Tanker

A tanker sits at anchor in front  of Gabriola Island on a March morning. Some don’t appreciate them here, sometimes there have been several waiting here to get into Vancouver. I don’t mind them. It adds some interest to the sea scape. We can hear and even feel them drop their anchors in the channel. There will be this deep rumbling / scrapping sound and sometimes a little boom when it hits the sea bed.

Bob though is a bit sensitive to the sound of their generators running, a low hum, especially at night.

Unfortunately I don’t hear it – or it doesn’t disturb me enough.

“Can’t you hear that? What you mean you can’t hear that? !”

“No. Can’t.”

 

The big Ice of 2017

Our little far western corner of North America has alway been mecca for vast populations of eastern Canadians ever since the West was settled and word got back that no one out here owns a snow shovel. True, there have been exceptions throughout the years that we get a surprise dump that shuts down the city of Vancouver, or over on the island may give the kids a few Snow Days.

Bob who was born in Ontario smirks at these times. We don’t know snow he says. Because our dumps, er, snowfalls might bring 4-5″ at most and even this will hobble us for a bit. We don’t have a big budget here for snow removal, sanding trucks, salt stockpiles. We also don’t drive in it very well in it.

This can be a tragic event. I’ve seen cars approach a stop sign like it was an afternoon in the middle of July. Oh yeah, palm-to-face, there’s white stuff under my tires; you can literally read the realization on their face as they pirouette through the intersection.

Busses don’t fare any better.

This year Vancouver got hit with a few good winter storms that brought a fair amount of snow for them. Then it would warm a bit and rain, then freeze again and snow. It got messy for the residents. No one could make it down the road without serious injury it seemed, people careening and slipping everywhere. The city used 5,000 of its 6,000 tons of its annual allotment of salt.

Cue the beleaguered store clerks as they brace themselves for a sudden frantic run on all the hardware stores and Home Depots for bags of salt and those elusive snow shovels. Sorry, they say, we’re out of stock we have more coming in on Friday. They tell you this on a Sunday with a lopsided shrug and a twitching eye.

Meanwhile across the pond here on the big island we didn’t have the full extent of that. For the most of any winter here we generally bask in greenery, but this year we did get damn cold though and things froze hard along with some snow. We had temperatures well below freezing for weeks at a time. The upside was all the dry, clear, crisp sunshiny days that came with the big chill.

It was so cold the sea around my tiny island and half way across the harbor froze.

Luckily for us we have an aluminum boat which makes it easy to break the ice, which we did around a good area of the anchorage and docks in an attempt to help others that have smaller boats and are under-powered to break away through the ice from their moorages. Also for those living on their sailboats in the harbor who become ice-locked and unable to use their dinghies to get to town. So we made our way around slowly and chewed up the bay a bit.

Protection Island 01/2017

While scooting around the sailboats anchored in the bay near Newcastle Island we noticed a woman who was in a kayak working her way from town, where there wasn’t ice and I don’t know if she knew how much ice there was out near the middle of the bay when she started out, she  gained enlightenment too late as she sat perched upon a massive ice sheet. Make way, us to the rescue. We freed her then crunched ahead of her breaking a chunky swath for her to paddle through to get home.

The crew for the wee ferry had to work hard to break ice, just as iced in as everyone else, they had to cancel the early runs. Once they could get under way the harbor Search and Rescue boat appeared and continued to break ice for them well into the middle of the bay where the ice ended before heading off to see where else they could be of service.

So that’s our big ice saga, created a small community burble around here. Today the weather warmed a bit, the sea is once again fluid and things are as they normally are in January: grey, drizzly, and cold. A few degrees above freezing. But I have to be honest, I loved the past few weeks of brilliant sun and piercingly clear days and nights, and secretly hope we get a bit more of it in the following months. January especially can be such a long dreary grey month otherwise. I’d rather have sparkle.

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Novembers last day, a stroll through the park

There is only a narrow watery gap that flows between my island home and an 800 acre island Provincial Park which come autumn is virtually uninhabited. The campers have all gone, the boaters have secured their vessels in the marinas for another year. The only access is by water and although our little ferry will bring you from town to the Park for a fee, few people take the time. It amazes me that few people even know about it,  local residents of Vancouver Island included.

So this time of year, it’s all mine to wander.

This park is rich in history with the Coast Salish or Snuneymuxw First Nation, being a place where they came to mend the heart when in mourning, collect medicinal herbs and fish herring.

A good life, before us. Before it was ripped apart for coal and stone, and before CPR ships brought floods of elites to dance in the pavilion.

The park has, since a few years ago, been returned to the First Nation, under their rightful stewardship.

It’s mending its heart.

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A Ferry Tale

Since our island passenger ferry started up here about 28 years ago a lot of people have chosen to make this little rock their home. It means that they could now live in this park like neighborhood without having to own and run their own boat.

They wouldn’t have to encase themselves in rain gear over their nice clothes during the wet winter months. It means they wouldn’t have to wear gum boots while carrying their “good” shoes in a knapsack to change into later. It means their hair would look the same as when they left their house.

It is convenient and reliable. Although if it it’s really bad weather it may sit out a few runs.

But installing some kind of shuttle to the island was always inevitable. More and more people moved on permanently, it was close to town, it was affordable where renting or real estate was concerned, it would certainly develop and grow.

The first attempt for a passenger ferry was 35 years ago by a property owner named Don. But it was hit and miss.

The story went something like this:

A group of residents would be waiting at the dock to return back to the island from town. Waiting. Waiting. Still waiting.

Al: Where is Don? Its been half hour.

Mike: Bet he’s in the pub, I’ll go check.

20 minutes go by…

Larry: I’ll go get Mike and Don

20 minutes go by…

You get the drift. Eventually they all end up at the pub until Don decided he was ready to go.

During the 50’s there was a much smaller seasonal population here, summer vacationers. They came in canoes, row boats or power boats of their own, staying in tiny cabins along the Lee Shore of the island just across the gap from the huge provincial park of Newcastle Island.

It was a rustic place then. A far cry from that now since opting out of the Island Trust and becoming part of the city and hooking into sewer and water, forgoing our wells and septic fields.

And especially after Bob and Hilda moved over and built the pub and Bistro here 28 years ago along with its ferry service to carry their customers over, benefitting the residents in the process. The boats they brought in, 3 of them, are retired B.C. Ferry life boats. They’ve had a few augmentations done and carry up to 29 people safely and comfortably warm and dry.

When my kids were school age they took the ferry each day at designated “School Run” times which meant the kids rode free of charge. The ferry was given a subsidy by the school board to bring all the island kids in to town where a school bus would be waiting to pick them up, so that worked well.

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There are occasions during peak times of the day all year through that this little boat is full to capacity; in the mornings with residents going to work, and after work around 5:00. In the summer sometimes folks might have to wait for the next boat if the pub is really busy, which it is all summer long. But they are quick to send a second boat, so everybody eventually gets to where they need to get to. The key is to relax and not be in such a hurry.

I used to ride the ferry more often than I do now, back when I had an open boat and opted for warm and dry instead of cold and drenched. I used to know the ferry drivers well. I had worked at the pub for a couple of seasons as a line cook, bracing for those “double boat runs” full of customers that would pack the bistro for another busy summer night.

Now when I do ride there are more residents I don’t know that have moved onto the island.

Once not long ago when I took the ferry home and I had a few bags of groceries one of the passengers offered me a ride in his golf car. We introduced ourselves. He said he lived next door to James. I said “Oh yeah, just around the corner from my house”.

He said, “so you know James?” An infamous resident who has lived here for 37 years.

I said, “yeah, I’ve known him for 25 years.”

“You’ve been here 25 years?! Part time?” He was surprised that he’d never seen me before.

“No”, I said, “Year round. My husband has been here 38 . How long have you’ve been here?”

“Five,” he says.

The island is 1-1/2 miles long and 1 mile wide. And yet it hides people well. That’s also the beauty of this place. You can keep to yourself – be a hermit, or jump into the community and engage.

Yet while having my own boat is part of the allure of living here, part of that self-reliant and independent nature belonging to many individuals who take on the task of living a slightly distinctive lifestyle here, there may come a day when I’m really old and not capable of using my boat any longer.  Then I’ll buy my monthly ferry pass and look forward to communing with my neighbors both new and long known while plying the waters that set this “moated suburb” apart from the rest.

It’s all good in the hood.

I love my little community ~ 🙂

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Kootenay Time

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I’m presently in Kimberly spending time with my daughter, having taken the opportunity to go along with Bob to where he will be working for the next 10 days in Cranbrook, 30 minutes away. We chose to travel from Vancouver taking the more serpentine route of Highway 3, better known as the The Crowsnest Pass instead of the big wide Coquihalla and stay a night in Nelson on the way to Kimberly, well it was a little out of the way but in the general area all the same!

When I was a single mom I almost moved myself and daughter to Nelson in 1986 when hearing of affordable rents for big character houses in an artistically vibrant community, but was then also put off by reports that the town was so surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains that even summer daylight hours were short-lived.

I should have checked it out myself at that time. Yes, the mountains are there but on the town side they slope low and away and while being established on a wide western arm of Kootenay Lake created a charming and rather open valley. Walking its downtown streets I felt an attractive urban pulse akin to my Islands’ capitol Victoria.

Baker Street is the main drag of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, a village of approximately 9,700 nestled in the Selkirk Mountains. The area offers scenic drives, hot springs, mountain bike trails and quirky shops, galleries and restaurants. The 1987 movie "Roxanne" was filmed here. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Baker Street is the main drag of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, a village of approximately 9,700 nestled in the Selkirk Mountains. The area offers scenic drives, hot springs, mountain bike trails and quirky shops, galleries and restaurants. The 1987 movie “Roxanne” was filmed here. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times/MCT) Photo courtesy of internet

I kinda loved it. Of course my daughter does too after visiting herself. ‘We could’ve lived here mom!’

In the evening, we got in to Nelson late around 8:00, we searched for dinner and decided on the Rel- ish Bistro on Baker Street, it was De-lish. Tenderloin for Bob and Butternut Ravioli for me. We left amply stuffed and contented. Next morning we walked around on the search for coffee and asking a passerby directed was directed to Oso Negro. Obviously a hot spot was bristling with patrons. Great coffee by the way. The cafe is surrounded too by a gorgeous garden and imaginative iron works.

I could live here.

After  breakfast we hit the road, crossing the bridge and drove up the coastline to catch the little Balfour Ferry ( the bigger one was being serviced) that would take us 30 minutes to cross over to Kootenay Bay, followed by a 3 hour drive into Kimberley. On a side note, we snidely chuckled when riding across the water saying how we’ve come a little out of our way (which it was) en route to Kimberley just to be able to ride a BC ferry for free, the only one in the fleet. We quietly rejoiced.

Kootenay Lake is massive, felt as though I was back among the gulf islands, and gorgeous. The remainder of the drive once reaching Kootenay Bay and driving down through Creston was bucolic. Stunning country continued all the way to Kimberly.

Kootenay Lake, BC

 

Kootenay Lake BC

 

D.K.Brint
Dinner at Re-LIsh Bistro, Nelson BC

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Oso Negro, Nelson BC

 

 

BFF- Or Big Friend Failure

 

Image courtesy of internet
Image courtesy of internet

So, whats 30 odd years between friends?

She and I go back to grade 10, just after I moved up from California. We fell in love with the same boy, whom she won, and we shared deep conversations over a plate of fries, coffee and Craven M cigarettes when cutting classes in high school. We loved the same music and the love for writing. We both kept journals. She wrote beautiful poems and songs that she sang with her guitar. We would light candles in her room and delve into the meaning of relationships, spirituality, parents, and becoming women. Oh the drama.

We were like sisters. We were best friends.

But I lost her after high school. I say I lost her because I don’t remember her leaving grade 12 earlier than the rest of us and moving to Manitoba to attend University. I wasn’t paying attention, she left my life and I didn’t blink.

Which leaves me to think what kind of friend was I?

I bumped into her about 8 years later when she moved back to Vancouver Island, she was married and pregnant and I already had a 5 year old and was a single parent. I was awkward – both of us were, but nothing came of it- although we were happy to see each other no plans were made to get together.

After several more years passed I began to think of her, wanted to see if I could find her again but because of my lame inattention I couldn’t remember her married last name. So I searched FB using her maiden name – maybe she kept it- but nothing appeared. I searched our common FB friends from high school to see if she came up, not there either.

Fly ahead to 2015 I am sitting in my hairdressers chair while my color is processing, I am looking through my FB and the list of “people you may know” came up which I lazily scrolled through and suddenly there she was. I “friended” her immediately and anxiously awaited her response.

We were so happy to reconnect!

Finally able to exchange phone numbers and talking with her I discovered she had been working for the past 8 years a mere 3 blocks away from the waterfront harbour I crossed each day but lived south island, driving the 40 minutes. I drove to work too so that maybe explains us missing each other.

Well.  But how were we to know? She had lost track of me too.

So close but so far. She had been on FB for a year but kept a very low profile, not reaching out to our mutual high school friends until 2015. She didn’t know my married name either.

We’ve  gotten together 4 times since for lunch and each time we slip back to essentially where we left off. From the time we parted. Bringing each other up through the missing years. That boy she loved in grade 10 nearly evolved to marriage after high school but   ended badly, I had no idea.

And the thought that wouldn’t lie still was  “I wasn’t there for you.” Through your eventual marriage, childbirth, divorce, the loss of your parents whom I remember, all the heartbreaks, and all breakthroughs.

But then neither was she there for me. We lost out on so much by losing each other. This isn’t the first time I’ve let friendships from my past slip away, and sadly those can never resurface in my life again, finding out too late that illness took them.

That’s how much I suck at friendship. No, Sucked.

I want to be there now. And yes people change, but we found that we still have that common ground of the unconventional, the controversial, the deep big questions, now approached from a mature perspective and it’s fascinating.

So we engineer a bridge each time we meet, attentive to bringing to the table the necessary tools to construct a way to cross the rushing waters that have carved through our lives. To meet in the middle and maybe with the blessings of those two 16 year old girls walk a new road together now as women.

 

 

New Digs

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Making the decision on behalf of another that will directly affect them is not easy. This is an intersection I and my siblings have approached last year (and the year before) when we thought we had better initiate the call of finding a place for our mom to move into that would put her in closer proximity to us and where she can continue receiving care. Now it is come down to definite action. 

So. Here we are – two weeks after I initially began writing this post- and I’m very happy, and relieved, to say my mom has moved!

She is in a fantastic Assisted Living facility with her own private apartment with a patio, with the added advantage that she is also two blocks from my sister and her husband.

We had looked at Assisted Living Private Care versus Government Subsidized, we crunched numbers to a pulp to ensure that her finances would be sufficient to go with Private Care for the time being because this option would give her a one bedroom, one bathroom suite with kitchenette rather than the fully subsidized suite option of a studio suite- which is just a room with a bed and a bathroom.

We asked questions about enlisting a care aide to escort mom to and from the dining room due to her onset of dementia, and an aide to assist her in her morning and evening care and with her bathing -yes, yes, all her personal care can be arranged through the Health Authority Subsidy with that cost at $21.a day.

So this means mom pays a full rent for her own suite that includes all utilities and great meals in the dining room augmented with Government Subsidized Care for her personal needs.

– insert a sigh here –

We began all this in early February and this last two weeks has been nothing short of hectic and emotionally draining, which is why I haven’t had the gumption or time to write a post. Until 4:30 this morning.

Now it’s 6 am and feeling like I could sleep a bit, do I crawl back to bed for another hour or so? There is still so much to do in the next two weeks to prepare the townhome for listing, garage sales, to settle mom in and help her get accustomed to the new surroundings-will my mind be quite enough for me to sleep?

But my husband has come downstairs and begins to make coffee, and the birds are up too, singing to a rising sun~