dog run

rce_1789smJake runs with Chewy. Dave looks on.

Dave, Jake and I thought it was about time we let the dogs get to know each other. Jake and Dave’s dog, Chewy, a purebred poodle is six months old, only a puppy. She is an intelligent specimen of the breed, with expressive eyes and smile if you can see through all the fur.

Willow wasn’t sure what to make of all the excitement. Jake and Chewy ran rampant. Taking turns knocking each other into the snowbank. Willow tried not to get trampled and had to give a snarl and nip on occasion.

rce_1815smJake sharpens the end of a stick. Regardless of age one must have something to run with.

Dave and I talked about people who have died recently. There has been quite a few. Local people. Winter can be hard on life. We are men after all, that’s why we talk, trying to be serious, knowing someday we will be the ones talked about.

rce_1793smJake commands.

In the meantime, it’s kids and grandkids, knee deep snow, colours dim but alive in winter’s waning  light and dogs running happy.

We all agreed, men, boy or dog, it’s hard to be serious when January feels like spring.

Slip Slide and Away

_LME9541.jpgIt looks like something from a horror movie, but it’s just me leaving the light on so I know where to pee at night.

Still no snow in the forecast. Damn strange. I picked a helluva year to get a part time job plowing snow. Every morning regardless of the forecast I get up at 3 in the morning and look out the window for snow and to see if I should suit up for work. It really isn’t that big of a hassle, because at 3 am I’m usually due for a piss.

One night in December I got up looked outside. The snow was coming down in sheets. I grabbed a quick bite and headed out, only to find there was no snow, it was clear as a bell. Now I put my glasses on before I look outside.

Yesterday we drove behind the mountains up the creek. I parked in the snow on a slight incline. Willow and I got out for a look around. I only took a few steps before I noticed the truck rolling down the road backwards. Lisa, in the passenger seat, seatbelt still on, didn’t look impressed. I chased after the truck, jumped in and got it stopped.

I thought I’d left the truck in gear, but the warm weather had turned the roads to glare ice and the truck had started to slide. I found some chunkier snow to park on. I wasn’t impressed with the conditions.

Lisa said it was lucky I hadn’t fallen on the ice trying to stop the truck and had it run over me. I agreed, yes that was lucky. She is always looking on the bright side.

Springtime in January

rce_1769The creek bottom. Red willow and mountain tops.

Such a nice day, Willow and I decided to spend the afternoon at the river. The snow is mostly gone from the valley bottom. It hovered around 3°c. I parked myself on a log. Willow carried sticks around. Dropping them near me and then standing in the river wanting me to throw them for her, which I did. She has me trained well.

rce_1772Willow packing her stick over the tracks. She always brings one back with her.

We watched a train go by. In honour of Jim from Iowa I counted the cars, 124 and two engines. Some of the cars had snow on them from coming through the Revelstoke pass. It has been a long time since I counted cars. It was a favourite pass time when I was a kid. Sometimes, I’d lose interest mid-train. Looking back I guess my attention span wasn’t too long. Or perhaps there was just so much to do on those tracks beside the river that I couldn’t wait to get at it.

rce_1767Locomotive.

Plenty of birds. I heard a woodpecker drumming, a Kingfisher rattling, a flock of Waxwings chirping, cleaning up rose hips in the wetlands. I saw none, but a lone Water Ouzel, dipping on the opposite shore, undisturbed by Willow and our juvenile stick antics.

rce_1764My log by the river, cleverly disguised with bad focus and light leaks.

The water was clear. I looked for fish. Perhaps they are still on schedule, considering it’s only January.

rce_1756The old pontoon bridge. A long ago used drunken shortcut from The National in Radium to home in Wilmer.

If this keeps up there will be pussy willows by February. Very fine day/

rce_1760It still looks snowy up Forster.

easier to see in black and white

_lme8845

Sure as hell with an axe one day.

Clipping branches 4 feet above my height.

Turning the hatchet twice the speed of light.

Used to missing.

Almost glad of it.

early 2019

rce_1741Willow keeps an ear out.

Went out to the bar tonight. It’s been awhile. My good friend turned sixty. Hunter was kind enough to come along. The food and beer was good. Everything is expensive. It has to be. $7 for a draft $20 for an appetizer.

***

It’s a new year. Not sure what to say about it. Last year was tough. We got by and in this day and age that’s a good thing. Maybe the most we can ask for. If lucky, this year will be much the same.

rce_1733The truck not yet stuck.

***

According to the news the world is topsy-turvy. Worse than ever, they say. But I don’t think it’s changed that much. Some things have got better, some worse.

One thing that has stayed the same is our leaders are a bunch of self absorbed arseholes. But when haven’t they been?

***

rce_1748Why I’m careful where I break trail.

We have had three days of above freezing temperatures. The lake has an inch of water on the ice. The snow has receded to the benches. The deer are walking around like it’s springtime. It’s disconcerting, I expect winter to be winter. I wake up and look outside to see if snow is falling. When it isn’t, I go back to bed but not to sleep.

rce_1747

***

Our occupation with the undoings of Trump and Trudeau is puzzling. They make good news.  However they are far from us. They are certainly scoundrels. But they take away from the more dangerous scoundrels closer to home. Think about that School Superintendent that works to cut wages in the district and gives himself a raise. How about all those developers that, selflessly run for town council changing bylaws for their own benefit. 

In 2019 fuck Trump and Trudeau and all their hype. It’s only a distraction. If you want to slay dragons, do it closer to home.

***

rce_1706A small Downey chips away.

The night is clear. Orion is up ruling the dark. The temperature is dropping. I should be in the bush, knee deep in snow, Willow clearing the perimeter, with only an outward breath between me and the sky.

Christmas Cake

_LME9532A Christmas treat!

There is nothing like a good Christmas Cake, full of nutrition and a TINY bit of booze. It has everything in it to sustain a person doing hard labour or recreating in the mountains, skiing and hiking. It has the power to keep the cold away and get you back on your feet to finish the trek to the top of the ridge or through the deep snow on the way back home. It has even been used to aid in dragging deer through the bush. Thus is the power of the Christmas Cake.

Some people call it fruit cake, but I prefer Christmas Cake because my mother would make them in November and we couldn’t try them until Christmas, plus they always seem like a gift.

My Mother took pride in her wonderful Christmas Cakes. They were always baked in round pans with choice ingredients and wrapped in cheesecloth and a tea towel. The cloth was pulled back and the cakes were regularily soaked with booze. Brandy was used mostly, but I can remember whiskey, sherry and Grand Marnier were also used. I remember my mother saying it was important to get them properly soaked.

About five years ago, it could be ten the way they are flying by, my sister Deb started making Christmas Cakes from my mother’s old recipe that was written down with some of her other recipes and notes. They were every bit as good as my Mother’s, even better because I didn’t have my father rationing it out to me like it was the last water on a life raft stranded in the middle of the Pacific.

_LME9523 A gift in a dented tin!

This year my other sister Wynanne decided to make the Christmas Cakes. Now Wynanne is an absolutely awesome cook! Her meals are legendary among the family. Her children Christian and Meagan and husband Tim have been treated to many wonderful meals. Whenever I make something I haven’t made before I always phone her and ask advice.

But could she make a Christmas Cake that could stand up to my Mother’s and Deb’s?

It’s a lot of pressure. It should come easy to someone with as fine a culinary skills as Wynanne’s, but with Christmas Cake who knows! Never mind such legendary cakes!

First she had to deal with the recipe itself. Stained and worn, and I am sure, not very detailed. Luckily, Wynanne had the presence of mind to phone Deb and say that she though SEVEN cups of butter was too much.

Deb righted what could have been a disaster and told Wynanne it was seven ounces, not seven cups. They had a good laugh over the stained recipe and what could have been some pretty greasy Christmas Cakes. It seems fitting my sister’s laughing over my mother’s recipe, as my mother could always laugh up a storm. I imagined her laughing along with them.

As promised I received my cake just after Christmas. On opening the heavy tin the smell of boozy cake enveloped my senses. It was everything I remembered as good and fine. I unwrapped it carefully., first the tea towel and then the cheese cloth. It was the perfect colour, dark, nothing like some of the store bought ones.

_LME9524Unwrapping the bounty!

Then the moment of truth, the first bite. It was excellent. Every bit as good as I can remember. Thick cake holding the nuts and candied fruit together, all inebriated in a good soaking of booze.

I sprinkled on another layer of booze before rewrapping and putting it away. Christmas Cake must be continuously hydrated if it is going to last the year (this one won’t). 

_LME9533It ain’t gonna last!

Now I have to start rationing myself. The pieces start off big and get smaller as the cake gets smaller. By the end I’m like my father on the life raft. It, at least, has to last to the end of March and the end of the cold weather.

Wynanne lived up to her Mum and sister Deb. Not that there was ever a doubt.

What a wonderful gift. I’ll enjoy it in the bush and while working. Sometimes you get lucky.

Turkey Soup

RCE_1698Willow surveys the sticks on shore, carefully picking one to fetch. 

It is a long standing tradition of rotating hosting Christmas dinner among our family. This year it was Lisa’s brother Brent’s family’s turn. There was plenty of great food and wine and lots of good conversation and laughs.

RCE_1679Grey December beside the Columbia.

Brent generously gives me the turkey carcass as he knows I like to make broth from the bones. He always leaves some meat on the bones so I can add it to the soup the next day. Even at this late hour the soup is boiling. I will wait as long as I can before straining the broth. It will be put outside to cool.

Tomorrow I will sauté onions, carrots and onions, add the broth, the left over turkey and a handful of barley. That’s it, supper taken care of.  The kids always loved that soup. Sometimes they would argue over whether I should add barley or pasta noodles. Barley usually won out.

RCE_1689An American Dipper holds down the ice beside the river.

My Mom and Dad used to make the same soup, from turkeys, but also wild chickens we shot. They called it mulligan. It was thick and gamey. They said it was soup that stuck to your ribs. I used to wonder what that saying meant. I thought, maybe the barley acted as glue and stuck to your insides. Later, when I understood a person could go hungry, I realized it could keep hunger away longer than many other foods, some much more expensive.

We are lucky to have so much.

RCE_1660My old path to the fish holes.