the Good Things

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We did a little celebrating these last few weeks!  Mom’s 79th birthday seemed to last for a week with lots of  visiting, birthday cake with her friends, a fantastic dinner and a few whiskey shots throughout the days!

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Jules, mom (in her signature apron) and Kim enjoying a birthday shot

And if that wasn’t enough, Dad finished his final chemo treatment and rang the bravery bell!

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where we have been, where we have come, what we have accomplished. May we only have to ring the bell once.

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Check out that smile.  Not a dry eye in the room, happy tears!

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The great staff at the cancer center

Some of my favorite days are when Gerry and Jules show up to sample a new bottle of whiskey.  Each shot is carefully poured while mom gets out the whiskey bible.  Before we can read the description, there is plenty of sniffing, swishing and speculating… is that pencil shavings? leather? carmel corn?  inside grandpa’s house? Then the taste. Citrus, butter, pepper, wood, dirty feet… it gets crazier until we must look in the book to validate our guesses or name that illusive flavour.  Grilled meat?  Who writes these things!?  The revelation calls for one more taste as Jules documents the experience.  “More shocking than tassels on tits!” she writes.  A reference to an experience 9-year-old Curtis had in a circus tent.  There are good times in those whiskey bottles!

 

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Getting a good whiff while a shovel-woman that looks very much like her mother-in-law looks on.

I can’t forget my Cousin Dan, and wife Marilyn, daughter Crystal and cousin Linda all came for a few days this month.  Dan and I started every vehicle on the farm; tractors, snowmobiles, trucks and cars, ATV and gator and of course the new snowblower.  Bring it on, Winter!  Crystal had all the old photos sorted and figured out how we were all related by the time they left.  Linda nearly had to take the sheep dog home, Lady was so attached.  Marilyn helped me get going on the chicken coop construction. We all went to Jasper one day too.

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Beer and Poutine. Two very good things!

Fun time at McNaughton’s for Grey Cup!

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Deb, Shirley, Jules, me and dad

 

One more good thing!  Chris was flying the Stearman for agelessaviation.org and happened to be near my Uncle Darrell in Florida.  They were able to hang out and take a ride together.

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Well, that’s November!  Thanks for checking in and for all the blog encouragement!

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Never Tease a Weasel

Had a funny message from dad this morning;

The weasel came in last night and woke us up trying to get into a chicken Bonnie was thawing out!   Had to hide it in the shower, then it had a fit and turned into a wolverine!  Had to give it a half can of dog food.  Bonnie got up and watched TV while I slept on the couch.  She said it ran across me twice, then nibbled on her toes! Geeze!tale of a weasel tail

The Little Bugger (as my parents call him) is really keeping us entertained these days.  He runs out to the barn and gets his daily egg from the chicken and zips back to the house as soon as he smells mom’s cooking.  I called, here kitty kitty, and out he came and zipped past the chicken in the shower.  Mom says he doesn’t know he’s not a cat so she calls him like that, and he comes!  Trouble is so does the dog, and the birds…

The chickens were getting cold last week so I built them a little shelter out of boards I found in the shop.  They were checking it out but haven’t been in yet.  Hopefully the Little Bugger can roll his egg out of there and not go after the hen!

Not much activity in the barnyard now, just the rooster and hen, 3 peacocks and 2 guinea hens.  IMG_9414

And after 45 years, the sheep and the llama are gone!IMG_8934

Lady doesn’t seem to mind not having to babysit the sheep but she still wants to go for walks and barks at whatever is out there at night.  She doesn’t get excited about the weasel.IMG_9431

Dad says it’s better to have one weasel than 100 mice.  Mom says he’s a goner if he breaches the bedroom door.  I can’t wait for spring until the kits come out!

 

Remembrance Day

poppy  This week I was able to be at the school for a Remembrance Day ceremony.  Weeks before people began wearing the symbolic red poppy obtained through donation from every store in town. We sang O Canada and God Save the Queen and paused for a minute of silence.  The bugle played as the flags were lowered in remembrance and local veteran Bob Balcaen talked about the reality of being a kid, fighting a war in a foreign country.

There was a parade Saturday and ceremonies all across the nation.  It was a very meaningful weekend here in Canada.  Nobody knelt during the anthem, people weren’t wearing different colored poppy in protest, there were no demonstrations, just reverence, gratitude, respect and remembrance.

Lest we forget, in appreciation of our veterans.

 

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My grandfather George Culp, served in WWI. His four sons all served in the military, his father in the US civil war.

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My dad, a Military Policeman in Japan (1958-59)

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Chris on his way to school, Armistice Day 2017.

X-Files

by Curtis Culp IMG_9074My neighbours used to come over and watch the x-files every Sunday when they first appeared on TV in the early 1990’s.  Now the series has made a brief return to TV and they are just as goofy, and the same neighbours are still coming over to watch the new ones.

One of the original shows sticks in my mind because of what happened the next day while on a salmon stream.  My job at that time was to enumerate (count) the Chinook salmon when they return in the fall to various streams and rivers in the Robson valley.

As I started up this particular small stream it was a dark cloudy day that made the area and water itself dark and foreboding.  I was thinking as I made my way upstream, how we had laughed the night before at the monster that was the subject of the FBI hunt.  It turned out to be a very large snake that was eating folks.

The stream itself was fairly slow and meandering until it reached a fork with the main river.  It would only take me about an hour to reach the main river and return.  My insulated chest waders reached under my armpits and were hot, despite the cool day.  There were several places in the stream that would have to be crossed, one very deep hole that would test the waders; and my courage.  If water went over the top of them I would be in serious trouble.

The deep hole proved to be no problem going upstream even as the water reached maximum height on the waders.  Each time I entered any water I had to be careful not to disturb any spawning that was going on.  Walking through the bush was tough going and unnerving. Then I stepped on a freshly killed salmon.  Leaving the area was now a priority; there had to be a bear lurking in the nearby bush.

Trying not to hurry or make too much noise, I finally reached the big salmon hole again and slipped into the water.  Midway across, with water up to my armpits, I felt something brush my legs.

All the times I had crossed river and stream, only twice had a salmon ever touched me.  Already unnerved by the close encounter with bear in the area, I looked down in the dark water to see what had hit my legs.  What happened next took only a second but seemed to take place in slow motion.  I saw the biggest, longest, blackest snake wrapping itself around my legs.  My mind screamed, snake! My body reacted and jumped. Immediately my legs were swept out from under me.

Thankfully, I was slowly being swept toward shallower water.  But by this time I was doing the backstroke and thinking, there are no snakes here! A waterlogged black tree root I must have dislodged floated up ahead of me.  Moulder and Scully would have been proud!

Dragging myself up on a nearby bank, I could barely stand up.  My chest waders had filled with 5000 pounds of water.  There I stood a huge man with a small head, I had become an X-file monster!

 

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Chemo Daze

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Good thing we left for Prince George a day early!  The snow and cold came in to stay but luckily the roads were clear and dry by the time we came home.

Dad had his 5th chemotherapy at the PG cancer center.  They were also celebrating 5 years since opening.  The nurses are fantastic and really take care with dad’s treatment.IMG_9263

The cancer doctor told us there was no new cancer growth and that the chemo is working to hold it all back!  Overall, dad feels better now than he did when he started.  In the beginning he had a broken leg and collarbone and was in a wheelchair.  Now he is up and around again without much pain.  Of course he walked around for 10 days with the broken leg before he went to see the MD so his pain tolerance may be a little different from ours!  Dad has a great attitude and makes a point of trying to lighten everyone’s mood.

from his Facebook:

So I was finishing up my Fourth Chemo treatment in Prince George when the Doctor there was concerned about my leg swelling! Blood clots are common with my cancer. Already a long day for me and my two handlers. (daughter and daughter-in-law law) I had to get another scan, sure enough I have one. So next step emergency to get a shot for it! The nurse checking me in asking me again for my name, date of birth, then telling me what area and room to go to. I leaned in closer to her window and asked, THAT’S NOT THE MORGUE IS IT?! When she finished laughing she said, I like how you roll ! Humour, it gets me through the day!  Awesome hospital, awesome busy folks that make it go round!

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getting an iron infusion and having a laugh

Part of the immediate side effects of the chemo are the munchies and chattiness!  On the way home we stop at the Husky gas station and load up on junk food, ready for the 2 hour drive home. Stacie and I heard tales from gory and hilarious from his years as an Oregon State policeman and on the most recent trip I heard stories about life before kids and the latter years with OSP when dad was promoted to detective.  Since it was Halloween he retold the X-files story from when he worked with Canada fisheries.  Dad is a fantastic story-teller and the trips go by quickly.  While I’m here I’ll try to get more police stories posted.

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I bet this guy has a story…

 

Tuesday’s Gone…

…and so is October.  I can’t believe how fast time has gone!  There is no snow yet (I take that back, I just looked outside), the ground is starting to freeze and all the color is gone from the mountains.  This little guy changed color in less than a week!

He is so funny to watch.  He comes in the house and has a look around, runs up to us when we get home and steals dog food, eggs and even pumpkin pie!

The big fall projects we had are now complete! The new well is clear and reliable.  It replaced a well that grandpa dug by hand over 40 years ago.

It was a bit of a process.  First Levi and his dad brought the backhoe out from Valemount (30 miles) and walked it down the driveway.IMG_8813

Then Frank Mintz came down about a week later and started to dig! Out with the old (laying by the trees) in with the new.  Gene figured out the pipes, connections and culvert drilling.  Minor setback as we broke all the drill bits and needed another piece which wouldn’t be in for another week…  In the meantime, Ken welds a platform to reach the pipes about 12 feet down.

Watching Frank work the backhoe is pretty fascinating!

Lunch after a productive morning!

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Clockwise: Gene, Frank, Shannon, Ben,Josie and Tim.  Julian made a yummy lasagna!

After the part arrives, the plumbing is put together and the hole is filled in and the area smoothed out again.  Matt comes out again about a week later to pump the silt out of the bottom.  In the meantime, brother Chris arrives and he is nominated to go into the well to install the long pipe with the foot valve that will draw the water up. Unfortunately after the glueing and fitting, there is a drip… we will need to go to town and get more fittings and that takes another day or two.

It’s hard to get the drip to stop after cutting the old fitting off.  Mom heard that if you stuff bread in the pipe, it absorbs the water long enough for the glue to set.  Then it gets flushed out after everything dries.  So mom made some bread plugs…

Success!  Chris and I went and found some rocks to line the bottom, then dumped some bleach in and waited for the water to settle, another few days.  Then the day of truth, we switched the water feed from the creek to the new well.  And… it didn’t work.  Ken came down a couple of days later and checked the pump out and replaced a blown fuse!  Everything was working!

A while later Gerry and Julian came down to landscape and spread some grass seed with the antique spreader.  Worked like a charm!IMG_9052

Time for a whiskey to celebrate the new well!IMG_9053

I’m convinced if you sit at any table at the farm, it won’t be long til someone joins you! Especially for whiskey!

The weather is getting worse so will end now and head to Prince George a day early.  Chemo tomorrow and more stories to come!

Reformation Sunday

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Dan texted this morning that he and the kids were headed to church and bratwurst potluck afterward in celebration of 500 years of the reformation-a pretty big day for us Lutherans.  I couldn’t help but feel far away from everybody who would be there today so I went over to the McBride Evangelical Free Church to hear that great good news.  Pastor Martin began his sermon talking about church family!  I couldn’t help but look around and realize that I have a church community right here too.

Of course there is Wes, Sue and Dwayne who we used to go to bible night with so they would come and play baseball with us.  They are with parents, spouses, kids and grandkids.  There is Bobber (who was one of the baseball kids back then) with his father and brother, our Dunster neighbors and newer friends Bonnie and Dwight, and the Welptons and Mrs. Arnold, our school secretary, who gave me my first bible.

So even though I didn’t get to sing A Mighty Fortress, eat bratwurst and be with Paradise friends today, it sure was good to enjoy Christian fellowship and appreciate some of the people who I’m sure said a prayer or two for me back in the day (and hopefully still do)!

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You can talk to God and listen to His casual reply…

 

 

Into the Great Wide Open…

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Grandpa Floyd’s spot.

It has been a gorgeous fall here and the days are flying by.

On the last day of September, my brother Chris, mom and I walked down the tracks to visit Grandpa.  His cross is located on Bergman slide and looks down towards the farm.  Every day around 2 pm the passenger train slows down for tourists to snap a photo.  Grandpa was great friends with the train crew so when we hear the train we grab the rescue mirror  and flash them a signal.

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Freight train headed for Dunster
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Chris and mom

 

 

Chris is really enjoying high school.  His outdoor education class the hiked 7km round trip Ozalenka valley trail and spent 2 nights.  The weather was clear and the moon was full!

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Practicing tent set-up with Uncle Bob
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Ozalenka
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King Creek hike

They practiced yesterday for a 2 day canoe trip next week!

Ben and Shannon came out last month too!  Chris had a hike up Mount Teare for the annual Terry Fox run so we took the truck up for a look. We also took a small hike into Rainbow Falls.

Mount Teare
Looking toward Raush Valley/Dunster
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out for a rip
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Shannon, me & Ben

 

 

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

Dad and I took the gator down to the edge of the property just under Bergman slide to see if the sandbar was big enough to reach the fishing hole.  It was, but the bridge across had washed away.  Gerry and Jules slipped down and replaced it the next day 🙂

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Checking out the sandbar

 

Stacie (my sister-in-law) came for 10 days and we tromped around the farm looking for paper bee hives, bird nests and birch bark for decorating their new house.  We found the wood cookstove that we used to cook hotdogs and hot chocolate on after cross-country skiing.  There were lots of beaver trees down at the creek and game trails everywhere.  Thank goodness the foot bridge was there at the end of that hike!

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Wood cookstove
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Beaver Tree
Beaver tree down by the creek
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Stacie’s picture

I also found a short hike near the house in McBride.  Horseshoe lake is a bird sanctuary with a pavilion and viewing platform.

Horseshoe Lake

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Under them skies of blue…

Tom Petty Oct. 20, 1950 – Oct. 2, 1917

9000 Fish & 15 minutes of Fame

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Our flight path over Mount Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

Last Friday was the second part of the Kokanee salmon count!  By far better than digging for the otolith  is the helicopter count.  I met Gene at his house in Tete Jaune along with Knowledge Network and Discovery Channel director/cinematographer,  Simon Schneider.  Simon had contacted Gene’s wife Linda for an interview after seeing the Blackmans featured in the book The Fraser River.  He is working on a documentary about the Fraser river which runs beside their log home. When he heard what Gene was up to, he asked if he could tag along.  So Gene was rigged up with a mic and Simon rolled the camera and we tried to act natural!

We stopped at the Funky Goat for a burger first and Simon filmed us having lunch, chatting and swatting meat bees.  Gene pretended to pay for the sake of the documentary and left a $5 tip which hopefully made the cut, haha!  I didn’t get a food picture but Dave makes great poutine!

So then we headed to Yellowhead Helicopters to meet the base manager and our pilot, Matt MorisonI took the front seat with Gene sitting behind me.  Simon sat behind the pilot in the “pinecone seat”.  He would be the only one without a good view as we would tip towards the water on our side and he would be hanging like a pinecone above us.

 

Then that amazing feeling!

I didn’t take many pictures mainly because I just wanted to take it all in.  We circled a few times at the mouth of the creek to get an idea of what a group of 100 looks like from the air.  Gene spotted a group of Kokanee right away.  Slight panic, I didn’t see anything!  Took off my sunglasses and was able to see the red fish he was talking about.  Counters out, ready to go, we meandered up the creek, searching and clicking.  We were immediately joined by 8-12 bald eagles which escorted us on the journey.  Gene called out what he saw and we agreed on the numbers as we went.  Halfway we checked to see if we had the same count.  It was 29/27.  Second half was 58/60,  about 9,000 fish.  Dad said that was a pretty good count for this time of year although a bit on the low side.kokanee 2012 007

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Eagle and Kokanee

Did a little drive by so Simon could get some footage then headed towards Mt. Trudeau.  It is the proposed site for a new ski area.  Again, not many pictures, well some of my feet and a video I can’t upload here.

Me, Matt and Gene
Me, Matt and Gene

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Thanks again, Gene!  I hope we make the cut (without lettuce in our teeth).

 

Finding the Otolith

Kokanee Salmon

Dad has worked with the Canadian Fisheries department for over 30 years; counting the Chinook Salmon as they come up to spawn in the local creeks.  In the last 20 years or so he has also been counting Kokanee salmon and harvesting the otolith, a little bone in the ear.  So today we met up with the “new guys” to show them the ropes!

Actually, Claude has been helping dad for many of those years.  He has perfected the camouflage hook and mastered the refraction!IMG_8870

So we gathered 10 male and 10 female, a few extras for practice and an incriminating photo of Gene and a cute redhead.

The first part was pretty straightforward, weight and length.

Gene did the dirty work and Claude recorded.

Now for the hard part!  The otolith is about the size and shape of a chili pepper flake but bone white.  The pair sit in little pockets behind the brain.  So the trick is to slice the head just right in order to expose that section.IMG_8883

otolith
It’s that little hole just under the black finger, and the otolith is that white flake between the tweezers.

The collection of the Kokanee salmon data, in part helps determine the effect that the local damn at Kinbasket lake has had on spawning salmon. That little bone can detect age, environmental conditions and growth. https://thefisheriesblog.com/2014/01/13/through-the-ears-of-a-fish/

Always fun to hang out with Dad, Gene, Claude and my brother.  Lots of ribbing and banter, stories and laughs. The newbies did a fantastic job, finding that little thing!  A great day on Camp Creek!