Maple Mountain

p1000730_fotor I can’t think of a more perfect way to spend a late September day – especially when the sun is shining in a bluebird sky – than hiking. What made it even more perfect was the company – Penny is one of the big things (person actually and, come to think of it, she’s pretty small) I am going to miss when I leave. I want to wrap her up and take her with me. I can’t think of a better person to adventure with in my new home – discovering new trails and heck, even making those trails if required. I’ll just have to content myself with visits.

At any rate, it was lovely to hike Maple Mountain along the old, familiar blue, yellow and pink trails. I wore my new “birthday” socks! I love them!

Bonus for the day: for the first time ever, Abby did not jump into the deep black mudhole on the yellow trail. I returned home with a clean dog! Overjoyed – yes I am! (you have to take the small wins when you can get them)

Love sitting here, with the warm sun still pouring in, clean and relaxed after a hot shower, contemplating an easy evening – thinking about the writing I am going to start ever so soon. Creative ideas are flying through my head.

I am also wondering what Simon accomplished today. I suspect far, far more than I did. But I’ll make up for it tomorrow: recycling exchange and landfill! A hard day’s work tomorrow and a full day of hiking on Friday before a rainy weekend sets in.

A dreary weekend may actually inspire me to sit down and start on my ideas.

I woke up this morning with ongoing anxiety about the house and the unexpected costs involved – didn’t know how to cope with the worries, other than talk myself out of them. And then I hiked, proving once again that no matter the question or the problem, hiking is the answer.p1000734_fotor p1000735_fotor p1000738_fotor p1000739_fotor p1000741_fotor p1000745_fotor p1000747_fotor

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Doing and Being

p1000724_fotor The morning walk in the back 40 and the long afternoon hike through Hemer Park were the being portions of my day. The rest was doing – or, as Old Blue Eyes would say, “do Be do Be do.”

I’ll start with the doing – I got through an impressive number of items on my list. First, I loaded all the books into the car. The mere fact that I managed to lift the containers into the vehicle was enough to impress me – and the fact that I did it without putting my back out!

In other words, I started the day with a major win. First stop: Speedy Auto Glass, who looked at the poor windshield and said they could deal with it right away. Excellent! I had other chores to do downtown so I left it with them, hot-footed it over to my former employer and dropped my camera off with Joanne. Collected lovely hugs and moved on.

Next stop, the Credit Union to sort out my RRSP/RIFF situation. Good thing I did because the rules about such things are more than a little convoluted. Hell, even the woman I talked to had to research and make phone calls. As it turns out, I am doing the exact right thing at the right time. Had I waited, I would not have been able to access my funds for another year.

Having set those wheels in motion, I moved on to Thrifty Foods where I had to pick up two items and then back to Speedy who managed to fix the windshield without having to replace the whole thing. I was thrilled – three dings! Wow! (darn gravel trucks!) I was going to take the car into a wash but changed my mind after I got in. They did such an extraordinary job of cleaning the windows after the repair (all the windows and mirrors) that I couldn’t bear to ruin the effect. The wash will have to wait a few days until I have to carve out a hole in the new dirt to see through.

Then I dashed off to Literacy Nanaimo to drop off my books but was waylaid by a rep from Haven Society who wanted them, and since I have always supported Haven, this was a lovely piece of serendipity.

Excellent – unloaded that lot and continued on to the health Food Store to pick up my hair colouring and then on to the north end to Home Sense. Towels – the exact colour I’ve had in mind! A purchase for the new home! Exciting! This is, quixotically, one of the ways I take emotional possession.

Finally – home and lunch and a nap. Then that long stroll through Hemer Park. I noticed as I actually didn’t stroll, but power-walked through the park, how high my energy level was. Pondered it – figured it out pretty quickly. Here’s what enervates me and brings my energy down: waiting for things to happen or depending on others before I can get going. My energy level rises when I have things to do and can just jump into them. I make a terrible, awful assistant. I also don’t want to be in charge of others. I work well autonomously – it has always been my greatest strength. Sadly, it also makes me a rotten team worker. (shrugs)

I still have a few things to do but most of those involve getting ready for hiking tomorrow. Oh boy!

My biggest project now is to clean out the house and garage and make several runs to recycling and to the landfill. I plan to start that on Thursday. But I know myself well enough to understand the balance I need. What worked so well today was filling the morning with to-dos and taking time to settle and be peaceful in the afternoon before getting back to my list. Be Do Be Do – making sure to feed the peace inside.

Nature feeds the peace.

Sadly, too many of us do and do and do without taking the time to simply be. It’s immensely important.

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Back in Cedar

p1000721_fotorI had a short trip this morning – from Hope to Horseshoe Bay and then the ferry ride home.

Nice things happened – taking Abby for a walk in the village, thinking to get a sandwich to take on the ferry with me – which meant tying Abby up outside briefly – something I am loathe to do. By chance, I met a woman walking a big Maremma who took a shine to Abby. And so we got to talking. It seemed that she wanted to go to the post office but also didn’t want to tie up her dog. By another happy chance, the post office was beside the organic sandwich shop. Well – you can see where this is going. We happily took turns holding each other’s dogs while we mutually took care of chores.

Don’t you just love it when things work out?

And then Simon called while I was on the ferry with bad news/good news. The bad news had to do with house plans and such – no big deal really. The very, very good news was that we don’t have to wait for an occupancy permit to move in. We can live there while we bring the house up to snuff. And you know what that means – we won’t be apart for two or more months. Simon will do everything he can in the next two or three weeks that can be done, then come back and we’ll pack up and move out before the snow flies.

That is the best news ever because, as Simon pointed out, hugging pillows at night is not quite the same as hugging the love of your life.

And now it’s my turn to make lists and jump into action. I have a very long list for tomorrow that includes dropping off my camera that I sold, taking books to Literacy Nanaimo, taking other stuff to the recycling exchange, sorting out stuff for the landfill, going to the bank to sort finances out for the move and getting the car cleaned and fixed – a large gravel truck pinged the windshield very badly today – I don’t think I little fix will mend it. Damn those trucks! Ah well.

Also must shop for a few odd sods – got most of the shopping done between the ferry terminal and home. But whew – bits and pieces of things here and there.

Abby is very quiet tonight. Clearly she was thrilled to be home, racing in circles around the back 40 on our afternoon walk. This is the only permanent home she has ever known and in her heart, it is still home. But she also clearly misses her family. The reunion will come sooner than we all thought.

And that will be a blessing for all of us.

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From Home to Hope

p1000719_fotor The title of this post sounds delightfully existential. However, I do mean it quite literally. Today I drove from our new home in the Slocan to Hope. This is where I have petered out and checked into a motel for the night. Tomorrow, I shall continue the return journey to the loft in Cedar.

It’s been an odd day or two. Starting with yesterday evening, we took the dogs for a short romp by the lake – anything to do with water always brings a smile to Shanara’s face. I miss her and I can tell that Abby misses her too. Abby is a typical labrador in at least one way – she loves being part of a family. Now, for a short while, she will have to put up with just me. Poor baby.

We went to bed early after dinner – both restless and waking frequently during the night. Shortly after 6 a.m. I gave up and crawled out of bed. I was determined to treat this brief hiatus from each other with a “chin-up” approach – matter-of-factly if you will. I finished the packing I’d started the night before and helped Simon haul everything out to the car. Then, shortly after 8, there I was, ready to go. We’d already been kissing and hugging most of the morning but suddenly, with Abby loaded in the back seat and Shanara demanding to know what the heck was going on, it hit me – I was leaving.

I don’t cry easily. I haven’t actually wept in many years. I used to be the weepy sort but I think I’ve largely forgotten how. Then, as I was hugging Simon one last time, I felt the tears well up. They didn’t spill over, but they were there.

And then I was starting the car and pulling out of the driveway, waving to my love one last time.

I drove down to Silverton for gas and then on – through New Denver and on to Nakusp. The sky was leaden, the air presaging the cold of winter. I felt an ache in my chest I could hardly put words to – a missing, a longing, a parting, a love.

Driving alone – leaving – being alone again – this was the strangeness of it all. Simon and I have been together, doing everything together – and suddenly – not there. Mostly I had a sense of the wrongness of it – but also knowing it was a necessity and we were both doing this for us.

I had estimated the drive time from our house to the ferry landing north of Nakusp at about an hour.

Boy, was I wrong!

When I got to Nakusp and saw the sign that told me I had 51 kilometres to go, I rethought my driving plan. I’d wanted to catch the 9.30 ferry – the 10.30 would be all right, but still….

Speed limit – 100. Kilometres – 51. Time 9.05.

I’ll spare you the details, but I’d like to note that I arrived at the ferry terminal at 9.29 and rolled on. To my amazement, one car boarded behind me, two seconds before we set sail.

Whew!

And then, the rest of the drive was a bit like an odd time-travel experience. Every piece of road reminded me of driving with Simon in the other direction – not even that long ago. I stopped in Revelstoke, walked downtown, remembered doing this with Simon. Then on toward Vernon where I stopped at the market for what would be dinner tonight (and for the market’s famous and absolutely sensational Baroness chocolate bars). Again – remembering. Simon and I had been here, driven these roads, had lunch in this cafe.

Then, down through Kelowna and that’s where the experience became new – driving the 120 kilometre per hour connecter. I thought I’d spend the night in Merritt but it was only 3.30 when I arrived and I was on a roll – may as well keep going. Five minutes later, I almost lived (or not) to regret it. The car beside me in the passing lane decided to swerve into my lane – not just a touch over – but truly into my lane. Luckily, we were going uphill and I had a truck lane to my right – I jerked the wheel hard. Relief – he missed me – I turned back into my lane – and (this is true!!!) he swerved back into my lane! Again! Yes – I managed to avoid him again. But let me tell you – was I ever aware, alive and fully alert!

The guy’s passenger noticed and yelled at him – she was white with shock. At 120 K – that sideswipe would not have been pretty.

Thrilled with being alive and well, Abby and I rolled on into Hope and arrived shortly before 5. It felt good to get out and stretch our legs. Abby was also delighted to get some dinner. She’s now in her favourite prone position on her blanket cuddling with her stuffy.

And I feel odd. Alone in a strange motel room – very odd. Thinking about my darling all day – and now – and surely all night too.

I love – and I am loved. I cherish – and I am cherished. I am the luckiest woman on earth. Simon is doing all this work – all this stuff he has never done on this huge learning curve and way out of his comfort zone because he loves this family.

I am determined to do my part starting the minute I get home tomorrow. Together, Simon and I are building a home.p1000720_fotor

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Hiking in Valhalla

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Yesterday probably qualifies as one of the most memorable birthdays I have ever celebrated.

First, it was a decade day – I turned 70! Second, it was the first birthday I spend with my love. Third, I spent it in our new home and fourth, I hiked in the magnificent alpine of Valhalla Park.

I think I want to write about the hike first. It was epic in every possible way starting with the drive. I’d boned up on the area enough to know that getting to a trailhead here is generally more challenging than tackling the actual trail. Ergo – the reason we bought a 4×4 truck and lifted it to high clearance plus installing all terrain tires. We were not disappointed. The road lived up to expectations, which is one way of putting it. It wasn’t too too terribly bad for the first 35 or so kilometres, if count “not bad” as massive potholes and rocks the size of small boulders. The last uphill bit was a different animal altogether. If I were prone to drinking milk, I would have had a milkshake spewing out of my mouth. It made the road to 5040 (A Vancouver Island reference) look like a highway.

But we made it and parked the truck – the only vehicle at the trailhead. WE then proceeded to wrap the truck with chicken wire. Not because we necessarily think it looks pretty, but to keep the porcupines at bay. It seems that every trailhead in this part of the world comes equipped with chicken wire.

And then we were off. The skies looked rather ominous. Fresh snow had fallen overnight on the tops of the surrounding peaks. But I put in a request to the alpine gods of Valhalla for a no-rain hiking day and they complied. Thank you.

The hike to Gwillim Lake has been described by some as the most beautiful hike in the whole Kootenay region. Right from the beginning it wasn’t difficult to see why: no trudging through miles of forest to break into views. Mountain spectacle began at the parking lot and simply grew more wondersome as we went.

It was a very good trail – much better than the road and wound up and up past a spectacular lake or two before we crested Drinnon Pass. The autumn colours filled our senses as did the majestic peaks all around us. Valhalla is another world – true back country wilderness. We were acutely aware of being the only humans present. The mountains here don’t tower as they do in other parts of the Rockies – they loom. This is a place for humans to visit – not stay. The tors inspire awe, fear and reverence.

To my chagrin, we had to cross two boulder fields (I don’t’ like boulder fields) but truly – the trail was excellent. The last elevation gain took us steeply up to the final ridge. I expected that we would crest the ridge and then look far down on Gwillim Lake. What a magnificent surprise when we topped out to fine ourselves in a massive alpine bowl, backed by huge peaks and the bowl – a great meadow, studded with tarn after tarn surrounding a meandering mirror of a lake.

“Wow!” didn’t begin to express our feelings. We would have loved to have explored for hours and made a note to come back and set up a tent – yes. This is a maintained camping site. Lucifer Pass calls but mostly, the meadows and tarns demand an hours-long stroll.

After lunch, we headed back finding, as always, that the trail goes up both ways. Total elevation gain was almost 1200 metres and yet felt kind and not exhausting. Gwillim Lake is another one that is now up there on favourite all-time hikes. With every new hike we do in the Kootenays, I am more impressed with the beauty of this region. It appears to be a hiker’s paradise.

So – the hike done and the bumpy ride back handled, we headed home where I indulged in a hot shower and then popped a bottle of very good champagne. After all, if you can’t get drunk of fine champers on your birthday, when can you?

We played “drunken Scrabble” and we danced. Simon made the yummiest omelets for dinner and we talked and talked, mostly about how much we loved each other (and we do) and how we were the luckiest man and woman alive to have found each other (I am so lucky). As I recall, there was a certain amount of giggling that took place through all this as well.

Before I finally fell into bed, I looked at the more than 100 birthday wishes posted on my Facebook page and the many more in my inbox. I feel blessed by every one of these wishes. I have the world’s finest friends. The wishes warmed me, made me feel loved and reassured me that yes, age is just a number. That said, I feel pretty darn proud of my number. I am determined to wear it well.

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Happy Birthday

Um – no photos

Because I have a million photos that I took today (slight hyperbole) and have not yet even looked at. It’s because it’s my birthday and we hiked in the most outrageous place ever! And came home late – and I showered and since then have been drinking champagne – and am now giddily drunk (happy).

So – happy – and promising to give a full report plus tons of photos tomorrow. But for now – um – more champagne I think and maybe even more dancing.

Life is very good indeed.

And you know, the best thing that ever happened to me? Being born! (ha – I’ll bet you thought I’d say meeting Simon!) But seriously, Simon tonight, is celebrating my birth. So – I am too. Without that momentous event – one chance in a quarazillion – nothing else in my life could ever have occurred (including my actual life!)

The second best thing that ever happened to me is Simon.

Happy

Happy

Happy

And so much in love.

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Day One

p1000657_fotor The hardest part of today (so far) has been waiting for the very, very slow Internet connection. That said, one of the best parts of the day is actually having an Internet connection in this rather remote location. We were convinced that we would have no service, mainly because our phones, on previous visits, had indicated “no service.” Duh!

But we found a tiny one-bar service and boosted it to the point that we are actually connected to civilization as we know it.

At any rate, today has been both relaxing and productive – an odd combination. I did laundry in New Denver and we both established connections with the Credit Union there. Simon has been brushing out the vegetation (read jungle) surrounding the house for hours and hours. And yes, he is making amazing progress. We hiked up to the top of the property – and I do mean hiked. The slope is as steep or steeper than Mount Arrowsmith – and those of you who have done that slope will understand what I mean by steep.

We found our top marker and then hiked back down. I should also note that this exercise in hiking did not involve trails of any kind – those are things we will have to build.

We then smudged our house – every bit of it. Sage and then sweet grass. This is good – I now feel like it’s truly ours. I’ve been eying it carefully. The thing to do with this is to take it one bit at a time. Simon has already begun with the brushing out. If I were staying, I’d be arming myself with buckets of soapy water, lots of old rags and steel wool. However – I am not staying and that’s okay – I know what needs to be done.

I am already planning wall colours and fabrics. I also think I know how to attack the garden – first year, keep it simple and build raised beds all around the house and leading up to the gazebo. In other words, start at the house and work our way out bit by bit. I can already envision how beautiful and productive it’s going to be. First season, integrate the gazebo with the house – worry about the lower garden in year two.

So – having taken possession, I feel much less ungrounded and free-floating. I feel rather more determined to get things moving along, which I will do once I’m back in a couple of months. Meanwhile, my plan is to take care of things back home like taking things to recycling and cleaning out anything the we don’t need. And there too, one thing at a time.

And I’m going to get on with writing.

Tomorrow should be interesting – I’ve been looking at hikes and all of them scare me just a bit – roads to the trailheads are tough or the trails are largely unmarked. So – a challenge? Sure. But together, we can figure this out. We have the truck with the clearance and we have our experience. It seems like one helluva good way to spend a birthday – getting out of my comfort zone yet again. Oh boy!p1000658_fotor

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