous Thompson family.  Mum, Dad, and the middle boy in this picture.10-thompson-family-1The other two boys here.11-thompson-2They always play so well together, but their mum says it is very hard to get them to practice!

So I sneaked in a couple of days of events, but the forecast was now daunting.  The icons won’t reproduce here so all I can give you is the written version.

Today Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 15. Wind chill minus 41 this morning and minus 31 this afternoon. Frostbite in minutes.

Tonight Partly cloudy. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 32. Extreme wind chill minus 42. Frostbite in minutes.
Tue, 13 Dec Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 21. Extreme wind chill minus 42. Frostbite in minutes.
Night Clear. Low minus 32.
Wed, 14 Dec Sunny. High minus 21.
Night Clear. Low minus 29.
Thu, 15 Dec Sunny. High minus 21.
Night Clear. Low minus 34.
Fri, 16 Dec Sunny. High minus 21.
Night Clear. Low minus 33.
Sat, 17 Dec Sunny. High minus 17.
Night Clear. Low minus 26.
Sun, 18 Dec Sunny. High minus 10.

The Tuesday started foggy, but there was just a hint of colour on the mountains.12-hint-of-pinkThen it cleared.13-fog-clearingAnd by sundown there was not a cloud in the sky. (About 3.45:pm).  When the sun pours into the cabin all day and I hardly need to keep the fire going.  But I must get it roaring about half an hour before the sun goes.14-sunsetThe sunrise, too, was diamond clear.  It has been so rarely like this for most of the year.15-clear-sunriseNow I can finally see the sunrise point along the S E horizon.  It won’t change much by the shortest day.  Time is a little after 8.00:am by the clock.16-sunrise-pointBut even daytime temperatures are chilly!  The poor little chickadees are wearing their puffy jackets.3-chick-puffy-coatThey have special antifreeze in their blood to stop their tiny legs from freezing.17-chick-sunAfternoons are the times for hiking these days.  The river has lots of ice on it, but the water is much higher than it normally is at this time of year, and much of the ice will go when it gets warm again.18-river

19-north-bluff-riverHarry’s coat is a gorgeous colour against the blue snow shadows. (He has received part of the advance for his book, by the way, and has already been contacted by his editor, although that work won’t start until the new year.)20-harryAnd there we are, on the north bluff, enjoying the SUN!!1-sun

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Snow at Ginty Creek.

The dull weather took on an ominous cast at sunrise one morning.  1-storm-warningLater that day, it started to snow at Ginty Creek.  Badger is staring intently at me through the window, asking to come in. He never, of course, brushes himself off first.
1-badger-pleadingBy the next morning, there were quite a few inches on the ground.2-snowTime to clear snow of the solar panels again…3-solar-panelsI couldn’t get an internet signal – I had to brush snow off the satellite dish and arm as well.4-snow-on-satellite-dishIf the seeds are covered in snow, the birds can’t find them.  I have to go and stir them up.  As they swoop in to get one, they often reveal more.  But if it snows too fast, the seeds are covered again and I have to keep going out and clearing them.  They do not know to scratch like chickens.5-bird-feederMy road, on the way back from the post office.  This lone bull is only a few kms from home and is heading in the right direction.7-bullThe next day it snowed again, and the next.  We were beginning to wonder if our winter was going to be a continuation of the summer’s endless precipitation, only colder.  But then we got a gleam of sun.6-gleam-sunAnd another.rare-sunThat evening there was even a bit of a sunset.10-sunset-after-rare-sunDidn’t last, though.  On the Saturday I drove with some trepidation to the Tatla Lake Christmas market.  It was snowing steadily: already there were 6″ on my driveway and the van starts to have difficulties at 8.”  I would be at the fair, selling books, for several hours.   If it continued to snow, the drive home might be a bit precarious.  The road sign says it all!11-snowing-to-tatla-fairThe fair is held in the school gym.12-tatla-schoolThere were all the usual crafts.13-sharon-sweatersCourtney (centre)’s mother is a caterer, and Courtney has been selling her own baked goods since she was a little girl. 14-courtneyIt was still snowing as I drove home.  Although there had been very little wind, 3 new trees were down on my 4 km driveway.15-home-first-treeI managed to squeeze past the first two, but had to stop for the third.  At least I had the chain saw with me.  I cut out just enough to get by.16-second-treeThe next morning, we had an unbelievable treat.17-sunriseThe snow had stopped and there was a clarity to the air we had not seen for a very long time. It looked as though the sun was going to shine.  There were 8 and half inches snow on the ground.  I was wondering about ploughing my road.  It is very hard to find anyone to do it these days.  I figured I should put chains on the pickup and see if I could at least drive along it and cut out the fallen trees.  The pickup would pack the snow down enough for the van.  But if we got any more…

However, I had just stepped out of the door when I heard a machine.  In came a tractor with a plough!18-christoffChristoff owns the Terra Nostra Guest Ranch, less than 2 km away as the raven flies, but because it is across the river, it is 9 km by road.  I have come to know Christoff over the summer while working on the Kleena Kleene internet tower (still not hooked up), and also I took Sanjey over there for his horse ride.  I had mentioned to Christoff the need for a plougher, but knew he was going back to Switzerland for the winter.  In fact he was due to leave in a couple of days.  However, without contacting me, he just arrived.  He was able to push the fallen trees away with the tractor.  In future, his caretakers will plough me out when I need it.  So that is one big winter problem solved.

And the day got better!19-perkins-peakThe following day, too, gave us some sun.  At first there was fog and there was a time of will-it, won’t-it.  I decided to break out the snowshoes and plod up onto the north bluffs.  The river is still pretty high for this time of year.20-riverUp on the dunes, I was still lidded in cloud.  I could see blue sky to the northwest.21-clear-to-northand more in the north east.22-clear-to-neAnd then suddenly, we got full, unadulterated SUN!!!22a-sun-bestIncredible!23b-snow-dead-tree-2Perkins Peak.24-ppFinger Peak.24a-fp-2Every branch looks fantastic.28-snow-on-branchThe sky is so blue!29-forestToo hot for Badger, though.  He rests in the shade23c-badger-in-shadeThat night, I could see where the sun touched the rim of the earth for the first time in months.  The last time it cleared Nogwon far to the right off the picture.  That would have been the Equinox.  Here, 3 weeks from the shortest day, it is to the left of Finger Peak.26-sunsetThe next morning we had a sunrise!30-sunrise-fpIt was quite cool and there was frost on the woodshed window.31-frostAnd as the sun cleared the trees, it sparkled on the branches.32-backlit-trees-2We’ve had more sun this past week than during the last month.  My solar panels are loving it.  Dull and dribbling snow today – can’t expect too much – but it is supposed to clear tomorrow – and the temperature is due to drop.

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