Thursday, October 26, 2017

One More Cat...

   Around a month ago now I was puttering around out back one Sunday when a vehicle pulled in the yard. I figured for sure I was going to be directing someone to the hot spring, giving them gas or fixing their flat tires, and reluctantly walked over. 
"Are you missing a cat?" the young man asked.
I had just seen my two lazy over fed guard-cats asleep in the house.
"Nope...but thanks for asking, have a nice trip out." I said.
"We found it while out hiking," his girlfriend adds, "She ran up to us on the trail and wouldn't leave us alone. She's very friendly!" 
"And watch out for sharp rocks." I said.
   He explained they were cat-people, but already had two at home and just couldn't take another one on.
"Well join the club." I told him.
By now a starving grey kitty had climbed out of the vehicle and began to rub on my leg seeking attention, and a food source no doubt.
"She's a really nice cat, its not very old." his girlfriend says.
"And keep a look-out for the grader." I said, "It might be working down along the lake."
"Well if you don't want her," her boyfriend states, "...we'll take her with us and drop her off at a no-kill shelter in the city."
"Well... I... uhm," I heard myself mutter, then offer to take the cat, figuring I'll find the owner or someone who is looking for a nice cat. 
   I don't know what brought this cat to become lost out here, or how long it tried to fend for it's self. Probably dumped-off at the campsite, it has happened a few times over the years, or else someone brought their cat camping and it ran off into the wilds.
That has happened a few times over the years also.
Well the girl was right, she was a nice little cat. I took it over to the shop to fatten it up until I found a home for it, in the process making it my BFF.
   A week later I took it to a vet in Whistler for a check-up and any shots it needed. That was almost $200 plus fuel and wear and tear on the vehicle and my nerves and we made an appointment the next week for spaying. So another days driving and $350 plus wear and tear and fuel. Then the veterinarian's office sent several reminders to bring her in again to make sure she was healed up alright. I would have sent an e-mail back telling them that everything was just fine, but she had started scratching at her ears which I figured we better get looked at, again
So today I fired her in the back-seat of the truck, where she dosn't stay long, and headed for town once more.
   They started work this week on the road not far away, a rough narrow stretch there along the river. The logging outfit closes the road to traffic to do their work, but smooth it out and open it every 2 hours to let the traffic through and have a coffee break. It is only a couple minutes down the road from here, and we got there just before the ten o'clock opening.

This will be a big improvement to have this section along the river smoothed out and widened, there were often rock-slides and avalanches along this stretch.

Further on down the road along the lake we had just had time to make our 12 o'clock appointment in Whistler.

Good kitty.

Once I hit the pavement I usually quit taking pictures and pay more attention to the road.

   Out of boredom I took one in the vet's room, they had taken the cat somewhere to flush-out her ears or something and I sat there for 45 minutes twiddling my thumbs.
At least in my doctor's room there is posters of people's innards and things to look at while your waiting. So after another $280 on my debit card off we go, cat and I.
But we have a few more stops before heading home.
   I'm always afraid of the cat getting out and running off as they are prone to do, and every time I get out of the truck I'm reaching down and making sure its not trying to slither out the door from behind the seat or someplace. The grocery store stop went pretty good, I managed to stuff her back in the hole she was trying to squirt out of, and at the gas station I got in and out without her waking up. Over at the building supply place I paid for some items up front and drove around back to load up. The lot-man there helps me with most of what I'm after but was short a bale of insulation, and we talked over the matter while I climbed back in my truck.
"Looks like they sold you something we don't have." he tells me there at the open door,
"You'll have to go back up front and get a credit, we should have some more R24 insulation in by this time next week and...hey look, your cats getting out!"
I looked down and reached in time to catch her in mid-flight. I could just see chasing her around downtown Pemberton, and a building supply yard would have been a good start to the adventure. That was close.
It felt good to back on the gravel road headed home, and such a beautiful day too.

I was feeling bad for poor kitty, going all this time without a bathroom break but I didn't want to risk letting her out, but against my better judgment I stopped at this campsite along the lake.
The cat wanders around a bit before doing its business.
"OK well lets go now, we gotta hit that road opening." I told it.
Cat looks at me over her shoulder, then walks purposefully off towards the bush.
"Oh you bastard!" I exclaimed then began to walk after it, which only quickened it's pace.
I tried stopping to see what cat would kept walking of course getting even more distance between us. Now I realized how the cat probably went missing in the first place. Pretty soon I'm climbing over logs and breaking branches and making a hell of a racket which is not helping.
Soon it gets too dense and I worked my way over to the road.
   Out of curiosity the cat re-appears at road-side, walking along but staying just out of reach. I'd get up close enough to make a grab for it and she would just leap ahead a little. By now I had quite a bit of money invested in this cat and it was worth chasing it around a bit. This little walk/grab/jump game went on for quite awhile and we probably walked several hundred yards up the road and the whole time I was half expecting a fully loaded 18-wheel logging truck to come barreling down the road and pancake my $600 cat into the dust. Eventually, I got lucky on a grab, catching it's tail and working my way up as it clawed at the ground. Holding the captured cat firmly I walked all the way back to the truck and fired her in and got on our way once again. I could picture her running off and me having to spend several nights at the campsite with an open can of cat food set out, and who knows what kinds of beasts that might attract.

   Minutes from home we arrived at the road closure and had to wait 10 or 15 minutes for it to open.
I wound the window down and chatted with the flag-girl for a bit. There were only three of us waiting at this end, this time of day most of the traffic would be headed out, waiting at the other side of the construction zone.
"Ya there's two logging trucks and seven vehicles at the other end." she told me.
   I took a picture of the work-site from inside the vehicle, and not thinking, decided to open the door and stand-up on the jamb to get a better one. Sitting back down I put the camera on the seat and leaned over to close the door when I see a slithery grey form bolting from the vehicle. Somehow I reacted fast enough to reach down and catch it in mid-air once again. Another close call, I could just picture it leaping out just as the road opened and all that traffic and logging trucks that cat would have took for the hills for sure.
   We made it home, back to the lodge shortly after. I pulled in the yard and parked then got out and left the door open. The cat just sat there looking at me and I had to coax the idiot out, it probably thought I was going to grab it again.
But it was good to be home, and I don't know who was more wore-out, me, or the cat.
   I've got quite a bit invested in this little bugger, it is kind of cute most of the time, and I'm not trying very hard to give it away so I think I may just keep her around.
What the hells another 89 cent can of cat-food a day.
So far she has been called Annie, as in Little Orphan Annie, but somehow the name has never stuck. I'll have to come up with another, better name for the new addition.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Trethewey House Museum

    I've always collected artifacts and little bits of history in my time, and people have often remarked my home is like a museum. Along with the usual old knik knacks, books, and other items from the past are some that have been passed on down the line from the Trethewey family, which of course hold special significance.
   William, a much enterprising uncle of my grandfather discovered a rich vein of silver near Cobalt Ontario in 1904, making himself a bundle. His brother Joe had a stake in the mine and returned to BC a wealthy man, buying the Chilco Ranch and investing in mining properties.  In 1909 he invested in and became the major shareholder in his brother Arthur's sawmill enterprise on a tiny lake in the Fraser Valley. With good management, a rail-head nearby to ship lumber to eastern Canada, and a ready local market the business grew to one of the largest in the valley.

    The Abbotsford Timber And Trading Co. was built on the shore of what was Abbotsford Lake, which soon became known as Mill Lake. Much of the early development of the town of Abbotsford was helped in no small part by the Trethewey brothers lumber company, the largest employer in the area. At it's peak, the mill produced 20 million board feet of lumber and 15 million shakes per year. At the time it was said to be the third largest employer in the province.
The business had been managed by Arthur, Joe preferring to live in the interior expanding his ranch and  seeking mineral properties,  but he took over hands-on management of the company when Arthur fell ill. Joe moved to Abbotsford in 1919 and built a home for his family close to Mill Lake and continued to live life on a grand scale. His 1920 house had central heating, hot and cold running water, electric lights, and a built-in vacuum.
Joseph Ogle Trethewey, and a gold nugget that he always wore as a stick-pin on his tie, as seen in the picture.
   Much could be written about the exploits of my great grandad, and he was well known in the BC lumber and mining circles. Joe died from cancer in 1927 and my grandad Edgar took over the Abbotsford mill. The depression years arrived about the time the company was faced with depleting timber reserves and despite hanging on for a number of years, the mill was closed, and the old locomotive and miles of track were sold for scrap. Edgar made a gift of the mill property to the city to be used for the beautiful Centennial Park that surrounds Mill Lake to this day.

   Joe's lovely old house had several owners over the years before it was purchased by the Trethewey family and restored back to circa 1925 by the Heritage Abbotsford Society, being designated a municipal heritage site at a ceremony in 1983 that I recall attending.  The Heritage Abbotsford Society operates the museum and showcases local arts and crafts as well as give tours of Trethewey House.

I had always thought about donating some of the family history I have around here, and an email recently from the Executive Director spurred me into action. They had found my site doing research and I have mentioned Joe in the past. So a week or so ago I braved a trip out to civilization to pay them a visit, bringing along some goodies.

Anna offered to give me a tour of the house, probably not too often she gets to give the spiel to a real live descendant.

The old ones tell of some roaring parties here during the 20's.
Rumor has it the place is haunted too.

This lovely old chair I gifted the museum is from the old Abbotsford Lumber Co., and I passed on some old share certificates and things I had around I figure I could probably live without.

 They could produce 100,000 of these a day, but probably the last two AT+T shingles in existence. They are quite weathered on the other side, taken off some building that was torn down. Someone years ago had the forethought to save two of the bundle tops that had the stencil and they got passed down a few generations. I'll take these to the museum next time along with some other cool old stuff I've got around here, like some rich samples Joe brought back from the famed silver mine.
Comes a time to pass things along. It will all be going to a good home.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Summer Of Smoke.

My international readers may not be familiar with the wild-fires that have been burning in British Columbia for the past month. The worst season anyone can remember, with thousands of folks evacuated from towns, lost homes, and many  thousands of hectares of the Province burned, and I hate to think what it's all costing to fight. 
   We have been fortunate in the Lillooett River valley to have not had any fires started, I don't think there is one burning within 100 km. of here. We were free of smoke for the most part, but were about to receive a daily reminder of the carnage going on in other parts of the Province
One morning a couple weeks back I was up in the high-country and caught the first whiff of smoke, and within hours it began to fill the valley below.

We've had an apocalyptic red sun during the day, with temperatures in the high 30's.

And a fearful apocalyptic red moon at night.

A time to be wary.

   Today it lightened-up a little and the forecast is for clearing weather over the next 4-5 days. I don't really mind the smoke, it has it's own strange beauty, but I detest the loss the fires cause to the forests and inhabitants, especially when so many are human caused. 
I'll be glad to see some blue sky and the sun again though, and an end to these damn fires.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

RC Mayhem

   Radio controlled model aircraft have always held an attraction for me. I'm not sure what it is exactly about it, just one of those things that require your full attention, and not much chance of me hurting myself. It was an interest I managed to keep at arm's length for the better part of my life, at least up until my second childhood began about 15 years ago when I fell prey to the lure of a model airplane while shopping in the city. I was after something else there actually, but ran across this boxed-up little RC plane that just called out to me. What had got my attention was that it was powered by a re-chargeable lithium battery, a huge improvement over the noisy little fueled engines of before, and like many times in the past, I came back from town with something that I was managing quite well without before. I could hardly wait to get back to my airstrip to start enjoying it.
   The little plane was defiantly intended for entry-level idiots, with little in the way of assembly required, and the radio controller itself has but the simplest form of joystick and trim-buttons. After charging it up and a few exploratory taxi runs up and down the driveway I grew impatient and figured I had passed my flight training, itching to begin my flying career. I've been around real airplanes enough that I could get one in the air and back down again if the need ever arose, although I'm not so sure I would want to be along for the ride. Regardless,  flying a scale model from the safety of the ground was bound to be a piece of cake. The manual advised throwing it by hand rather than using up batteries to take-off from the ground. I stood out on my airstrip, making sure there was plenty of room around me, tree-wise anyways, the ground was always in the same place. I pulled back on the throttle toggle with my left and with the right gave the snarling plane a fling into the air.
  My first flying experience was that of a violent touch-and-go before I got my hand back on the flight control. It touched the ground so hard I thought the wings were going to come off. I jerked back on the first joystick I got hold of to get it as far from terra ferma as possible, sending it into a rocketing vertical departure.
Oh the joy of flight. The inverted loops and rolls, screaming hi-speed dives towards the ground, recovering at the last moment to straf the pilot out in the open, ducking and running for his life. Seeing that I was just trying to hold straight and level the whole time, I figured I should have done a few more taxi runs on the driveway, and read further in the instructions other than 'launching'. The excitement ended badly, about seven and a half minutes short of the expected battery life of eight minutes when I unexpectedly managed to tangle it in top of a tree. As if it hadn't suffered enough damage already, it then slipped from the branches and flopped to the ground below.
They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one.
I picked up the dangling remains of my new hobby, silently walking back to the workshop. 
   Over the course of a few evenings I managed to skillfully glue the numerous bits of the fuselage back together, using the picture on the box as an example. I couldn't wait to get out there and enjoy it again. Disregarding the instructions about launching by hand, probably due to the fact most people don't have an airstrip, I decided it would be safer to attempt a take-off. I figured I wouldn't hit the ground if I was on it to start with and only had to concentrate on the up. I hadn't figured on left and right though, the little plane veers from one side of the strip to the other, sending up a shower of cut grass and dandylions at the apex, then I hit something hard enough to launch my new hobby into the air, and the flying excitement began all over again. 
   A week later, it taking almost that long for all the glue and adhesive to dry after the not too surprising abrupt ending of flight number two, I was out on the strip again, ready for take-off.  By now it has so much glue and epoxy gobbed on, tape, band-aids and haywire and is so bent out of shape I wondered if it would even get into the air.  It was one of my finer flights actually, at least until the door covering the battery compartment fell off, the heavy lithium battery dropping out and flapping in the breeze at the end it's wiring harness. If the damn plane wasn't difficult enough to fly before, I really had my hands full now. Not too surprisingly, flight number three came to a quick but spectacular conclusion in the branches of a cedar tree. The plane emerged from the tree leaving it's wings behind, the fuselage with flopping battery arcs into the ground with an explosion of foam, plastic, band-aids and epoxy.
   I stewed about it for a year or so, thinking about my mistakes with the plane. I finally decided what I needed to do was fly helicopters, which are even more finicky, harder to fix, and more susceptible to hard contacts with the ground and stout vegetation growing around my flying area.
I had lots of fun with that hobby also, pretty soon I've got about four or five of the things in a box in various states of destruction. 
   So I stewed about that for a year or so considering my options.  I decided what I needed to do was get a radio controlled boat and avoid the hazards of flying. I've got the river right out front so what could be better than that, other than a net downstream. My first RC boat turned turtle in the current and disappeared down-river upside-down, the little prop spinning furiously and the rudder flipping side to side as I stood back on the bank trying everything on the joystick. Boats number two, three and four didn't fare any better, usually swamping while roosting up the rapids that you think someone my age would have enough sense to stay clear of, but that is where the most fun was of course.
After donating a fleet of jet-boats to the river, I figured maybe that wasn't the answer either.
   So I stewed about this for a year or two. I finally realized the safest idea financially was to invite someone out that had a radio control aircraft that knew what he was doing and watch him fly his.
An old buddy from my motorcycle racing days got into the hobby several years back and seemed the perfect candidate.
This is buddy Terry a few weeks back, and his new plane that he was rather proud of I might add, doing the pre-flight check. With nine successful flights and not a mark on it, I considered him a high time ace.
   The morning air was absolutely still, perfect conditions for an expert display of flying skill.
He was understandably a little apprehensive in what he called a 'confined area'. I assured him it was only confined where the trees were, several of which still bear the scars of past flights.
Due to my flying prowess I was appointed official video taker, to record the first successful flight at the Hotspringlodge RC Aerodrome, and I was eager to see how it was supposed to be done.
He pulled back on the throttle and the plane tore down the strip for what seemed like a few feet then leaped into the air, clawing it's way straight up to the heavens.
Oh the joys of aviation. The loops, barrel-rolls, and steep-banked turns, and to think that he was actually making it do those things on purpose! Quiet, powerful and responsive, I was thinking maybe I needed one too, but was going to have sell a motorcycle to do it. As is to be expected from any old buddies of mine sooner or later he began to show off, bringing the plane down lower and swooping past us and looping back in a spectacular fashion, which was making a lot better video and certainly added to the excitement. About forty seconds into the video I must of got a case of deja-vu, and you can hear me go "Oh Sh*t!", followed a split second later by that sickening sound as it impacted near the top of a tree. It was dead quiet there for a moment as we watched it slip from the branches and tumble down in chunks, white foam bits and radio servos littering the ground.

Fun while it lasted.
Gathering up the wreckage, which took two of us to carry, it was a silent walk back to the hanger.
 I guess it could have been worse, there was some salvageable parts to use for building the new one, like the tires, they survived, along with a few nuts and bolts. He took it as good as one could, but that's part of the territory, sooner or later your going to bend something, or worse. Terry will be back out soon enough with the replacement, but will probably stick to the club flying fields back in the Okanagan where there is considerably more elbow-room. This beauty was worth more than all the aircraft I've destroyed put together, and  have tempered most inclination I might of had to join the RC flying fraternity once more. For the time being anyways, but come to think of it, one of these on floats would sure be fun, after all I've got the river out front and all.
What could be better than that.