Funny

My manager Brandon presenting the award, glass artwork from a local artist.

This happened before Christmas, I was voted by the people I work with as Employee of the Year. It was presented at the Christmas Party I didn’t go to.

The resort I work at is staffed by wonderful people. Any one of my co-workers would have been a good pick, so I am especially honoured and a little bit embarrassed.

It is nice to work at a place that everyone cares about the job they are doing. The job isn’t easy. That is a tip of the hat to management that instills pride into their workers. I am fortunate to work with a great group of people.

I used to work at the School District, great pay, unbelievable government union benefits, large defined pensions and the most lazy unhappy workers you could find anywhere in Canada. Promoting the worst of the worst into management has had a great deal to do with the apathy and incompetence found in these positions. It is sad, especially for the workers who strive to do their best.

Today, I got on the radio and asked for help carrying a hide-a-bed up a flight of stairs, four people answered offering help. If that was the School District it would have been crickets until they decided to contract it out to a moving company. My job is much simpler with everyone pulling in the same direction.

My co-workers are mostly young. They don’t have pensions in their future or high wages, they may never own a house, yet they are Johnny on the spot, doing their best. It is incredible to watch and they put me to shame.

Senses

Extra grey today. Woke up to fog. Our Grandkids stayed with us last night so everything seemed bright.

Later we walked in the bush looking for birds. They could be heard everywhere, Seeing them was harder. Lisa can tell how far away they are by their song, I don’t know how she does it, but she is right almost always. My ear just hears them, I can’t tell distance.

Lisa said I taught her how to see animals in the bush, you look for shapes and lines that don’t fit. I learned to do it hunting with my father. My eyes are starting to go, fortunately I can still see lines that bend amongst the trees.

I dreamt I was at the old house the other day. My father said, go in and turn the outside light on. The switch was in a hallway my mother made into a darkroom. As soon as I walked in I smelled the photographic chemicals. They had been left out in the trays. Dektol, stop, fix and hypo. They smelled like they needed to be changed. You can get some interesting results from old chemicals, my mother used to say.

When I told Lisa about my dream she was surprised I could smell in my dreams. She said I must be thinking of my Mom. I think about her often, especially as I get to the age my parents were when I knew them them best.

Now Lisa and I walk and drive some of the trails looking for birds, just like my parents did. The truth is birdwatching can really sneak up on you.

Warm Spell

The colours of winter when it warms up.

It felt like spring today. The only thing cold was my feet from being damp. Cut and split firewood. Nothing makes a body feel better. Willow and Lola ran hither and yon. They both got wet and muddy.

The snow melted, got heavy and fell off the trees. For the first time in months, Lisa and I could see deep into the bush, past thousand branch trickery and white out simplicity. No sense, walking off trail, it’s still deep, the warmth making the going heavy. It wouldn’t be long my old legs would be stuck like a long legged moose after a week long mountain blizzard. My only advantage is there is no hungry wolves following close. Perhaps I’m just too blind to know. Regardless, at this stage of the game it’s best to stay on the beaten path.

A feather under runoff. The best of nature is never perfect, it is rugged, torn, chewed up, bloody, cold, wet and beautiful.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be cantankerous, obstinate, disagreeable and ornery. The only rule: as long as it’s not towards the ones you love.

Mid January

An American Dipper on the muddy banks at the headwaters of the Columbia River.

It has warmed up in the past week, we have even had some soggy above freezing temperatures. I am still trying to get used to the new camera. I don’t shoot as quick as I could with the old Nikon. On our walk the other day I missed two coyotes passing on the trail in front of us, later I put the camera to my eye to capture two deer drinking water at the river, and before I could focus they were gone. The two Whitetail Deer would have made a good photo. Oh well.

The skies have been clouded over for the past month. Once they clear I will be giving the camera a go at capturing some star photos. With luck it would be nice to get a photo of Comet 2022 E3 ZTF. Even if it is not visible to the eye, it is possible the camera may pick it up.

The old Nixon place from across the river.

Early January

Willow enjoying being inside, basking in the winter light.

Things have settled down. The kids have returned home. It was great to have them all out.

The excitement has dispersed into the realization of another year with plenty of challenges.

CBC keeps letting us know that things will get worse before they get better. Inflation will continue to rise along with interest rates. It is inevitable as countries try to lower carbon emissions. Of course, it will hit the poorest hardest.

Our staff at the resort is down to a skeletal crew as flu and Covid takes its toll. Everyone’s happiness just before Christmas is long gone, as the work load gets shared between fewer.

Our neighbours to the east keep flowing into the valley, unrelenting, big trucks, loud mufflers with trailers hauling ski-doos.

“Where are you sledding?” I ask

“Up Forster Creek” they say.

Forster Creek is a swamp of snowmobiles in the winter.

“Can you get up as high as Thunderwater Lake?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

“Shit ya” is the answer.

I remember when it took two days skiing to get there, with a night over in an old cabin, that was a godsend for its limited supplies and hopefully a few sticks to get the fire going. Back then the rule was to leave more than you used. If you drink the powdered soup, you leave a tin of beans and replace the wood in the morning.

Now it’s just a destination, something to be crossed off a list, while frightening every living thing within five miles in every direction with BRAPPP, BRAPPP, BRAPPP. To think we care about emissions or nature is a joke.

Meanwhile, I bluff, pretend, showing respect or recognition when none is warranted. I remind myself my opinion means nothing, it’s just part of the job to be nice.

***

This is not exactly a Happy New Year’s Greeting. It is hard to know what 2023 will bring. I wish everyone the ability and courage to be ready for anything. Fight back when you need to and embrace every happiness that comes your way.

Christmas Season

Decorating the tree. Lisa picked the topper. She said it looked like us in our prime.

It has been a whirlwind. We have had all of our kids out. They have some time off which is great. Kids and dogs have occupied our house, just like old times.

Getting the spuds ready for Christmas dinner. Norlands and Russet. The Norlands think it is spring and have sprouted.

Work at the resort is busy. It has snowed quite a bit, lately we have had a melt which means ice.

Some of the kids and Willow enjoying cocktails.

My brother-in-law Kurt had a heart attack a few days ago and is in the hospital in Calgary. My sister Deb and I made the trip in. He seems good. He is in good shape and very strong. He will have to be on medication and eat only lettuce for awhile. It’s the shits, but better than the alternative.

I picked up a rack of lamb in Calgary for Lisa and I for our New Year’s Dinner. All the kids will be at parties. It will be just us and the dogs. We will probably be in bed by 9.

Scarlett and Cooper meeting the Big Guy. Nobody seems really comfortable.

Wishing everyone the best this holiday season.

Christmas Eve dinner.
Chad and Maddy with the hounds.
Merry Christmas!

Deep December

Spent most of the day cleaning the house. Lisa did the bulk of it. She doesn’t like knick knacks or clutter so cleaning goes pretty fast. I like doing the bathrooms, vacuuming, the easy stuff. 

Lisa asked me to tidy up the basement. That’s where the bulk of my stuff is. Books, books, and more books, papers, journals, negatives, pictures, knives, sports equipment and old furniture. 

There is no good reason to hang onto all that stuff. It is not valuable, it’s only worth something to me by the memories it evokes.

***

We also have plenty of supplies. Mason jars on a rack.  Preserves from last summer that will be eaten up plenty this Christmas.

A full freezer bursting at the seems. CBC and Chrystia Freeland keep warning Canadians the economy, climate and world order are going to hell. Grocery prices are high and going higher.

I don’t know what to do, so I buy a piece of meat and put it away for when we are starving.

The way things are going we’ll have to buy another freezer.

***

Plenty out there waiting to get us. I wonder if we would be safer if I turned off the news.

***

The bank has been calling. They want to know what to do with the small amount of money in my pension plan earned while working for the government. It comes due every year. I usually turn it over at the lowest rate of return.

They tell me the money is going to be eaten away by inflation. I know what they are saying. They tell me it may as well be stuffed in a mattress.

They look at me like the fool I am, little do they know, my freezer of meat get’s more valuable every day.

***

Can you blame the youngsters for not wanting to contribute. It seems like a lost cause. 

Unlike when we grew up, they don’t want material things, that’s been drummed out of them long ago; they will never afford it, they only want stability, a promise for a future that doesn’t involve endless war and environment destruction.

The shit is coming at them like driving 90 in a snowstorm. You either get blinded or hypnotized, it takes everything you have to keep it out of the ditch. 

***

Still when it is all tallied, everyone on earth has done this, it’s been an experience.

***

A few birds

Lisa took this picture of a Water Ouzel (American Dipper). She did a good job sneaking up. The blur in front is Lisa shooting through reeds and tall grass. This little bird is one of our favourites to watch.

It seems Lisa and I have moved into old age gracefully, one of our favourite pastimes watching water birds. The dip and dive. Some are solitary while other species stay close together. Eagles are always watching ready to pick off a straggler.

A raft of common Coots. The body of a duck, bill of a chicken and legs of a turkey. If you look them up in a bird book they could be in any category.

The grocery stores have had limited supplies in the valley. Turkeys are limited but available. Lisa’s Mom and Dad wanted one, but when they found out there is not as many available this year choose not to get one, so it could be left for a family.

They have been poor, so they know what it is like. They also know the value of depending on others. Their gesture in the world we live in is rare, where people snap up things that are in short commodity and sell them for a profit, be damned, regardless of need, going to whoever can pay the most.

Goldeneye, moving between the old pilings of the swinging bridge in Athalmer.

Moses dropped some tablets, containing the commandments while coming down that mountain. I’d bet, ‘Leave some for others’, would have been on there.

Up the mountain we saw Townsends and Siskins all too quick and crafty to get their picture taken.

The occult

The early Moon coming through the clouds.

The full moon and Mars at opposition means we are all aligned.

Mars close to the moon.

Mars doesn’t seem as bright when it is beside a full moon, you have to squint.

The moon passed in front of Mars, occulting the bright red planet.

Mars and the moon nearing occultation.

An occult means different things. For me it puts things in perspective.

Tonight was cloudy, luckily the camera sees better than I.

The moon is surrounded by a red ring while Mars disappears behind the moon.

Winter

Lisa walking Lola and Willow. Long shadows, a constant reminder to get the sun on your face at every chance.

Cut a Christmas tree this weekend. I had to drag it for quite a ways so it may be flat on one side.

The dogs got along. Lola ran while Willow stayed close. Got the truck up the first branch to the first landing. It bucked a few times looking for traction. Lisa wouldn’t have liked it. It was fine. It is when the truck starts pushing snow that you have to watch out. Before long you’ll be sitting on a heap of snow with no traction and every spin of the tires digs you deeper.

My shins hurt the next day from breaking trail. Willow and Lola slept good, even into the next day.

The tree is in a bucket of water in the basement. If it was outside it would be eaten by the deer.

***

A few trees to choose from.

I’ve been enjoying driving the snow covered roads. A little bit of drift here and there. Once and awhile I put it in four-wheel drive. Usually when I have to get somewhere quick without spinning. On the highway regardless of conditions it stays in two-wheel, you burn too much gas otherwise.

***

Got a half pound of beef jerky for a good price. Some paté cheaper than bologna. Lisa and I are looking at the sales. I won a pound of coffee on the weekend for being the 50th person through the till. I’ll take it. I’m stocking up on protein and Peruvian blueberries. It won’t be long and we will have to knock off a wild turkey for Christmas.

***

I made fennel liquor in October and it’s just about ready.