Sunday, May 17, 2009

Opening Night

On Friday evening we celebrated the functional opening of the bath. Still some work to do but now we can shower, soak in the tub, watch the mountains turn rosy in the evening light and enjoy the sanctuary it offers.

The Bath - penultimate touches

Before installing the furnishings, sink and toilet, the bathroom walls need preparation. Two walls are still cedar logs, lovely warm wood, but showing the effects of thirty years of use, especially the wrestling tournament developing from the removal of the old steel, and very stubborn, bathtub. Gloriously attired I assaulted the logs with a small palm sander on Saturday evening. After two hours work I assessed progress and realized I had started a 50 hour project. (I love math.) Downing tools I headed for the hardware store to obtain a box of "shock and awe." In four hours the walls were thoroughly cleansed, the marks of the tub removal now almost invisible, covered by the scars of my initiation to the mysteries of the belt sander. But I had the room painted and ready for the plumber on Tuesday afternoon

Our plumber, Dirk, approaches the household integration of water, plastic and metal as a philosophical exercise. He ponders the balance of nature and man, carefully considering the potential waywardness of water, the frailities of things and solutions appear moving one to cleanliness and control. At least most of the time.

The washstand and sink moved into the bathroom. Water lines came up through the floor. Drains were attached, the sink fitting I bought was wrong so back to the shop for the right piece. The shower clip arduously drilled into the ceramic tile (Dirk's memory of the right spot being far more accurate than mine) and shower taps installed. Dirk descended to the basement to finish the water supply and begin the flow of a bathroom's lifeblood. On my way out I happened past the bathroom and was surprised to see a thin stream of water spraying some 4 metres across the room and out the door. The cosmic forces seemed to be in disarray - I called down to shut off the water. It gradually subsided to a strangled drool. Dirk came up to see what I had done wrong but my alibi was established by the discovery of a faulty O-ring.

The rule of feng-shui was restored.

Building Neighbourhood the JX way

Mark, Mary and their two daughters live next door. Over the years the family has built up a menagerie of animals to share their piece of Yukon forest. There are chickens and turkeys, some of which we were pleased to add to our freezer last fall. There is "horse" who regularly steps up onto the deck of the house in the evening to watch television over the shoulders of the family, two dogs, a couple of goats and Joseph Xavier, the Vietnamese pig. Heavily jowled, charcoal grey, and short legged, JX patrols the property fence line, keeping his keen, beady eye on the activities of the suspicious neighbours. Except in deepest winter when the snow makes his patrols both difficult and unnecessary, he has a routine more rigorous than anything Home Land Security operates. A couple of weeks ago the carpentry crew working on our house stopped all their work to watch JX makes his first patrol of the spring. He swiveled his large head and scowled at them briefly before continuing his languid pace along the wire.

Yesterday, JX mounted an external operation slipping past the fence and disappearing down the road. Mark and the girls headed off to find him, eventually tracking him down at the school about two kilometres away. Joy saw them on the way home from the shops and suggested I go out and help. I figured a mounted rider might be helpful in case JX made a run for it - forgetting the short legs. By the time I made it out to the road I saw JX coming around the corner. Mark had a switch in each hand to aid in pig navigation and beside and behind him, covering the whole roadway, was a neighbourhood group running and shouting encouragement on the great pig drive. There were the two girls, several other small children, a mother with babe in arms, a teen driving an old green van and another woman pushing a wheel barrow - a scene straight out of a fairy tale. At the gate JX paused briefly, surveyed his followers and, with as much decorum as a stately highly regarded pig can muster, led the multitude into the yard for juice and and a snack.

We all feel safer now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Takhini River Walk

Water is still deep on many trails, rushing in streams that will be dry in two weeks. But for now they add a magic new sound to the forest. The river is low, stranded ice colouring the sand bars and glinting on the mountains across the river.
(click on the images to see larger version)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day and Birthday Treats

Early May - Joy's birthday with Mothers Day following closely behind. Can two bumbling men actually get it together and organize a party, purchase a gift (or two) or even clean the house? The answer, apparently, is no. We both had good intentions. I had gone to find flowers but discovered the shop was almost completely renovated into offices. I was nonplussed, wandering the streets wondering what plan B was. Fortunately the flower shop had only moved a block away so life took on a rosier hue for awhile. Andrew vased the flowers and we were well chuffed until Joy came home and hauled an enormous bouquet out of the back of the care, a garden dwarfing our humble efforts. Curse the loyalty and forethought of women co-workers. It's almost like they knew how useless men could be.

We did get Mum/Joy out for lunch on Sunday at Real Foods and enjoyed the boys great chow and coffee.

New Fridge

In late April the days get longer and the sun shines warmer, snow melts and the snow on the sides of mountains begins to slide. On Monday it was especially bright and warm in the White Pass and as Joy approached the summit she ran into an avalanche covering the road. There were already a few cars on both sides of 20 metre long "instant" snowdrift and a couple of people were busy shoveling a path through on the cliff side of the road where the snow was not so deep. Soon a narrow trench was made and the cars filed through, first those going inland - they had the shovels - and then those heading to the sea. Joy made it to the Customs station at the summit where they had closed the road because a larger avalanche had just piled down near Summit creek. Another long wait while the American and Canadian loaders made their way through the deep snow. No halibut burger for Joy.

On the way home we looked at the quickly melting remains of the snow drifts and wished away the remains. On our arrival home we discovered our fridge had died the night before with contents melting as quickly as the avalanches. Now we prayed fervently for our backyard snowbanks to stay cool as we dug a new fridge into their flank. How many days before the new compressor arrives? No one was sure. We eventually started packing snow into pails and putting it into the comatose fridge to keep it cool. This worked great until in my enthusiasm for packing in the snow I cracked the bottom of the pail. Unfortunately I didn't notice until the next morning when I found the fruit and meat drawers full of water. A brief moment of wondering was interrupted by the sluice of icy water down my pants as I opened the drawer. Back to the snow bank. Long may the spring last and our snow bank survive.

Reading the Inside Passage

On the way home from Aunt Betty's funeral I met Andrew in Vancouver. Together we traveled south on the train to Bellingham to catch the ferry home. We arrived a day early and spent hours in the book store. Two books caught my eye, a graphic novel on the Vietnam War, a favorite topic of mine these days, and an architect's analysis of "camps," everything from going recreational tenting to refugee camps. Just admired the drawing so far.

The ferry trip was unusual for the west coast - four days of gentle breezes and full sunshine - a lot of people were in shock. Andrew responded by sleeping in a lot. I, on the other hand, was up early, grabbed a coffee and settled out on the deck to read and watch the mountains go by.

In Skagway Mum came down to pick us up. She was late, had hoped to get into Skagway early and enjoy a halibut burger for lunch but ran into difficulties on the road.