Friday, February 29, 2008

Moving On

This is the last day of moving. We are staying at a motel on the Beach in Parksville...a town a short distance from Qualicum Beach; the movers came and packed up the house...including our bed...and here we are. Cleaning the fridge is the last thing to do today.

I am using the new laptop. It takes a little concentration, a commodity very short on supply, after moving, packing, and generally feeling displaced all around. There are settings I am unfamiliar with...and when I am tired or anxious, learning about a new tool can make me frustrated.

Actually, if I was to tell the absolute truth, everything right now makes me frustrated.

It seems fitting to me to stay directly on the beach. The Waves whispered to me throughout the night, giving me reassurance the Ocean will always be. I took some solitary time this evening, letting Wind and Rain and the pounding of the Waves take the tension, sadness and tears...all the convoluted emotions with which I am filled...and replace my vessel of emotional detritus with joy and adventurous outlooks.

There are so many changes. Nate is leaving Lucky, Graham and I and will take up residence with Scott, Graham's son. Nate is really his dog; I understood this well when Nate lived with us for the last five years. However, I am filled with sadness and trepidation for Lucky, who will not understand why he is staying by himself in a new kennel.

An amazing thing happened, however, when we dropped the Luckster off, after his first really long car ride, to which he adapted well. Lucky is not used to cats; the only time he has ever had contact with a cat was when he chased one out of the backyard. And yet, as Lucky came in the door of the new kennel, an old cat immediately started schmoozing with him...and Lucky accepted his sympathy and friendship, with nary a growl or a bark.

Lucky has a great attachment to soft, fuzzy stuffed toys; I could sense the immediate love affair struck between the pair of them.
It is looking more and more as if the newest member of our family will be a Cat...finally.

We arrived in Williams Lake, after an uneventful trip. Hardly any snow remains here in the Cariboo; only the hardpacked, gravelly piles linger. And the grass, shrubs and other plants give hints of the glories to come, but at the moment, they look as if their green souls have leached out of them, hiding deep in the greyish black exterior or in the root of the plants.

I understand completely.

The last two months have been a Whirlwind...a Hurricane who swept my former life clean...down to the deepest parts of my Soul. It has not been pleasant, for the most part...yet there was a force driving me towards this move I did not understand. During times of grief and tension, I would notice the signs from Creator.

And in my deepest mourning, I shouted to Creator...You are sending me platitudes! I am tired of platitudes! That amazing Rainbow that just now has suddenly appeared...You know what you can do with that Rainbow!?

Creator let me vent. And then channelled my anger into creativity...I took the camera and used it as if it were a sword...I took the photos of the Rainbow and the following Sunset, the Eagles and the Sea Lions. On and On, until I was spent, with anger at the beginning for a companion and perception following...and finally acceptance, not complete...but further along the strange path I am suddenly following.

If I remembered to ask for help from Creator, during this move, if I placed a problem in Spirit's hands, then the situation resolved itself. Every time. I might not have enjoyed the process; quite often, in fact, the opposite was true. But the source of tension for which I had asked for aid worked out.

So. Here I am, living in the Cariboo. My address will actually be in 150 Mile House, one of the Roadhouse settlements, this one seven miles from the City of Williams Lake. At the moment, I am still in a Motel.

My new home is not old...a direct contrast to the home in Qualicum Beach. It is an eleven year old Rancher, with a large deck overlooking three acres of Forest. I will be living in the middle of a Forest once again. I have not seen the actual land; it still had two or more feet of Snow the only time I saw the house.

I understand the property slopes, with benches or flat areas. I sense it will be pretty, although we will have to build a driveway and sidewalks. There is no landscaping, although I believe the owner planted fields of wildflowers here and there.

But there are many, many different species of Trees, conifer and deciduous. There are many wild berries and fruits. And there is a wildlife Trail that bisects our is not unusual for Moose, Elk, Bear, Cougars, etc. to use it often...the Land behind our parcel is Crown Land, deeply Forested. It is their habitat.

The house has a huge Deck, upon which Lucky and I and our unknown-as-yet Cat, will watch the Trail, in safety and in awe.

We plan to move the kitchen and replace the flooring, with hardwood. The house is big and open, with a good well and septic system. It has white vinyl siding, the preferred choice in the Northern Regions because it stands up well to the extremes in temperature.

And a Victorian Red Duroid Roof...when I googled the land on Google Earth, it was not difficult to pick out the Red Roof.

Here, now, in the Cariboo, Snow is melting. Even the Snow we received the other night is mostly gone. And soon, I will tramp the land where I will live, taking note of areas where one of Grandfather Tree's offspring might flourish. Where will my Lilac garden be? And the Pussy Willow...will I find Pussy Willow in this new Forest?

And which small field will the Wildflowers claim for their own? There is, apparently, a higher Bench of Land, from which the whole Valley can be seen.

It will be a time of discovery, the month of April this year. And March, the month of Mars, will be filled with choosing new furniture and appliances, searching out Plumbers and Electricians, finding just the right cabinets for the new kitchen, and choosing the perfect new floor.

It will be a time of anticipation and of homesickness. March will be an in-between month, a month where I will feel out of place. And still, with as many decisions as we have made in the last three month, and even with that final meltdown of mine...the way has been paved; the hills and corners turn out not to be as difficult as anticipated.
Creator, taking my anger in stride, has continued to send synchronicity and messages, has continued to muffle the worst of this strange new pathway I'm on.

March will be a month of reflection...and recovery...and moving on.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fraser Canyon

On Tuesday, I shall take one of our vehicles to Williams Lake, to the Drummond Lodge, where Graham is currently staying. This will be my home until at least the end of March.

We intend on travelling back to the Coast on the weekend, in the Torrent, to do the finishing packing, and all the other odds and sods required during a move from one home to another. We will use the last week of February to close up this home.

On my trip, I will use the Fraser Canyon route. It is one of the routes with which I am familiar, having used it many times over the years. But mostly in the Summer.

This time around, it will still be Winter. I will watch the road reports, take my time, stopping at the many, many photo opportunities along the way. It should take me, from Vancouver, about six hours...possibly seven, if I linger enough.

I am not a fast driver, and certainly do not enjoy icy, snowy conditions. But the weather for next week looks to be fairly mild. The roads should be bare and dry.

I will follow the Trans Canada Highway...Highway 1...from Hope to Cache Creek. The Fraser Canyon Route has seven tunnels between Yale and Boston Bar. These tunnels protect the traveller, in case of avalanche, yet they are eerie...and when I am in the middle of one, and a huge semi-trailer is coming the other way, I have been known to say a Prayer or Two.

Yale is one of my favourite historic towns along the way. In 1848, it was the inland terminus for the Fraser River Sternwheelers...and when Gold was discovered a short distance away in 1858 the population swelled to over 30,000 people. With only about 200 people living there now, it is difficult to imagine the energy...the spirit of adventure and the unknown...that permeated a Gold Rush Town with 30,000 souls contributing.

Yale is the beginning of the "wagon road" to the Cariboo gold fields.

Boston Bar is also a small town that boasts a huge past. It is interesting how it was named...Many of the gold seekers were Americans, and the ships that brought them came from Boston. The Natives called them Boston Men...and a town was named. It also had a fine roadhouse. History recalls stories of Boston Bar Alex, a roadhouse owner who had sufficient beds and relatively good food.

Some of the roadhouses along the Cariboo Trail were small and filthy, insect and rodent infested, with only floor space available to rest. I have read reports of food offered which was seriously beyond safety for the traveller. I have read many stories that tell of deaths which happened because of food poisoning, picked up at one of these roadhouses. And yet, many a traveller in those early days was extremely happy to find the next roadhouse along the Trail.

As I drive along this highway, I imagine myself travelling to Williams Lake...and Wagon, with either Oxen or Horses or Mules. One enterprising gentleman brought Camels from San Francisco, from the US Army, thinking to hire them out as pack animals, thereby making his fortune by carrying more goods to the Gold fields. For more than a few hilarious reasons, this venture did not work...the Camels were turned loose, to wander throughout the Cariboo.

The last sighting of the last of these poor displaced animals was in 1905, in Grande Prairie, where it died.

The will, the energy, the complete toughness of the people who travelled the Cariboo Trail is unimaginable, to me. Gold Fever is a great name for it...the insatiable craving to strike it rich, to make a mark, to be somebody...

This Fever propelled them to the Gold areas by a Trail which to this day is stupendous, with its winding, twisting way through Mountains and beside rushing Rivers. They made their way to Antler Creek and Williams Creek and others, to stake a claim. Some found Eden, others gave up and either went back home or settled in the area, becoming ranchers, loggers...and yes, miners.

If it was me, I would have stayed as well, rather than face the long, treacherous route back to the Coast.

Once I travel as far as Cache Creek, however, the rest of the way is relatively easy driving, with the exception of the snow heaves and pot holes that occur, after the highway surface has been attacked by cold temperatures so many times over the Winter. Here is where I follow Hwy. 97 North.

After Clinton, I can tell by the names of the villages, towns, and small hotels I pass, where I am on the Cariboo Highway. All these small settlements still bear the names from the mile posts where they originated. Thus, there is 70 Mile house, 83 Mile House, 108 Mile House, and so on. It is interesting that instead of measuring mileage from Yale, it was counted from Lillooet, where the Trail originated, at first.

It gets confusing; there is an explanation and great photos here, in the story of the Roadhouses and the Gold Rush Trail.

The history of the Cariboo and Chilcotin area of BC astounds me, almost as much as its minute the landscape is calm and verdant...the next, one travels through harsh and remote and unforgiving terrain. This beauty and wildness forms the spirit of the people who inhabit this area.

The people I've met from the Cariboo seem far more free of what some people might consider the necessities of life. The people I've met take what comes without flinching. They consider the outdoors an essential part of their lives...the outside temperatures might be -23 C, with blowing Snow...and the usual, laconic comment is, as they stamp their feet...Dirty weather. And then it is business as usual.

Here, on the Coast, that kind of "dirty weather" would shut down Ports and Airports and Roads...and most definitely, businesses. But not in the Cariboo.

Granted, the Northern residents are familiar with this kind of weather; whereas Coastal inhabitants are not. But extreme Storms of any kind, be it Wind, Snow, Rain or Heat Waves, hamper what is considered normal routines on the Coast; and cause much complaining amongst the residents.

Me, included.

It will be refreshing to live amongst people who take what comes with impunity. Who just get on with it...and use a sense of dry humour whilst doing so that I find infinitely attractive. A different viewpoint towards life is always refreshing, with much to learn.

My road trip will be a part of this journey towards a new life and new customs and ideas. This move, with only a few bumps, has flowed smoothly from the very beginning.

And so, I have no reason to believe that my little trip won't be exactly the same.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sold! And Now...?

There is a first time for everything; this is the first time I have sold a home without having another home ready to be moved into.

When the Sold sign went on the For Sale sign, it was with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was happy to see it...that sign meant I would be joining up with Graham very soon.

On the other hand, it meant I was no longer the owner of this particular Home. All along, there have been wee pricks of reality, reminders that I was travelling a Road where I would definitely end up leaving this Home. But in my usual fashion, I ignored them, going on day by day as if nothing had changed, even packing up without really allowing myself to grasp the fact I was, indeed, leaving for another part of the country.

In about three weeks. To a part of the country where I have no home, house, trailer or cabin to move into. You see, if I think about moving too much, invariably my mind's eye wants to know where I am moving to...where will this chair sit or that desk go?...and there are no answers.

In my imagination, there is only a grey mist depicting my future home.

A Sold sign, as Graham says, kind of tells me, in no uncertain terms, that I have gone too far along this particular Road to turn back. I laughed when he said it; how much more obvious could that be...and yet, denial is a strange, weird thing. Awesome in its terrible power.

I have a wondrous ability to do everything that requires doing, regarding the Move, while at the same time, closing out the truly painful part of the whole thing. I have done this throughout my life; it is an epiphany of realize I put off facing my true feelings and reality, until they become too large and omnivorous to ignore...but not one that is unfamiliar.

However, Creator has decided it was time to realize, fully and completely, this part of me. There is no Home in the offing, for me to further concentrate upon, to further stuff pain away...

There is only Now.

This day...this hour...this minute. I am reminded of page 449 in the Big Book...everything is exactly the way it is meant to be, right now.

My mind switches to Gratitude.

I have had time to hear my Grandson's first words...he says "Delicious!", amongst others. I have managed to keep steady my relationship with my Granddaughter, who is presently changing and maturing at a rapid rate, so fast it is difficult for me to keep up with her interests. I have realized and accepted the Love between Bree and I will not wane, even through the Turbulent Teens.

It has become wildly apparent to this Mother that her Daughter is a balanced, wise Adult, very well able to handle her own affairs, without me managing and controlling and advising. Quite often, these days, it is the other way around. When I complained about moving to a Motel Room, she said it would give me time to know Williams Lake, to wander around, take pictures and find my way along the misty Road I'm on.

Hmmm. She sounds like someone I am beginning to know a bit better...a little like me.

Heidi will live her life, using some of my teachings, some from Life, and some from other Mentors. No longer is it all in my Hands. The image I have of her as forever around the age of sixteen is no longer relevant.

I placed the selling of this Home in Creator's and Grandfather Tree's hands, with total faith it would sell very quickly. And it did.

I asked for people who would love this old Home as much as I did. On one of my forever Walks with the Dogs, tiredness overcame us, and I sat on a pile of lumber in the front Garden. The future purchasers wandered over to me, and intuitively, immediately, before anyone else even understood... I knew these people were the New Owners.

While they were drawing up the offer for this Home, Eagle flew around Grandfather Tree three times, in concentric Circles, in full view of myself and a carpenter who was working on the new gate. Anxiety about any conditions applied to the offer disappeared.

The New Owners have similar ideas to ours for furthering the improvements on this Home. One of them is a Woodworker, and understands Trees and their needs. The other is a Healer/Teacher/Gardener...and her birthday is the same date as mine. The whole event of selling became, as our Realtor mentioned, a very serendipitous movement...very smooth and easy.

There is great Gratitude for my heightened awareness of spiritual messages, which has increased dramatically during this time. Relying on total intuition is not easy; it requires strong vigilance for the unusual and faith in Opening myself to whatever is at whatever moment.

It requires standing and facing down the fearful Ego...the one that envisions only problems ahead.

And so, as I pack up my office, I feel, mostly, at peace. Fear manages to force its way in, every once in awhile. I have only to remember the Sunrise, on the morning that Graham left for the Cariboo. I had given my new camera to Graham, and only had my older one. The colours in these photos have not been altered in any way, it was the most brilliant, luridly so, almost, Sunrise I had ever encountered.

A Sunrise that heralded a New Beginning, one which had the definite stamp of approval given by the Universe.

So...who am I to worry endlessly about a future home? This whole event has been fated to be; it is orchestrated by a far greater and more knowledgeable Hand than mine.

And how many more signs proclaiming all is as it should be could I reasonably expect? I have had too many to count already.

A Home will appear, just when I least think about or expect it. It is the way of things.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Turnip Chowder

When Graham is away, I find it difficult to eat balanced, proper meals, existing instead on bran muffins and cheese. There are many varieties of bran muffins and of course, the cheese variety is spellbounding.

I can go a long while before I get tired of this combination.

But it's been very cold for a very long time, it seems. The Arctic Front that has the province in its grasp won't let go and my bones take on the damp chill, becoming wooden and leaden.

It feels to me like it's time for some Chowder, and Turnips come to mind...the big Swede Turnip...the one with the strong, unmistakable Turnip taste.

My mother made a dish similar to this, and that is from where the inspiration for this Chowder comes. Her recipe was a side dish; however, I love Turnips so much I turned it into a Chowder. It's a terrific dish on a cold Winter's Day, both a seasonal and local vegetable.

Turnips are great for your friend Jackie writes about this vegetable here. The golden chunks of this vegetable in its broth is a picture of warmth and comfort. And it's time for both.

I begin by sauteing smoked turkey drumsticks or wings or hocks in a little olive oil, just for a couple of minutes. I add large chunks of smoked bacon, and render it all down. Then I add all the aromatics...onions and parsley and carrots and bay the meat in the stock pot. I usually use chicken broth to cover, adding pepper.

I let it simmer, uncovered, for a couple of hours. I tend the base of the Chowder, by adding liquids, either broth or Water, as it simmers down, tasting as I go.

It tastes as if it needs Horseradish, this stock I'm making. I add some, along with Apple Cider Vinegar...ahh, there it is, that pleasant sharp taste sensation at the back of the throat...the finish. I remove whatever meat and bones I've used, and the Bay leaves.

I add the Turnips, cut into large bite-sized chunks, lest they fall apart, to the broth. The pale yellow chunks soon turn golden, sending their unmistakable scent on the steam that rises from the bubbling liquid. More onions, carrots and Horseradish are added.

Any meat, which by now is completely falling off the bones, is diced and added to the Chowder. And then, chunks of whatever sausage I happen to have on hand are stirred into the golden brew, whose colour reminds me of Sun's golden, warm Rays...

I turn the heat to low. I dice a couple of Potatoes, ready to be added to the Chowder after the Turnip is almost done. And then I let the Turnips gently cook, melding the flavours together.

This recipe is always a midwinter one for me. Swedes don't have much flavour until they have had a bit of Frost, which intensifies and sweetens them.

I open the back door; Sun is high in the Sky. It is still cold out, but the rays of Sun remind me of the coming Spring, as they flood the interior of the mud room. The Dogs sprawl out in the Sunlight, loving the fleeting warmth of the Winter Sun. And the Turnip Chowder sends its aroma throughout the neighbourhood.

I go to the front garden. I have largely ignored it this Winter, having prepared it well in the Autumn. It does not take long for me to immerse myself in it, becoming oblivious to the World around me. The Hydrangeas need a bit of pruning; the Magnolia is budding and will soon bloom, by the looks of the fat buds. The Daffodils are showing green, strappy leaves...and yes, there is a bud or two braving the cold.

As I look at the Elder Tree, the one who came out of nowhere to grow against the house, I become aware of a couple of neighbours standing on the street, discussing neighbourly things. I wander over, as greetings are exchanged.

We discuss housing, a subject that has been mulled over since the For Sale sign appeared on my front Lawn. Both neighbours feel badly for me, they say, having to stay behind to sell the house...and who knew when it was going to sell? Houses don't sell quickly, especially in the middle of a Cold Snap.

I tell them the house sold, for all intents and purposes, last week. There are a few conditions to be met, which is why there is no Sold sign across the For Sale sign as yet.

There is silence. Each glance at the other. I laugh and say...It's true!

One of the elderly neighbours quickly remembers his manners and congratulates me; the other mulls over the conditions yet to be met in a negative manner and then grudgingly gives me his well-wishes.

I smile at him, understanding he would rather live in a world populated with Worries and Fear, than in one where he would be required to Open his Heart to Joy.

As we stand discussing the Sale, the smell of Turnip Chowder wafts and circles around our noses; one fellow's eyes light up and he says...Turnips! with awe. He lives alone, you see...

The other said...I hate Turnips! but his nose followed the seductive, homey, warm scent sent by the Chowder. He lives with his daughter.

I explained I had a craving for this particular Chowder this morning. I laughed as I told them how my Chowders, no matter what kind, always make enough to feed an army...and I offered them some, explaining potatoes had yet to be added, but it was done pretty much.

One fellow accepted eagerly; the other shrugged his shoulders and said...only a little, mind.

I went in and filled two earthenware soup plates, placed a dab of Horseradish in the centre, and added a spoon.

I gave it to them, hot and comforting, with golden steam, right there in the Sunlight.

This is very good, said one. It's not bad, said the other.

They wandered off to their homes, tasting as they went, taking the aroma of the Chowder further through the neighbourhood, for other taste buds to salivate at the scent of...Turnips!

I went in, to add the Potatoes and more Parsley and adjust the seasoning.

And as I prepared my Dinner, I wondered...would I think this Chowder was very good...or not bad...

I think it all depends on my point of view.