So, I am going to be quite frank with you. This was not an easy Christmas to get through and it wasn’t just because we lost so many famous people this year and the news of Carrie Fisher’s heart attack super fresh was just a stark reminder that we are ALL mortal.
I know that I know that I knew that it would be tough to be away from family, again, for Christmas. But, I guess I didn’t know how difficult it would be. And here’s another thing, and I’m not complaining, not at all, but it is bloody…deafeningly…quiet here! You sort of get stuck hearing that bloody voice in your head because there isn’t any other noise to drown the F#$%@er out! But, on the plus side, sometimes that F#$%er has some pretty decent things to say too. And stuff that makes sense even if you don’t want it to make sense. Get me? It’s about finding that peace, isn’t it? The peace within that will match the peace without. And isn’t that kind of what Christmas is all about? Peace and goodwill to all? Well, you can’t give peace to others if you don’t have it yourself. One can always pretend to have inner peace and talk the talk but until you actually WALK the talk, you haven’t really found peace. Sorry.
So why come to an isolated place like Brittany Lake? I have to tell you, I know there is peace here. Not just physical peace – in case you have forgotten, we are in the middle of freakin’ no where! But there is psychological peace to be found here too. You’ve heard the story: I now live right over the mountain from my first childhood home, the first home I have memories of and they were all good. Well, almost all good but I don’t want to shatter the dream just yet. It is here that I can hear the thoughts, hopes and dreams of that lil girl and I can help her to make some of her fairytale come true, right? And that is a damn good reason to live in the middle of freakin’ no where with an amazing husband who has the fortitude to live in isolation with me. And our dogs. Who deserve to live the life a dog was meant to live, not cooped up in some bare land strata where they were chastised for barking now and again. And our quiet kitty, Billabong. I know I don’t talk about him much, but he’s here and he is being a good mouser and he can even be cuddly, from time to time. I think that is a secret though so don’t let on that I told you.
Anyway. Christmas Eve was great! I spent the day in the kitchen cooking far too much. Luke did some chores after getting off work early and even brought in the cutest lil Christmas tree! And it snowed. All day long. So I don’t really know why I bothered to cook because the truth of the matter is that we would not be going to the Christmas social that our neighbours had invited us to.
Christmas Day, it all came crashing down. And the straw that broke the camel’s back was the Cold Room. It has been finicky since we arrived. Not keeping stuff cold, keeping stuff too cold so I bought frozen stuff! Now it isn’t keeping stuff frozen but it is freezing the fresh stuff. I just want to bang my head on the Cold Room door until the answer miraculously comes to me! So with food gone off, AGAIN, there wasn’t a lot to cook for a Christmas Dinner so I just didn’t. And that was my downfall. You and I both know that the kitchen is where I find my comfort. I should have just cooked something, anything, anything at all to keep the Blues away. But the Blues came crashing in. Buggers. Christmas Day was VERY quiet. For me. Luke kept himself busy doing household chores. Very busy.
By late afternoon I was pretty fed up with myself so I strapped on my snow shoes and went for a walk. Alone. On the frozen lake. And it was windy. And snowing. And it was enough to blow the Blues away. And I found a tree full of Whiskey Jacks. I sat with them for a lil while. We had a talk about …. stuff. They’re great listeners!.
Boxing Day was a whole new day. The sun came out! So yes, maybe Luke didn’t need to run the generator on Christmas Day but if there is one thing you can never be certain about, it is the weather at Brittany Lake! I collect weather from three surrounding weather stations and not one of them ever seems to coincide with the weather that we have. It’s a phenomenon! Oh, as I walked up to the dunny that morning, all the snow slid off the roof of said dunny. Upon entering it, I noticed that that last wind storm had done some damage; there was only one screw holding the back of the roof down!!! Anyway, just thought I would mention that in passing. I went into the house, told Luke about the situation and then I went to the kitchen and made a couple of lil bird feeders; I knew there was a reason we had packed 2 kg of bird seed with us to Brittany Lake! Bird feeders in hand, I strapped on my snow shoes and away I went to find the Whiskey Jacks. Bear and Sam came with me and maybe that is why I didn’t see a single one. Not to be disheartened, I placed the bird feeders in a couple of trees and headed back home. Just as we got to the trail to the house we saw Luke heading down; guess we were going for another walk! Brought Luke down to the Whiskey Jack Tree which is just beyond Swan Spit. And then Luke did a brave thing-he crossed over the lake! Right there! I always sort of head back to the mouth of the lake where it is narrower and I am more certain that the lake is actually frozen there. I was slow to follow but when I saw Luke, Bear and Sam clustered together out there I thought their 500 combined pounds versus lil ol’ me? I took a chance and I am here typing to you today so obvs it went well. We really wanted to go and do some exploring up Cassleman Creek but Bear’s health is not the greatest these days so he dictates what we can and cannot do. Anyway, we turned around and came back home, this time along the edge of the lake and creek, like I’m used to.
We came into the house and I made us some hot drinks to warm up and was happily fussing around in the kitchen, talking to myself as I worked. Honestly a cuss word or two may have slipped out and I said to Luke, “Hey. I’m feeling heaps better; I even said a few swears!” We laughed.
Today, I will just leave you with a few pictures of our snow covered oasis. If the dang wind would let up, the trees look so pretty when they are covered in snow! Oh, but we like the wind! It tops up our batts!
We have well and truly been tested moving into the Earthship at this time of the year. And we have heard from a few locals that this is the wettest Fall they have had in years and years and years. And the blowiest! Oh my, there was that big storm a number of weeks ago that felled a gazillion trees and then about a week and a half ago we had another big blow. An appraiser was heading out to check over the property so we were meant to go and check for blowdowns last weekend; we were thankful to have not encountered any! Which is not to say that there weren’t new blowdowns, just someone else tended to them! On our drive out we ran into our “neighbour” – he hails from just this side of Henry’s Crossing (Chilko River where we get our drinking water); he was over at the fork in the road, ready to go and check it out as he will soon be moving his cattle up here. He said he has about 100 of the fellas who will feed off the land until they clean the place out and then he will move them along. It will be interesting to see how Bear and Sam go with having some four-legged neighbours.
Oh, speaking of four-legged neighbours: we have seen a wolf and a few coyotes. The wolf was brazen as! Just standing there on the frozen creek, looking up at us, checking us out. He wasn’t very quick to move along either and when he did he only went over to the other side of the creek and had a lil play in the long grasses. Well, I suppose he could have been hunting some small critter, but really, with our cold temps these days, who would be out in the cold?? Luke actually got out his big ol’ gun and fired a few shots into the ice to let the fella know that while we don’t mind him being here he mustn’t mess with Bear and Sam. Meh, Wolf was not the least bit phased by the gunshots. But, nor have we seen him since. I only hope that he has not seen us since either!
The coyotes? They entered the creek up in the Dead Marshes then ran along the creek out onto the lake. They weren’t quick about it either. They stopped, practically in front of the Earthship, had a lil tousle before carrying on. We haven’t seen the pair of them since that but have seen a lone coyote playing/hunting out in the Dead Marshes. I wonder where his den is located? Over by the old barn? In the tumbledown forest just off the Dead Marshes? Curious to know where he lives but not curious enough to go and look.
So yes, has that wolf seen us and us not him? To that effect we have started clearing along the Goat Fence that surrounds the Earthship. I went back to see what Luke was up to and asked him if we should maybe start a fire? He said, “Yea, that’d be good but there’s no way you’ll get a fire going with all the snow covering everything.” Perhaps he failed to realize just how tinder dry everything is under that dusting of snow? Four pieces of paper later and I had a roaring fire going! The great thing about the stuff that needs to be burned is that they have all these spindly fingers of kindling protruding off them that are all too quick to be consumed by the fire! Just have to manage the fire, keep pushing the branches farther in as the spindly ends are consumed. I have discovered that I love making fires! I absolutely love how they sound and they smell pretty lovely when the lil lodgepole pine saplings are heaped on. Sorry, lil pines, but there are far too many of you for all of you to grow to maturity.
The week following that was pretty quiet with Luke and I each tending to our daily routines. Luke working at the computer, me nagging at Luke to get back to the computer and get to work and worst of all, after dinner, asking Luke how much more work he has to do at the computer before he can call it a day? He grumbles at me but dutifully goes back to work, in the dark, because let’s face it; Mr. Sun has not been our friend. When we don’t get any sunshine we really have to conserve energy. In the last post you will recall that we have decided to have our big meal of the day in the afternoon? I’m so glad we made that change to our day; it’s kind of…depressing…doing the dishes in the dark.If the sun does not show up at all then it is too dark to do much of anything by 4:30! So, so, so dark! If the Batts are in the 80’s then we are in for a candlelit evening in front of the fire. Well, I get to sit by the fire; Luke’s visage is illuminated from the glow of his computer screen!
Last weekend saw the beginning of Christmas baking but whom am I kidding? Who is going to eat everything? Think I’ll just stop…right after I make Rum Balls. Oh, and my Christmas baking was rudely interrupted by EVERYTHING in the Cold Room freezing! I had to cook everything up! Silver lining? I haven’t really had to cook any meals since then. I made Cream of Celery Soup, Butternut Squash Soup, which was an interesting experience: I “roasted” the squash, wrapped in foil, on the wood stove; it did a great job of it! What else? Oh yea, a great big batch of Vegetarian Bolognese using up every bit of vegetable I had in the Cold Room. There was also a great big bag of carrots so I broke down and made Carrot Cake!!! Well, Carrot Cupcakes complete with Cream Cheese Frosting and boy, are they good! Now that everything is cooked up they are all happily chillin’ out in the Cold Room again. Literally, chilling! And any Christmas baking done up to now is also out there, freezing. The one awesome thing about the Cold Room freezing is that next shop at the Big Smoke I am going to buy TONNES of frozen berries and frozen peas! Tonnes! Okay, maybe not tonnes, but A LOT! I find myself really missing fresh fruit. I know frozen fruit isn’t “fresh” but it’s fruit! You may be assured that I will also buy as much real fresh fruit as I possibly can! Meh, if I buy too much fresh stuff, I can just cook it up into something, right?
Nice seque onto the Greenhouse. Much to my chagrin, things are not going so well in there: some of the plants are covered in aphids, the cauliflower froze to death, some of the herbs are beginning to protest the freezing cold temps, and Billabong thought “Wow! Now that’s a big kitty litter!” But, despite all that we had a salad from our fresh outta the Greenhouse Garden yesterday and it was good. To be fair, I certainly would not qualify myself as an expert gardener; in fact, back in the Valley, I barely managed to keep my kitchen herbs alive! It’s all a learning curve, folks. I’m sure I will learn to maintain a garden to the same degree that I am able to build a fire out of just about anything; at least that is my hope. I have googled how to get rid of the aphids, which reminds me, I have to look it up again to make sure we get the required ingredients for the magic potion that will rid my poor lil plants of their blight. I might also mention that the lil fellas are FREEZING! Last night I went to bed and had a much-needed sleep but for the three nights prior I was getting up at midnight and keeping a fire going for the plants, all night long. Now just because I was up all night did not mean I got to sleep all day…still stuff to do! Luke put his foot down one day and told me to SLEEP but it just didn’t work. Oh, dear…that was the day…
You see, Luke should not ought be bossy about me sleeping; it leads to nothing but trouble. I’ll sleep when I need to, thanks very much. After spending hours in bed, trying and trying to sleep, watching boring movies on my 2003 iBook…just going to let that set in…my 2003 iBook, back when Apple cared about their customers and built things to last! Anyway, Andrew Webber’s Phantom of the Opera was my chosen lullaby but it didn’t work. So, unable to sleep, I got up and made like I was headed to the dunny but really, I went and started one of my most impressive fires to date! Luke eventually came looking for me and quickly got stuck into piling debris onto the fire. Now, you need to understand some stuff: the ground is covered in a thin layer of snow, not so thin you can see the ground, but not so thick that you can’t see the ground-you with me?; there are long, spindly branches EVERYWHERE; there are rocks everywhere-big ones, lil ones, pointy ones, smooth ones; loose ones, ones frozen to the ground- now normally I love rocks but these ones, so far, have been nothing but a nuisance and a …DANGER!
Those long spindly branches could be just that, a branch or they might be the long spindly top of a bigger, but not so big, tree. Normally I just pick up the spindly end of the tree and walk it along to the fire; it’s how I do my upper body work. Okay, this one tree in particular was a bit frozen to the ground on the root end so I thought Luke and I might be able to tackle it together, right? Well, Luke tried to maneuver it on his own and he was doing fine until he got tripped up by a hidden rock!!!!! Luke lay splayed out on the ground, pinned under the tree he was trying to move, writhing in pain, which I could deal with but when he stopped moving and wouldn’t answer me I got a bit worried. Oh, and my first aide instructors should know that had that have been my final practical exam? I would have freakin’ failed! Luke’s internal fracture (had he had one) would have been jutting outta his skin by the time I was done tending to him! Florence Nightingale, I am not! Sorry, mate. Anyway, Luke was finally able to get up and my best help was giving him my alpine poles so he could hobble back to the Earthship; good thing the accident occurred in the top quarter of the orchard! Literally, 100 steps from accident site to the door; we got Luke inside and the first thing I could think of was, he needs an ice pack! But we don’t have any ice!!!! Luke calmly pointed out that there was an abundance of snow outside that could be made into an ice pack. Obviously the shock was getting to me, not Luke. I got Luke settled with an ice-pack, elevated his leg, gave him the strongest drugs I could find in the house, gave him a shot of my precious Bundy Rum (used for baking only…and now, medicinal purposes) and to calm myself, went back outside to do Luke’s chores otherwise we were going to freeze that night! And just to make sure that tree did not threaten our health again, I went over and showed the bloody thing what-for! Okay, Luke got it pretty close to the fire but I still had to do some manhandling to get it on the fire. Unlike Luke though, I am very careful about where to put my feet-you fall once in your lifetime and injure your tailbone and you forevermore watch where to put your feet. That tree is now ashes and Luke’s knee is on the mend.
It’s a good thing Luke’s knee is on the mend because he really HAD to get outside this weekend to cut more firewood as the temps are really starting to drop. I don’t think we have seen the upside of -10C this past week. Now we don’t mind the cold so much because we have a lovely fire to keep us warm and sometimes the Sun does poke out and warms us through and through….too thoroughly, really. It can be -20C outside and 26C inside! And when I am in the kitchen, cooking up everything the weather has frozen, it gets uncomfortably HOT. One day when I was in the thick of cooking, sweating like crazy, I simply had to strip off! The rest of the day was spent cooking in a nighty! Luke dared me to go outside, dressed only in my nightly and my kitchen clogs- I gladly accepted the dare and stepped outside to COOL DOWN! I didn’t find it the least bit disagreeable and even went up to the Crow’s Nest to snap a few photos of the sunset.
Anyway, so we humans are coping well enough with the cold temps. Bear and Sam have let it be known that they are not huge fans of the cold. Their paws get too cold. We do what we can for them but honestly, it won’t improve until they get lil booties; on the list for our next trip to the Big Smoke. At least Bear has a lovely thick fur coat whereas Sammy has short hair, which he seems to throw off with every step he takes! I have printed off a pattern for a knitted jumper for him, and we’ll get him a lil coat too, one that will keep him warm and dry on our walks. Which they still enjoy! Despite the cold! Yesterday we walked along the creek, then the lake’s edge to Casstleman Creek. We would have gone farther but the dogs’ paws probably needed a thawing out and we heard a vehicle so we thought we would head back. The dogs were thankful to warm their paws but went out again as quick as they could; they love being outside! And the vehicle? Who knows? Our neighbour dropping off his cattle? That’s what we thought but we haven’t seen any cattle, so who knows. I do wish people would drop in and take some of this baking off our hands. Clearly I am going to have to see if I can get on in a kitchen at one of the nearby resorts.
Oh yea, the cold temps. So yea, that froze then drainpipe out of the grey water pond. Which means we have had to be extra careful of our water consumption. To be sure, we can still USE water but that also means we have to empty the pond, by hand and I can tell you that a) buckets of water are heavy b) buckets of water can splash c) grey water smells bad. S’all good though, Luke rummaged about in the sheds and he has fashioned a system that will drain the pond for us. We’ll have to properly sort the current system our come Spring.
And I already told you about the Cold Room freezing over, so there it is.
I can say, we are both looking forward to a trip to William’s Lake in the, hopefully, upcoming week so we can replenish our supplies. You can be sure I am going to stockpile coffee, almond milk, coconut milk and McCormick’s Stock like there’s no tomorrow! And as much fresh fruit as I think we can safely keep for 4 weeks!
Luke is looking forward to Surplus Herby’s and all that they have to offer. He is also going to look for a lil lady sized power saw and a lil ….hmmm….gun of some sort for me. Not that I think I could ever shoot an animal; especially since we truly are in THEIR home but I suppose I could shoot off a round or two to try and frighten off an animal. If nothing else, Luke would be alerted to the fact that Bear, Sam and I are in trouble.
Oh, and finally? I am looking forward to a trip to William’s Lake so I can have a LONG, HOT Bath!!!!!!