Back home

I’ve been home for two weeks now after spending the month of May in Kimberley visiting my daughter while Bob was working in the area, and I’ve been so busy I haven’t put time aside to post. Upon our return we were greeted with a lawn of very tall grass, and because it was already the end of May we had to get busy buying seeds and vegetable starts and flowers, getting the vegetable gardens planted, putting flower baskets together, mowing and weeding.

We did have a little parcel we discovered in our hedge while weeding, a nest of twelve quail eggs. The mother must’ve been out feeding when we saw the pale and brown speckled eggs nestled in the tall grass. When I checked them the next day I thought they were gone, that a raccoon had gotten to them, but then I looked again I could then notice the excellent camouflage of the male parent spread out over the nest.

I also needed to get up to see my Mom for some serious breakout time; I take her out about three times a week, taking her for lunch, drives, and walks down at the beach front. Although my sister got her out on the weekends while I was away, mom was getting a bit of cabin fever being cloistered during the weeks.

Yesterday Bob and I worked hard in pulling up a massive bamboo type ground cover that had gotten away on us and was encroaching on the veg garden area, and today- I’m beat! Coupled with staying up too late last night to try to watch Saturday Night Live and then waking at 6 this morning, I can never sleep in no matter how late I go to bed! I feel like a wet rag today~

So after doing a bit of raking I’ve surrendered to the remainder of the day to give it a rest. Find a comfy spot in the sun maybe and read. I do need a trip to the library, having finished Paradise by Toni Morrison while in Kimberley, I’ll see what I can re-read from my own library ~

All along the waterfront

I craved some sun so I went to town. My island neighborhood is so heavily treed that much of the road is shady this time of year. There are spots to sit in the sun but not so much for a long walk in the sun. For that I needed to go across the water to town where the entire waterfront bathes in light. And fortunately there is a splendid walkway that hugs the shoreline for about 2 miles. All totaled I clocked my 10,000 steps easily, and a sufficient dose of good ultra violet therapy. Skin damage be damned.

When I look at this view of my little island and Newcastle Park from town I know I must live in one of the best little corners of Canada by far.

In truth it has taken me some time to have real affection for my town even though I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in my 59 years; went to college here, had my daughter here, met and married my husband here, built a home.

But there is nothing not to love about Nanaimo, although it took years of desperate struggle, it has blossomed over the years and it’s harbor front is its winning card hands down. It’s a bit urban, some quaintness, great concerts, and celebrations, and what city can boast an 800 acre island park right in its harbor accessible only by boat?

Oh, a note about the Photo of the pirate at the top. That is our late, great (hmmm.) pirate Mayor Frank Ney. Black Frank, immortalized in bronze. He held the office of Mayor for 21 years and was also a developer. He was the guy to subdivide my little island, shown behind him, and responsible, among other very important things, of naming many of the city’s streets; Dingle Bingle hill, Twiggly-wiggly Road, Buttertubs, and Berger-Op-Zoom. My island didn’t escape unique naming, we received his Piratey legacy with Captain Kids Terrace, Pirates Lane, Treasure Trail, Captain Morgans. It’s said he’d delegate the business of street naming to his young children. He had eleven, so.

Colorful man our Frank.

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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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Reflection

fullsizeoutput_1757So we soon close another year. It has been one hell of a time, and I wish that meant it had been so great, but this isn’t the case. There feels to be a shredded wake stretching out behind me.

Seeing 2016 close means leaving the year that I was last in the company of my brother, the year I was with him, talking to him, spending time with him, before dying of cancer. He won’t be in this new year.

It has been a year rife with friends passing in early mid-life from cancers, a co-worker who died in her sleep with what was thought to be a simple virus, another young chef co-worker suffering a coronary, spending a month in a coma and now re-learning how to make toast. His memory of his small children nearly wiped out. Another musician friend struck with the same type of attack while working in Edinburgh.

It was a year of watching and being with my mom in the hospital for three months go through some terrible heart wrenching episodes, of moving her out of her own place of independence, then moving her twice more and finally into a full care facility.

Then the seemingly endless string of beloved celebrities that left us.

I seem to recall a feeling of trepidation on the threshold of 2016, something ominous about to happen. It seems my premonitions were correct. As a final salty rub in the wound, the looming political horizon.

I am not a doomsday, pessimistic personality. I don’t look for tragedy or drama. Yet there is no mistake the reality of the last 12 months. These events happened and it was painful. And I have no desire to gloss over. To see the cheery side. It was a dark year.

So I am reflecting, which is what we do at this time, but not without also offering gratitude. And I do. But I can’t yet put into words what for.

For witnessing the strength of the spirit in all who were struck down and in those left standing whose hearts were pierced? For presence? Yes I think so, I think that comes close. Maybe sometimes presence is enough. Mind-full presence.

So I am embracing the hardship of 2016 as a mother tightly holds a fitful angry child until the fight leaves him. Then releasing with unconditional love and hope for a brilliant new sunrise.

 

 

 

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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Placement

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Leaving for the interior of BC for 2 weeks with Bob on one of his work related trips so I can visit my daughter in Kimberly meant leaving my mom in the hospital where she has spent the last 8 weeks. It meant that as she was being assessed for Extended Care and put “On the List” that there could be changes happening while I was away, that when I returned possibly she will have been moved into a Facility, and will need to brace for that emotional impact.

Mom had gone into the hospital 8 weeks ago because her pulse was racing and erratic and blood pressure was very high (we keep a BP device at her place) so my sister had called the ambulance. They got these under control after a few days and then the plan was to get her back home after she gets her strength back.

She was doing well, moving from the “Hospital” ward down to “Transitions,” a place in the hospital where they prepare you to go home, or to a “Home” if your condition changes. All was proceeding well towards mom returning to her apartment we had just moved her into in March.

Then things began to change.

The last three weeks or so she had been weaving stories about her life, a new thing she had begun to do, all pleasant but we knew them to be fantasies, like being a teacher for two years or planting the whole garden that graced the hospital courtyard we spent the sunny afternoons in. She lately began to say she was hired to look after the hospital floor she was staying on. We would tell her that she’s retired now and doesn’t have to work anymore, but she felt under obligation somehow, and we knew better than try and convince her otherwise. She would come back to “reality” and then chuckle over what she had just fantasied.

Regardless of what narrative she was outlining for herself over the previous weeks she was always cheery,  laughed, and could easily be humored. She always went with the flow.

But because of this new fantasy behavior they felt she needed to be reassessed for Complex Care and give up her Assisted Living apartment. We had to agree, so she was put on The List. Because Private Complex care is financially out of reach for her, upwards of $6,000  a month, we would have to wait for an available subsidized bed in a facility- hopefully in our town.

I should clarify that what having subsidized extended care means in Canada is that the government withdraws 80% of ones monthly income, whatever amount that may be, for the Care Facility and its amenities and that you are also bound to accepting the first bed offered – no matter where it is in a 40 kilometer radius. If the found bed is not accepted the elder is put back at the bottom of the wait list and must be re accessed again, the whole procedure taking many weeks to months. But once in a subsidized bed we do have a choice then, but only after two months in the found facility and if one is unhappy with it, to then pick another bed in the desired facility and wait until it comes available.

But that first found bed must be taken to qualify.

While I’m in Kimberley my sister was notified that a 4 bed ward room had been found in our town for mom, and my sister went to see it. Her heart sank when she saw the conditions, and asked if there could at least be a two bed room for her instead, they got back to her a few days later and said they had one.

This was better news and my sister prepared to move mom in, having 48 hours to do this-as per regulation, but sudden behavioral changes that seemed to possess my mom have been nothing short of Jekyll and Hyde. So dark, so fast. Two weeks ago Bob and I visited her the day before our departure and we walked (strolled) around the grounds had some ice cream and left her after a few hours smiling and calm.

 

And because of this new change in mom we had to forfeit the chosen bed as they have now decided she now needs to be re-evaluated, re-assessed for a placement for Aggressive Residents. I know dementia can progress alarmingly, but this was so sudden.  3 weeks ago she was pleasant, co-operative, and social. Her usual self.

I remain suspect of perhaps medications that were conflicting or wanting to blame the other two women who are fully in Alzheimer condition that shared moms room who were always devious and manipulative and at times aggressive, or even an UTI ( urinary tract infection). I still have a difficult time hearing about and accepting my moms condition.

Thinking that not much would transpire in a 2 week absence, that we would still just be waiting for a bed, turns out I had left town during the most emotionally trying time. My sister keeping me informed via texts and phone calls and shouldering the weight of the turmoil, my brothers helping her where they could, and me fretting on the other end. Mom has now been moved into a private room and will stay in the hospital until they can stabilize her behavior and until another placement can be found.

Bob and I will be home in a few days, and although I have tried to stay focused and enjoy the time with my daughter and all the activities we’ve done, I’ve been mentally preparing myself for a return to a changed parent, and the following stages of a long goodbye~

 

 

 

 

Being There

Sunset over Vancouver Isalnd 2016 D.K Brint
Sunset over Vancouver Isalnd 2016 D.K Brint

If you’re not up on the current stream of my life a large part of it is involved in the care for my 90-year-old mother who presently is in the hospital because of strong chest pains, blood pressure and pulse through the roof. Five days in now and those vitals have leveled out, so good.

10 years ago I never would have thought that caring for an elderly parent would be so all-consuming. 5 years ago I got a clearer picture.

Always thinking of her well-being, is she depressed and sad, does she seem more confused, the ongoing aches and pains and how to alleviate them, finding a suitable residence, the adjustment and settling (or not) in, will she ever feel comfortable in her new place, is she sleeping through the night and if not is she safe, taking care of her finances and ensuring she can live where we have moved her, how are the nursing staff doing with her, is everything getting done, getting to appointments with the doctor, making sure she is getting enough physical exercise, it goes on.

And because I have a tremendously involved sister it is a shared responsibility which is a good thing.

There is little room it seems for anything else.  My husband is working hard too and soon will be away for work for a period of time, and making space for us has been a struggle at times. He has been so supportive and understanding and accompanies me when he can when I do go to mom’s; he enjoys her and loves to see her, but also confesses that if he wants to spend time with me he needs to come along.

I am not complaining, I need to write it out. And it’s my life right now. I do try to fit in some quiet personal time where I can find it – I recognize better now when I’m reaching saturation point, and take steps to defuse.

And I know this sounds corny and high horse but I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

 

The Need to Vacate the Premises

A day in the sun

On Saturday my sister, her husband and I planned to go kayaking, they have their own and I would rent one, so Saturday morning I called the outlet only to be answered with a recorded message that they are closed for the season.

-C’mon, it’s April already! Didn’t expect that.

I was really looking forward to this, I needed this! A mini adventure, a break from my modus operandi but now that activity dashed I found myself at home with the choice of how I should spend my day, which ironically left me with indecision.

I had been ready for a great day of paddling. It was like being ready to pop a piece of white chocolate in your mouth but it’s white cheddar, tasty yes, but startling to your taste buds. So I’m eating white cheddar.

I wanted to be outside in this gorgeous sunny day, but thought I should maybe spend time at home while I have the chance since I’ve been in constant motion lately, so ok I can immerse myself into my current read in the back yard, find a patch of sun in my predominately shady yard and tuck in. Good.

Not good. My next door neighbor has fired up his chainsaw. So back in. Pace around a bit, thinking.

Hmmm, I guess I could wash the windows, or wash the pollen off the deck or work in the yard, but I really didn’t want to do anything like work today – wait, he’s stopped- alright, step outside- uh, nope, on again. This in an’ out went on a few more times until I decided leaving was the more sane alternative. My husband took the car to work yes, but I had the boat and fortunate to have a big provincial park, which is also an island, right next to me -this is where I would find my peaceful escape.

And I did. I got lots of sunshine and luscious uninterrupted reading time with a tremendous view of the water. To get out and away was just what was needed. Most times it’s the only way to ensure that getting sucked into doing obligatory tasks doesn’t overtake ones need for R&R.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~

If we were having coffee (#Weekend Coffee Share)

If we were having coffee you too would have stopped mid-sip and we would lock eyes because we just heard that today is National Sword Swallowing Day as was just announced on the CBC radio program I am listening to this morning.

Apparently it’s a tradition on the wane.

Well, who knew.

So anyway, today I will be jumping in my boat and heading to town soon to my mom’s place up island. She will be meeting with the people who will be moving her to her new sweet suite in the next few days. Can I get a Hallelujah?

This service is supplied by the Assisted Living Village and once the move date is set the action begins. They pack and unpack, AND hang all art work etc. all in one day- and that is fantastic.

The move is a big transition for all concerned, of course, but will have so many benefits for all concerned too, finally having her in our neck of the woods. No more long drives up and back.

Mom and Bob 2016

Seems many my age have stories of “moving a parent.” I see and hear them everywhere. Stands to reason, there are sooo many Boomers out there doing exactly what I’m doing right at this time too.  A zeitgeist perhaps?

It’s the opposite end of the spectrum of a young parent meeting other young parents with small children. Kind of. You share experiences good and bad and talk of challenges rife with concerns, worries, and conflicts.

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SO I’ll let you go cause it is the weekend and I know you have a lot to do, getting outside to make the most of this (almost) spring day. Here on the West coast we have some sun and the birds have come back from winter, a welcome sound!

Enjoy your day~ 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

One of Those days

Moe napping 2014
Moe napping 2014

I had accomplished one hour of yoga, made some business phone calls, made some chocolate cupcakes, and checked the mail. And that’s it.

By the late afternoon I made some popcorn, plunked down on the sofa and turned on the TV. Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind was on and I settled in to watch- what’s got to be the 50th time over the years. So corny I know, the acting is laughable, but because I am one of those who watch a night sky in hopes of seeing ET, I get hooked in again and enjoy the ride. I Give myself permission today to indulge in being a couch potato.

It’s a down day. Not in mood but in activity. The rain is coming down, I have the house to myself and I’m reveling in my own company.

And oh what luck, on next is Young Frankenstein, one of my favourite movies with Gene Wilder, next to Blazing Saddles – Cloris Leachman – Love her Frau Blucher (cue neighing horses). Both of those movies I have also seen a gazillion times and can be heard speaking the dialogue along with the actors- annoying, but I’m here by myself so… excuse me now, Frodrick and Frankenstein are singing Puttin’ on the Ritz –

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

Lifted

12744234_10153783486180733_3552159732958383054_nJust polishing the family silver Daahhlink.

My husband brought these pieces home a few years ago after his parents passed away. Heavily tarnished and dark I put them away up in a cupboard and forgot about them.

Then one day I pulled them out thinking we might as well use the sugar bowl at least- you know what they say, don’t save the good china for only special occasions- silver in my case, you may die with regret otherwise.

I took out a cleaning solution I had under the kitchen sink and began rubbing the surface and it brightened beautifully. I came around the other side of the bowl and realized there was an inscription there so faint under the tarnish. I scrubbed to reveal the following, “Groot Hotel Berg en Dal.”

Intriguing.

I went to the computer and began searching for this place and literally spent the entire afternoon trying to find any information on this Hotel. All the articles were not in English which didn’t help. Eventually I did find a photo on Ebay, and discovered that it was in the Netherlands. Bob seemed to think, from stories his dad told, that this might have been the place where the service men were sent for time off from the fight; a place to relax and rest up before going back to the front again, but reading up on a few mere scant articles that were in English written by war vets recounting their times, this Hotel seemed to be in the area that was in the thick of the fighting. So either my father-in-law was there and swept through the hotel and took a souvenir or someone else did and gave it to him later.

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So as I again just recently gave these pieces a spruce up with a rag and cleaner I thought I’d share their story. I then also found when I turned them over to see if in fact they were silver, I discovered they are not. They are a good quality silver plate.

The company B.Bohrmann was founded in 1871 and according to the article I found the numbers on the right is the year it was made, the numbers on the left are unknown. So I can ascertain that the sugar bowl and creamer are from 1906.

So that’s the great story of our family silver (plate)!

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Fallen Angel

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I looked out the window to my backyard and noticed my Garden Angel had become liberated from the fence she hung upon.

To hell with it, she might have said, I just have to smell that lavender bush.

I totally empathize.

My new Chill

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Thought I’d share the arrival of the new appliance. Exciting I know.

This is one mode of transport by which many of the islands’ things come to us. They have a truck and boat trailer on the main island too and are able to take the skiff to any place to load directly, then simply launch and pull out on our island. And visa versa. Anything bigger than what the skiff can manage is brought over by barge- a large barge.

These guys are the bomb. Every other week they come around and do a garbage and recyclables collection for a small fee. Each spring they organize a Garden Run, bringing everything from fencing, manure, topsoil and potting mix, to what have you. Just put your request in and they’ll get it to your yard.

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Up the access-

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Up the slippery slope-

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Up the steps-

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And in. After the 2 hours it took flipping the door so it opens to the right, peppered with expletives of course,(Guy at Home Depot said, Oh yeah factory takes 10 minutes, you maybe 20, it’s easy!), I whipped up a pizza (I had dough I previously made, so no biggy) and Bob and I cracked some champagne and waited for the fridge to come to temp before I moved everything from the coolers we had outside.

And that’s how we do it. 🙂

 

Appliance meltdown

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A quiet Monday night was interrupted by a weird noise coming from the kitchen. Bob got up to check, came back saying he didn’t see anything. 20 minutes later again the noise, I went to see and found light smoke coming from what I thought was the basement but as I approached I could see it was coming from behind the fridge.

I called out and we pushed the fridge away from the wall and unplugged it. Yikes.

We pulled off the lower panel to have a closer look and found that a LOT of dust bunnies set up camp in there, so the intake fan probably wasn’t able to perform well. That and the fridge is 15 years on. I vacuumed it out and we let things cool down then we plugged it back in to see how it goes. Seemed good. Just needed a vacuuming. We returned to our cozy couch.

Then the noise, we jumped up to see a thin plume of black smoke, so not good.

Thus was the demise of the ice box. Luckily we have several coolers to employ while we wait for our new fridge this weekend.

Luckily this didn’t happen last weekend when we were away for the night.

Domicile Love

Cleaning ones abode is a fact of life. Whether you actually do it is your own issue, but eventually you’ll have to dig yourself out of the laundry pile. Personally I approach housework as ‘House Love’. Corny,  yes- but to give a little attention to the place that shelters you is meaningful, no?

Except this.

cleaning racks

This is my absolute least favourite domestic duty. Cleaning my oven racks rank right up there with…- no they stand alone in that, yep.

 

It Takes a Village

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Because I live on a rock that I share with about 300 others, you get to know its people. Many I’ve known for over 20 years, others more recent. For me this is the longest duration in one community in my entire life – in California we moved several times: Garden Grove, Tustin, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, and this continued when we relocated to Vancouver Island.

Landing here on this tiny Gulf Island I remember saying to my new husband (that would be Bob) that I have no intention of leaving. Of course this was after experiencing the grunting work of loading cars and boats with my things and barging across the waters to off load, then reload onto a truck to the final destination of Bobs house. Then off load. I ain’t doing that again, I think is what I mumbled under my breath. Little did it sink in then that this in fact would be a constant way of life. Hauling things. But I’m good with it now.

So this is home and I am surrounded by people who know me. They know my children. Our story.

And I know some of theirs, when someone gets married, when there is a new baby, when someone falls on hard luck, the fundraiser events. But because I’ve been working so much out of the home for many years these events have been more on the periphery of my scope. Acknowledgement, appreciation, yes – but also a little taken for granted.

Until now. Living in this community the more I am awakened to the profundity of it, the depths it reaches into what it means to know your neighbour, to be a part of this tiny part of humanity.

She was a gardener, taking care of others’ plants and flowers, she and her partner working together on landscaping jobs for about 15 years here and she passed away. She was in her 50’s and died of Lung Cancer a few days ago. And when I mentioned this one evening to a friend how many neighbours have passed my friend said, It’s our age. She said, there were three people in my condo on my floor that had died within a few years of each other.

I thought about what she said, but it wasn’t the same.

It was then that I realized what it is I am a part of here.  At that moment I came to fully understand the connectedness that resides here, what it means to be a supportive community, to BE IN a community. I realized how far on the sidelines I have dwelled.

It was an epiphany.

Because when I see Anne I can remember her husband, and see Liz and remember her husband, and see Pat and remember her husband, and see Veronica and remember her husband,  and see Keith and remember his wife, and see Shannon and remember her daughter, and when I see Dan I can remember his partner. And because I can see my neighbours navigating catastrophic life changes and doing the wrenching work of carrying on, of salving wounds. Of finding a new normal everyday.

I have newfound respect and even a reverence that wasn’t so present before as a resident here. Of what Home means, and Connection.

 

 

 

 

Washing up

 My kitchen sink

When we renovated the kitchen several years back we decided not to install a dishwasher thinking there is just the two of us, how many dirty dishes could there be? Not well thought out when one of us is a chef. I can utilize A LOT of pots and pans and cutlery when putting a meal together, but in my defense, I am a clean cook, meaning I clean as I go so I keep a handle on the fall out.

And although I find myself periodically pining for a dishwasher I do find it relaxing washing by hand. Sometimes. When I was younger living at home this was when I sang – over a hot soapy  sink, alone in the kitchen with good acoustics. Other times it seems as though my hands are constantly in the sink.

My hands, when I look at them I think of a commercial when I was a kid. It promoted a particular dish soap claiming you wouldn’t be able to tell who was the daughter and who was the mother by just looking at their hands. If my hands today were put up they would have no trouble guessing who was the mother; I’d win, hands down. I never wear gloves, my hands are in and out of water constantly when in the kitchen,  I should take out stock shares in Aveeno moisturizer.

But it’s all good; Bob washes up after dinner often, or in the morning before I get up – and to be honest washing up by hand is a meditative act. Hot water, fragrant soft bubbles and the slow action of rubbing a dishcloth around and around a plate gives you time to think – or sing.

 

 

 

Freeze up

Protection ice floe

This is rather a rare occurrence for us west coasters to have our bay iced over for nearly 3 days, but there have been tales told that in the far past people have ice skated out to this little island.

The above photo is the third day as it’s finally breaking up. Bob and I have a welded aluminum boat which means it can take pushing through the ice, and we did. (This also scraps clean the bottom of our boat brilliantly too.) We went out to where our sailboat is moored and did a few circles around her to free her up and then we went all around the rest of the bay to break ice for those that are living aboard their boats and would have difficulty getting to shore with their row boats.

Off to a good start since this happened on January 1st  making it our first good deed for 2016!

Our sailboat in the icy bay 2016

gulls standing on ice

The big 9-0

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Well,  that’s a milestone.

A life that has witnessed the horse and buggy to iPhones.

The gathering of the clan, 34 of us, took place on the 13th at my mothers house without a hitch; consisting of her children (4) and the 3 spouses, 5 family friends and filling out the rest were her Grandchildren, and Great-grandchildren. There were 7 other Grandchildren and 9 Great grandchildren and 1 Great-Great Grand child that couldn’t attend.

That’s a hill of beans.

All the little ones managed to avoid toppling the glass coffee table, but there were a few times when a loud bang was heard and every adult stopped mid-conversation to suddenly turn to look and listen for a screaming cry expecting a bruised forehead or worse, but no, just a knee bumped against the glass from jumping too close to the table. They played happily together, these cousins, some who have never met until that day. No tears or tantrums erupted.

It was a good day. A reunion.

I spent the night at her house that night, giving my sister and brother-in-law a night off from staying to help her to bed before driving home, and because of not wanting her to be alone after such a happy houseful all afternoon.

When we had settled down to a TV program after supper she began to confess to me that all the while during her party she thought she was at someone else’s house, that she didn’t recognize where she was. And that she thought we were celebrating Christmas. “That was my Birthday?”  I consoled her by saying that with all the people in the house and the dining room chairs not sitting in the usual spots may have caused a bit of confusion and that it was a busy day and perhaps she was tired. That she’d feel less fuzzy in the morning. She asked “why does my brain do this? I must be losing my mind.” And said that it was very strange.

During the party she was happy and engaged so I was surprised when she said this to me later. She enjoyed the day. But then I remembered when we brought the cake out, sang, and waited for her to blow out the candles she didn’t and had to be encouraged by her friend Peter and by us singing out ” And she huffed and she puffed and she blew…!” twice.

I was concerned a little that she may have difficulty sleeping worrying about her slipping memory, but she slept sound.

The next morning she remembered the “Epic Day”, she read through her birthday cards, we counted all the people that had filled the room, and talked about the children. She was bright and happy and said, “Bless your hearts, all of you, and thank you for that wonderful day.”