Thursday, February 15, 2018

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Night Of The Cat.

   For a guy that was pet-less for over 25 years, I seem to have acquired a regular clowder of cats around here. I've got Chyk and Chuk, my over-fed guard-cats that live in the house, and theres the new young cat Spook that lives out in the shop. But there has been another, less obvious member of the menagerie. A mystery cat that has survived by his wits in the wilds for I don't know how long.
   Last fall down at the hot spring people reported eyes at night around the campsite and food items missing in the morning. I caught a quick glimpse of it crossing a trail one day there, but that was all. The guys down at the gate have seen it a few times, and it spent some time around the cabin there in search of scraps or garbage bags to tear into, but it remained an elusive creature that would run off when it saw you. It's tracks evident in the snow showing it was still around, I began to take down food for it once a week to help take the edge off, as I'm sure it led a very tough life.
   Somehow, wild-cat finally found his way in the snow all the way up to the lodge about a month ago, I think he probably followed the snowmobile tracks here, his clandestine activities betrayed by a bag of garbage ripped into on the front porch one frigid night, and odd cat tracks around at first light.
Of course I began to leave a dish of food out for it which would be gone in the morning, the dish licked clean. I don't know where it spent it's days, but if caught in the flashlight beam at night it would always bound off taking huge leaps. I managed the catch it by accident a couple times, just a flash as it scampered off to the woods, I'm not even sure what color it is. Anyways, I was glad he was getting a steady meal for a change, as he was I'm sure, and might find himself a spot under the shop or the guest cabin maybe. Even though it may cause some issues with the existing cats, and the fact that I may never get near him, it was nice to know he was warm and dry, a full tummy, and safe from predators. I looked forward to going out to the shop in the morning and checking that his dish there by the door was empty. He was usually referred to as wild kitty, but I started calling it Spunk.
So we had Chyk and Chuk, and Spook and Spunk.
   A couple mornings ago I came out to the shop at first light to see he had been back as evident by his empty dish. I walked in and before I had time to sit down I heard a strange noise from outside. There is only so many sounds that happen out here, and anything out of the ordinary gets my attention. I heard it again and wondered if it was a raven, then all hell seemed to break loose outside, like the sound of the worst cat fight you can imagine. I ran out the door and through the orchard towards the racket. It was just getting light in the open, but once I got into the trees where the cats were fighting I had a difficult time seeing. Thinking my tom had got into it with wild Spunk I started hollering as I got there and as I stood there trying to focus in on the snarling ball of fur at the base of a tree I suddenly realized it was a bobcat that had jumped a cat. At the time I didn't know what cat as I couldn't see, but this bobcat is laying on its side holding some poor creature biting clawing and scratching with it's hind legs and all the time the victim is screaming bloody murder.
If there is one sure way of getting me stirred-up it is something chewing on my cats.
   I still had on my slippers and thought twice about putting my feet in there but I looked down and saw a branch then picked it up and started in on the bobcat. He jumps up and bounds away and in my rage ran after him smacking at it with my stick. I turned around expecting to see an injured cat left behind, but nothing, the cat was gone. I ran back inside where I was greeted by the shop kitten Spook, whom appears to be unaware of any bobcat attack out in the yard. I ran back over to house to check that Chyk and Chuk were accounted for. Well, it had to of been poor Spunk. Going back outside we see that bobcat has returned to the scene of the attack, hoping to start in where he left off when I had arrived on the scene. I dug out a firearm and put in a full clip, I hunted around following his tracks and catching nothing but a brief glimpse, but the bobcat had wisely left the scene.
   It had snowed just a little the night before, just enough to make perfect tracks and I could put together how it all went down. I could see where the bobcat had wandered around in the night close to the house, searching for a victim. There was snow in some of his tracks so I knew he had been around for several hours. When I clomped up the deck at the shop that morning, Spunk ran out from under there and around the back of the shop as he always seemed to do. Unfortunately this time a bobcat had been staking out the area, and him, and immediately moved in for the kill.

 The tracks showed a spirited dash for life before the bobcat caught up to Spunk and there was a violent take-down here behind the shop, evident by the skid-marks and scratches on the ground.

Well, I know what color it is now by the amount of fur left behind.
The snow was flattened out like there had been quite a battle, but it looked like Spunk had broken free and ran under the snowmobile trailer which probably slowed the bobcat down a little. Spunk's tracks emerged from the other side at a run and probably made the mistake of trying to climb a tree where it was an easy matter for the bobcat to leap up and haul it back down into a depression at the bottom where it attempted to tear the life out of the poor cat. From the time I first heard the first sound that got my attention it had taken me less than 20 seconds to get to the scene of the attack, which felt like an eternity. I never did see Spunk, but his tracks were there, leading from the scene at a fast rate, passing under the camper trailer, back to the shop and under the deck then emerging from the other end and making a direct line for the guest cabin where there was a safe area underneath.
There was no blood, but I know from experience the damage done by wild-cats from the woods.
   I'm hoping he is in fact under the small cabin, warm and dry, and nursing his injuries, which I hope are not too severe, but you have to wonder about infection too. I've been staying clear of there for fear of scaring him off into the woods, if he hasn't gone already. But the fact is, I don't know where he is right now, and he will never seek help. I feel bad for the poor guy, or girl, to have lived so long on it's own then when it gets somewhere 'safe' it gets jumped by a predator.
The poor bugger finally had it made. I've been setting his food out at night, but so far, it has remained untouched. The bobcat has moved on for now, but it will be back when you least expect it.
I cleaned my rifle yesterday, checked the sights, taped a powerful flashlight to the barrel, and I keep it in a handy location. Wish me luck.

If you haven't heard enough about wild critters from the woods.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Taste Test.

    A guy is never too old to learn it seems, and more often than I care to admit sometimes find myself in a situation that I could of handled a whole lot smarter like. Take that episode a few weeks back for instance, when I wandered out to the shop one morning before light as I usually do to make tea and read the Internet news. I turned on the lights out there and plugged the kettle in, and heading over to light the stove I happen to spot a small puddle of liquid underneath a motorcycle.
This got my curiosity up as theres nothing I hate worse than something leaking on the shop floor. 
   Funny I didn't smell gas, and anyways, I knew the bike had no fuel in it, and being an air-cooled engine it wasn't coolant. Brake fluid, it had to be brake fluid, but it didn't make sense why it would leak there. A leaky roof? It hadn't rained since before winter, and anyways, how the hell would the roof leak under a motorcycle. I got down on my knees for a closer inspection of the offending pool of fluid, sticking a finger in there to see if it was oil or water. 
It didn't feel like either, really, which only deepened the mystery.
   Like I mentioned, it was early, and I'm not so sure all the brain cells were fully operational quite yet but those that were, were fully engrossed in the variables of the puddle mystery. Pretty soon the other part of my brain, the three-quarters of it that is not quite up to speed yet decides to get involved, it takes control of my arm and dips a couple fingers in the mystery puddle, then brings a sample up close to my nose and I took a few sniffs. 
It wasn't gasoline, it wasn't anti-freeze, it wasn't brake-fluid and it wasn't quite water. What the hell was it? I watched my fingers go back for another dip, then up to my lips, hesitating for a moment before wiping them on an eagerly outstretched tongue to better identify the small pool of mystery liquid. 
Well, it tasted like nothing I had ever tasted before that's for sure.
   So I'm standing there at 6 in the morning swishing this around in my mouth and contemplating the bouquet when it suddenly dawns on me what it was, and you guessed right, it was cat urine. I made a run for the sink and held my mouth under the tap until I nearly choked on it. 
A good lesson learned, and you can bet I will be more careful when licking things off the shop floor around here in the future from now on.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years at the Hot Spring

The first morning of the year today and it was a beautiful one, but somewhat on the cool side.

We've had a stretch of cold weather like most of Canada, but despite the adversity so far I've managed to keep the power system up and running and the 'lodge cozy which is a big priority.

We've been snow free out here in the moutains until 4 days ago...
...then it began to look a little more like the end of December.

I've been growing some world-class icicles out on the shop roof.

Seeing there was sufficient snow I took a run down to the hot spring on the borrowed sled this morning to see what as going on this New Years day.

   I took down some cat-food to leave out for the mystery cat, which I set out there in a likely spot I hope he/she finds. My last post (2 months ago) I wrote about a new cat I acquired some people had found wandering near the hot spring campsite, and it turns out there was another, darker little cat that has been spotted hanging around campsites at night and getting spotted on occasion by the guys there at the office. It is three quarters wild and you can't get near it, poor thing. I don't need another one or anything, but I like to help out the little bugger is this harsh weather.
   There were 5 or 6 outfits camped-out and braving the minus 5 daytime temperatures and a few had left already by the time I arrived so it was a pretty good turn out for New Years Eve by the looks of things. They were all treated to a beautiful, bright full moon.
I think the majority of folks were packing-up when I pulled in and there wasn't anyone down at the tubs, so I got a chance to take some pictures. I usually don't take any if people are around.

I did bump into Kenny and Pia though, they read my site here and come out fairly regular for a week at a time.
"It's pretty comfortable in the camper-van." he told me,
"Other than our doors are froze shut."
I stopped in to see Ken at his campsite over in the corner, another Hotspringlodge reader, he and his crew of kids stomped a trail in the deep snow all the way down here the other day just to say hello.

   I could have dressed a little warmer so after a bit of visiting down there I heard a hot-chocolate calling my name and headed back home to stick close to the wood-stove.
Its been a pretty good start to the year, did some visiting, and nothing broke down.
I've got all the sh*t that broke down last year still, but nothings broken down yet this year.
I'm hoping my good luck continues.
Happy New Year all.

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

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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.