Friday, July 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
We’re now less than a hundred clicks away from the Norwest Territories in remotest, buggiest BC. The temperatures range from clouded sky blue to windy chilly and our logging camp is pretty much floating on a bog. Unfortunately, Lizzie and I no longer live outside so we spend very little time in direct daylight or washing planter dishes as the sun rises and sets. Fortunately, we’re inside all day and thus can control the flow of mosquitos that can make their way in to our kitchen and dining hall. On the break between shifts we tried to take an evening walk after washing up the dishes, putting away the food, wiping the counterspace- an attempt to “get outisde” and “out of the kitchen.” We lasted about a giggling 15 minutes as the mosquitos completely swarmed us, the muddy road clung to our shoes and the dogs went nuts over the bear spotted a few hours before right outside camp. We deemed the evening beautiful and came back to the dining hall. The pines here are dark and thin and the daylight is ever persistent- once again the night sky has not yet graced my eyes. We managed to truck out to our location over a three hour bumpy, rutted road (feeling new appreciation for those pioneers in covered wagons- we ourselves could do very little to conquer the deep muddy patches that could easily have stuck us). Since the rain the way is now unnegotiable by truck and the helicopter is our mode of transport.
I now approach each day’s meal with no planning except for a scan around the fridge and freezer and a general sense of what their tastes might fancy. I’m in a somewhat tricky position of trying to stretch certain ingredients that need to last us until we’re flown out- like milk, eggs, melons, lettuce, mayonnaise- while also use up whatever won’t last or will be a huge pain to sling back. I rather guiltily keep asking Lizzie to half the eggs called for in her baking recipes and I myself am looking for new, unique ways to secretly employ potatoes. For the meals I try to strike a balance between a number of interesting options, while also having one big hearty, meaty meal for those men who like to feel that they’re getting their daily slab of meat and not being fed by a namby pampy “healthy” vegetarian. It’s often hard to know what’s worth the time and effort when they get excited by breaded asparagus but then are happy to get a very simple ground beef cheese pie. I’m quite wary of potential complaint or malcontent so I do try to have a well balanced meal out of some fear rather than the pure joy of mixing up interesting things. I realized that my sense of planter and my employer’s expectations was contributing largely to my anxiety and its taken me a lot of time for me to start believing that almost everyone was trully happy with my cooking, my food bills weren’t extraordinarily high, and I could relax. Lizzie has the fun of simply baking delicious things that people find delightful, but I feel responsible if we run out of something or if someone is unhappy with what I’m cooking. Fortunately, Lizzie has been tremendously supportive in reminding me of how well things are going and in talking through my worries that are more of my own making than real.
I feel so lucky to be out here with Lizzie and to be living and talking and working with someone who I not only can stand 24/7, but enjoy and like and appreiciate immensely. We approach kitchen and cleaning work very much as a team and the other picks up the slack on days when one person is slow or just tired, we have the emotional “how are you” conversations when drained and in my case even teary, we discuss past life worries and trials, share ideas, and laugh at ourselves, our grubbyness and even been able to laugh when all seems at its worst (cake sagging and cracking, meatballs still red in the middle (two hours in the oven already!), mess on the floor, grumpy planters and piles of dishes.) People are kind though and we’re regularly greated with something to the degree of “so how are my two favourite people?” (we DO give them food) and been brought music as well as speakers for my laptop computer. Every supportive word is not taken in vain when their happiness and like of the food is quite important to me yet the tasks that we do can seem ridiculously huge for two people.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Yesterday we finished our first contract out of Wonowon, British Columbia and are leaving in a couple hours for farthest north Fort Nelson where we’ll be helicoptered out to a logging camp and cook for another nine days. We worked for eleven days straight from 4 to 9 everyday, and last night the comfort of the motel was unbeatable as I slept until the long late hour of seven O’clock and relished the bed, close toilet, shower, and quiet away from the generator. Last night I trecked across the highway with my laptop tucked under my arm, wool socks to my knees, and hot water and milk in hand and the sky was glimmering late night blue as the thin clouds stretched in late night sun above the trees that lined the Alaska highway. When the internet failed in our convience store/café that IS the town of Wonowon a few of us sat and drank a glass of wine in the pitstop that was our night’s perminance. Our camp was set up in a horse race ring so the fences and broken bleachers lent a cowboy-esque air to our days. When we woke in the mornings we’d trip out of our tent to gorgeous brilliant morning skies; the longest day of the year is today at 18 some hours which means that the light from the set sun lingers much longer in both morning and night.
I resent breakfast making because the fare involves many meaty options from sausage and bacon and eggs that mean I hover over heat and grease when I tend to be tired and hungry and grumpy to begin with. But I pull through and once Lizzie and I have cleaned up the kitchen for the morning, we sit outside with our own breakfast and chat and plan and laze for our half an hour that is our least rushed time of the day. In recent days I’ve been having more fun trying recipes and dinner meals that are much more in the style of my own creations and less standard camp fare and everyones happier because of it. I made a breaded cheese and jam block which was garnished with picked asparagus and pickles, along side four types of bean dips and three different kinds of salad (this was the accompaionment to the main taco bar selection for those meaty men.) My shepherds pie was a great success and my only regret in reflection is that I don’t remember how I made it.
I miss being out of touch with many of you when I have the hours to be actively missing, but the days are very full and Lizzie and are very happy despite our business and find the planters endearing and our foreman Guy very kind. We’ve had broken water pipes, broken generator (no power) and gasless stoves in some new mix every day.