Opening up the cabin 2015

It’s time.
It’s time to open the cabin for the year. All winter the cabin sits in a frozen valley 200km from the door of my city house. It’s still chilly up there, but the promise of spring is in the air.
I took a lot of photos, and it’s probably going to be quite boring for all of you who’ve seen the cabin before, but, you know what, mostly I write these posts with Robbie in my heart, (because right now we’re apart.)

So here we go, for Robbie, but also, most definitely, for you! 😀

Driving in, there was a small, dead birch across the access road. I moved it off to the side.

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Outside the cabin Clover’s and Kers’ bespoke wind chime is still hanging up. They built it from the scrap iron they found along the railroad tracks, which are only about 100 ft behind the cabin.


The lake, (which is actually a pond, but the previous owner and all the neighbours always referred to it as “The Lake”) has filled up already.

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And the cabin is still standing after the winter!

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I lit a fire to warm the cabin up and invite in the new year.

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Then, a quick check: Kitchen’s fine.

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No mouse droppings on the stoves or counters! A year ago Robbie and I went all over the place sealing up any little hole that a mouse might pop thru, and guess what Robbie, we did a great job!

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Dining area, living room all fine too. I didn’t take the shutters off the bottom windows.

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Fireplace working brilliantly, we’ll need to chop some more wood this year though.
Up the stairs to the sleeping loft…


…everything’s just fine. No mice, clean linens, fluffy, warm duvets.

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The games are all waiting to be played with.

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It’s lovely to look thru the contents of the vintage medicine cabinet. A photo of my grandfather camping, my aunt’s silly doll from her studio, silver ore, a dried bat, a hummingbird skeleton, dragonfly wings, hand painted Easter eggs, C’s silver baby rattle, love all these treasures.

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Nothing is the worse for winter, nothing got knocked down by the vibrations of the passing trains.

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Everyone is fine…if a little cobwebby.

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On the property, the tool shed is fine. I think some mice snuck in under the door, but, since it’s such a mess there anyway, nothing bad going on.

Odds and Ends, the heritage train workers trailer guest cabin, will need a new roof and the metal chimney toppled off. Must do that this year before something happens to the interior.

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A beaver’s been thru and there are about 10 small trees…

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…and one rather big tree down. There’s our firewood, right there!

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And I think you’re right Robbie, some of the trees need to come down. Perhaps I’ll talk it over with Jon, Kers and Clove and talk to Billy Jr and ask him to harvest that great big cedar right behind the cabin…maybe the one by the side door too. And the blue spruces in the meadow need to be trimmed up, and maybe some of the alders need thinning out too so we can see the meadow and the river from the cabin.

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Apart form that, the porches need rebuilding and the broken window need replacing. (Darn Canada goose)

So that’s on the project list this year: Thinned trees, one small roof, one wrap around porch, and a window.

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But guess what happened as I was locking up and leaving? I got the feeling that I was being watched!

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From up high by the window of the loft. Who’s that? Could it be a great horned owl?

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It is!

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Who is the luckiest girl in the world! That would be me. Who else do you know who has a great horned owl as the guardian of their cabin? 😀 I need to paint him, don’t I?

If I had that organic farm I keep threatening everyone with…

…it would look like this:

There would be a huge open barn with a chandelier swinging from the ceiling.

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Lovely, fresh organic produce would be available seasonally.

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Every inch would be lovely to look at.

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It would be family welcoming with lots of play areas for children.

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There would be places to sit beside a warm fire.

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And not just any old fire pit, a beautiful, huge metal disk of a fire pit.

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There would be a few farm animals and horse drawn wagon rides out to the pumpkin patch.

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And there would be a little store where everything would be golden and warm and seasonal, with a little bakery and good coffee and a few tables and chairs.

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This place really does exist. It is North Arm Farm and it’s conveniently right on my way to the cabin. If you ever head up to Whistler, you should really go a little further and stop by. It’s a lovely place.

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Blissful Saturday at the cabin

I spent a few tranquil hours at the cabin today.

To some, driving 200km to get out of town for a day sounds a bit like hard work, and Robert said it’s like driving from Oxford to Scotland and back, but that’s what life is like in Canada. Pretty wide open spaces, mountain passes to negotiate and the ocean to drive past means it will take a few kms to get out of town.

Besides, I wanted to check on the cabin, and this time of year is the loveliest time to go there.

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Here is the lake at the cabin. It’s actually just a pond that has illusions of grandeur, but someone named it The Lake, over 20yrs ago, before it became ours, and the name, for the sake of history, has stuck. It’s full and lush this time of year. Too cold to swim now, but hopefully it will freeze solid for a bit of skating this winter.

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Inside the cabin felt very cold, and certainly much colder than the outside, so I opened the windows and doors and built a cheery fire and the cabin warmed up in no time. Best thing we ever did was replace the smokey old stove with this terrifically efficient new one.

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Then, I went to have a walk around on the paths. (Cougars and bears be damned :) ) But I did feel much easier walking here when I had dogs.


This is the best time of year for wild mushrooms. (Except spring morels) Do you know your edible mushrooms from your poisonous ones? I only know about a dozen trusted types. These I’m not sure of so they stay right where they are.

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These are delicious and are coming home with me. My grandfather always cut the mushroom to leave the bottom piece int he ground. He believed the root system, the mycelium, needed to stay so more mushrooms would grow back. Grandmother would say that’s nonsense and yank the whole mushroom out of the ground, break off half the stem and toss that back to the earth.

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The moss is so lush right now. I couldn’t help gathering a little to take back to the city.

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I walked down to the river which flows thru the property. It’s beautifully clear and fresh, but not a lot of water. In the spring it’s thick with spawning fish.

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Best thing about today was I left the fog of Vancouver behind and spent the day in the warm sunshine. That’s worth the trip any day.


A fleeting moment and random five.

This morning my favorite Blue Ridge Gal reminded me that over at Nancy’s Rural Journal it’s time for a random five post and I’ve been thinking about the WordPress weekly photo challenge which is “fleeting”.

So I give you three dead Cedar Waxwings and say to you, “Life is fleeting. One minute you’re flying along and the next you hit a great, big window.”

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The huge wall of double story windows have claimed their fair share of birds over the years…including a Canada goose who broke the glass. I do feel really bad about this though, but I guess it’s all fair. I mean, the poor little bodies do provide food for the other creatures and, in the wild, not much goes to waste.

The random things I’d like to tell you are:

1. I love the work of Robert Bateman. Love it, love it to pieces. Each time I find a dead bird I want to freeze it like he does and take it out frozen, pose it and use it as a model for painting. He talks about the sad little creatures which, after seven or so thaws and freezes, really do have to be discarded. Guess I’d learn to work really fast.

2. I only heard a single thud against the window and I guess the whole little flock flew into it at almost the same time. When little tragedies happen I go into complete shock and disbelief each time. That sort of unacceptance even though I know in my heart it’s the situation. Wish I had a time machine. True enough.

3. I held the birds in turn, feeling their warmth, feeling their softness. I felt all teary. Couldn’t put them down. They are so unbelievable soft and real and felt so…alive. I always have this need to remember, to feel, to take in everything, not to leave out any sensory detail. Is that my artistic soul? Or is it what everyone does? Couldn’t stop photographing them. Is that morbid?

4. I questioned whether or not I should have the little flock stuffed. I’ve had a pheasant, a seagull and a kamikaze quail, who ran into my car wheel, stuffed. But then I remembered the incredible hassle of trying to get a permit for the gull – a migratory bird – to have him stuffed, and also remembered that I don’t have electricity at the cabin and cannot freeze their little bodies and so gave up on that idea.

5. I walked around the cabin trying to find the perfect place to bury them. The real story is I couldn’t bring myself to put three such exquisite creatures into the ground. If you must know, I still have my late aunt’s ashes in my home. My grandmother kept grandfather’s ashes in her china cabinet until her death, and then I interned them both in the family crypt in Prague. I hate having them there. I wish I had them here with me. For the past several years I’ve said I must take Aunt Vera to the alpines and sprinkle her ashes there, but having her here gives me some strange comfort and, even though I hike into alpines each September, I’ve never brought her ashes with me. Maybe this year.

Whew, this is what comes from taking photos.

Just back from three glorious days at the cabin

One of the glorious things about living in the great North West is…well…the great North West!
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About 200 km away from the door of my house, past Whistler, thru the Pemberton Valley, past lakes and over rivers is mile 120 on the rail road and that is the location of my cabin.
It’s heaven there.

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We bought the cabin when Jonathan and Kerstin were 12 and 10 and Chloe was just a few days old so this means we’ve had it for 21 years.
The view out is to the west, over a lake, meadow, river and up to these two beautiful mountains. That’s Gates Mountain on the left with the Birken glacier and Birkenhead Mountain on the right.

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The lake is really a pond, but it was called lake before we bought the cabin and tradition prevails. Over the years two rafts have been built and a Tarzan swing, river otters call it home for the winter and all sorts of water fowl stop over for the night.


The inside is full of vintage and family collectibles. This old scale holds coins that the children have squashed on the train tracks.

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There is a medicine cabinet on the wall that holds strange treasures, like: my late aunt’s silly doll, a photo of my grandfather camping, owl feathers, a dried bat, bugs and dragonflies, silver ore and Chloe’s baby rattle.

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The cabin is very rustic and has well loved vintage furniture and a new wood stove to replace the smoky old one.


Here is a little remembrance to my tea cup gals. There is no elecricity at the cabin and no phone or internet, so I’ve missed you all this week, but thought about you all. :)

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My tea set at the cabin is Royal Doulton stone ware in a pattern called Africa. It is the richest most beautiful brown hue I’ve ever seen.

tea cups

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First thing I do when I open the cabin is take the hammock outside. It gets almost constant use. The wind chime was custom made by C and K from scrap iron found on the railroad tracks.


This is a little guest cottage called Odds and Ends. It is built from an old trailer used by the work gangs who built the railroad thru to Lillooet.

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I’m very interested in gardening and so try to grow as many wildflowers as I can up there. This time of the year there are so many beautiful flowers and each time we get to the cabin, winter or summer, we try to find flowers or greenery or something lovely to decorate the cabin with. Then, I just can’t resist and end up taking a great big bunch home.


Now I’m back in Vancouver and planning the next visit. :)