The Ranch at Christmas

Posted on 5th September 2016 in adventure, nature

Tonight my mom said, “I really miss my mom.” When I get stuck inside of my head, responses like, “I do too,” become unnecessary to me, yet so very necessary for conversation and community, for family.

It’s hard to write that it’s not the same without my grandmother, it’s really not. Writing about it somehow still feels like I’m still inside of my head with no audience or empathy, yet still doesn’t come easy.

Last winter my mother and I went to the ranch as soon as she got out of classes, in early December. Mom helped her mom put up her Christmas tree, I brought firewood in to her box. In the relationship my grandmother and I had built, we spent a lot of our time reminiscing, looking through old photographs. When I asked her if I could have a used pencil and scissors of hers from 70 years ago she looked at me and laughed the way she always did when she couldn’t understand what I was up to. I think she got used to the idea that she was incredibly frugal or thrifty with some particular things; I think older generations get used to the idea that some of us young kids scoff at them for using the back of mail letters as scrap paper, how silly we sometimes are. I told her I used the old tools for photographs with my poems, and showed her my book of poems I had written with my old gothic script and pressed flowers glued into it.

Omi pressed flowers too, so does my mom. I was recently reading Hermann Hesse’s Autobiographical Writings that I had taken from her, and I’d come to pages with stamps or flowers pressed inside. Sometimes I find little notes, scraps of paper..

Winter can get cold up there at the Ranch. I can only imagine how modern technology has made it at least somewhat bearable. I can’t imagine using an outhouse in -30 deg C, let alone what was used for toilet paper. Even with the cold, my grandmother was a firm believer in fresh air. Even just sitting and getting a few rays of sunshine on her face would make her feel like she had got her bit for the day.

She was always incredibly insistent on going for a walk, even in the bloody ice. I’d be slipping and sliding around and there she was, sure as she could be, with her spikes on her boots making her way about. She was a walker. I guess that’s where I got it.

 

Kamloops for Christmas Click here to read more.. »

My Family History Tour of Latvia, 2012

Posted on 4th March 2014 in adventure, architecture, explored, photojournalism

Latvia is a very special place in my heart, for many reasons.

One of those reasons is that my family has a very long history there. If you’re not familiar with Riga, I’ve made two posts on the architecture there (Part I & Part II). Riga is a very beautiful old city in an old country, with a lot of amazing history over the centuries, and a lot of very sad history too.

My family had estates scattered around Latvia that were lost sometime around the Russian Revolution(s) ~1917. For so long Latvia was behind the Russian Iron Curtain, but within the last 10-20 years everything has changed making it accessible to us foreigners. While I was there I rented a car and tried to visit as many of the old family estates as I possibly could.

I received such beautiful hospitality when I was there in 2012 from a few people who made my family history tour possible: Gerda Berzina, Imants Lancmanis, & Ojars Sparitis, who all went out of their way to extend their services to me. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities they presented to me, and in fact I’m a little ashamed it took me so long to write this post as a token of my gratitude.

If you’re interested in seeing a map with pins (markers) where I visited, head to my family genealogy site, tobyns.com,where I’ve made an interactive map.

My trip went from Riga -> Schleck -> Edwalen -> Pope -> Ugale -> Riga on day 1. On day 2 I went to Mežotne -> Rundāle -> Elley -> Vilce -> Jelgeva -> Riga.

This is what I saw.

Schleck Church (lv. Zlekas)

Schleck Church (lv. Zlekas)

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Winter in Prince George, BC, Canada

Posted on 12th May 2013 in adventure, nature

I’ve been hiding in Prince George, Northern British Columbia’s capital, all winter. Needless to say, we get snow and lots of it. Having the dog, Angus, with me here, I’ve enjoyed going for long walks daily with the dog. It’s nice now that the snow is gone, as it makes walking easier and less clothing required, but walking in the snow is also a beautiful thing.

2013.02.25 - Prince George Trails Click here to read more.. »

Heffley Creek, BC, Canada

Posted on 3rd April 2013 in adventure, nature

I have spent a lot of my lifetime in and around Heffley Creek, BC, Canada. My mother grew up there, and I’ve many cousins, aunties, uncles, and a grandmother there. It’s one of those places that is easy to drive through and not pay any attention to since I’ve been through there so many times. It’s also one of those places that has changed so much since I was young.

In the middle of the winter of 2012, in December, I drove through there on my way North, and found myself upon a day of such bright blue and fresh snow that I had to photograph it extensively. No, I never got stuck once.

Looking at the photos, I realize that only the first image is on the edge of Heffley Creek, the rest are on the road up to Sun Peaks, and then the Knouff Lake Rd and Vinsulla Knouff Lake Rd, if that means anything to you…

2012.12.14 - Heffley Creek (3 of 123) Click here to read more.. »

Smithers: Up High Along the Alpine Level

Posted on 8th July 2012 in adventure, nature

Last Christmas I did a trip with my brothers out to Smithers for a weekend of snowboarding with my good buddy Neil. The boarding was killer, the weather couldn’t have been better (nice and cold, just the way we like our snowboarding/beer), and the skies were also beautiful.

It’s always a fight for me when I go up a hill. I do pretty intense snowboarding, so taking my big camera is, I guess, out of the question. However, if you know me, I’m almost always carrying a camera with me, so I had my Canon SX210 with me which is in itself a pretty amazing camera, in spite being a point and shoot.

So, this is what we saw from our boards.

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