Artist in the time of Corona

Have you seen the memes being circulated that show an artist before, during, and then after the Coronavirus self isolation period? In each phase the artist is doing exactly the same thing- creating. Another meme shows a gardener in each phase of isolation who also continues as usual in working in the garden.

The message is obvious. Creatives, and artists can isolate like champs. Happy in our own little world.

And I’m grateful to be living in a good place while this nasty pandemic is ruling our lives. Not seeing my kids and grandkids is my only heartache.

Of course in the beginning of our Sheltering in Place period, there was quite a bit of anxious focus and energy given to thinking how to retool our lives to fit our New Normal. Like, how are we shopping now? Is it okay to even go to town to shop for food?  Do we set up sanitization stations at our front doors? Do we wear gloves? Masks ? Are we suppose to strip off all our clothes before entering our homes after being in town? Do we wash all our groceries and packaging before putting them away? What happened to all the toilet paper? The flour, the yeast?

Because I live in a tiny island community, one kilometre from the main big island of Vancouver, many here don’t have their own boat and rely on the private little passenger ferry to get to town. When the ferry had to implement a severely limited ferry schedule and cut the passenger count from 32 to 14 per run to adhere to health distancing protocol this brought a surge of near panic and mayhem amongst my neighbours.

I’m fortunate (logically practical?) to have always had my own boat. And right about now many of my neighbours are considering hard in buying their own boats too.

Those of us with boats were requested to be available for emergency rides if needed. Our community email feed each day became filled not only with discussions about the virus but also with; who needs a ride in, and is anyone going to town and could they pick up a grocery item, or asking if anyone is going to Costco, or to pick up a package at the post office, or a prescription at the pharmacy. Often times when a neighbour is in town they would post on our community fb page asking if anybody needs anything. We came together and we help where possible. Benefits of a small tight knit community.

There are the daily morning updates from our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and our community discussions over particular protocols to be followed, with the latest agreement that visitors would be disallowed coming to our island. In fact all of the gulf Islands have banned visitors form coming. Signs saying this were posted at dock heads, and at the ferry waiting area in town. Next was to close the kids playground area and our off leash dog park when the government mandated to close all recreation parks.

There was simply a lot to digest in those first few weeks. And it can take a bit of time to disseminate all of this new information. 

Now we have seemingly settled into our respective routines. The community email feed has levelled out. Requests for town item pickups have lessened. We’re tentatively acquainted with how things are to be done. We put on a courteous face, although there is a hum of cautious nervousness just under the surface when in town and interacting with a cashier at the grocery store, or waiting in line outside the pharmacy. We can’t ignore the profound feeling that this is truly a surreal experience/existence.

Being an artist while living through this is a saving grace. Creatives enjoy their solitary time, given there is coffee and snacks within reach.  We may not be in the company of others, but we don’t mind because we are in the constant, engaging company of our artist self. We can never feel bored, lonely, or at a loss in what to do. We are constantly inspired by even the quietest muse.

And, what I’m really enjoying right now is seeing the videos of the music, the dances, the skits, the art from all those out there who are embracing this forced opportunity to be creative too.

Give people enough space and time from the daily grind and see what good things can happen.

I hope you are finding your muse to help you get through this time and are staying well  ~

 

 

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety Jig.

Finally home from the drive back east visiting relatives in Georgian Bay, Ontario, and then my month long stay with my daughter and her new baby in Salmon Arm.

We left home July 19th and it’s good to be back to my little island rock in the Nanaimo harbour. But, in true island fashion/frustration, there was a hitch getting here.

It was 9:00 pm when Bob and I got off the B.C Ferry from Vancouver, and its monsoonal rainfall. We got  to the marina where we dock our boat and unloaded all our gear from the car down the dock ramp and into our boat, then drove the car over to our parkade a block away, walked back to the boat, jumped in and Bob turned the key to start the 50 hp outboard- and nothing happened.

Dead battery. Probably caused by the bilge pump sticking and not turning off after it had pumped all the water out that had collected in the boat during our time away.  Bob let out some pretty (in)decent expletives as I check the time and said it’s 9:55, the Dinghy Dock Ferry to the island (and home) is at 10:10.

We have to make that boat. Bob swore some more. So a mad dash back to the parkade, retrieve the car, drive back to the boat basin, reload our bags into the car, drive back to the parkade to re-park the car, and hustle down to the ferry landing.

We made it. And once on the island, and relief set in, the tranquil 20 minute walk to our house from the little ferry was a pleasant homecoming.

Yesterday Bob took the Dinghy Dock Ferry back to town, dropped our dead battery off at the battery shop to recharge. Today, both of us taking the little ferry, we picked up the now charged battery and put it in our boat, along with all our luggage from the car, and the three bags of groceries we bought. Now everything is home!

What’s missing in my feature photo is what we couldn’t carry ourselves and had left at the dock head. A bag of potatoes, two coolers, a big bag containing my coats, and another containing two pillows. Bob was off with our wheelbarrow retrieving them.

We are still thinking of getting a small truck for over here. But then where’s the strain and exercise with that?

So goes island life. It’s not without its worthy efforts!

 

Mother/Daughter

My girls, Beacon Hill Park, Victoria B.C.

I call Victoria B.C my soul city even though I had only lived there a mere five years, during my mid twenties; a struggling single parent with a four year old daughter. Even though it was during the more difficult time in my life, young, directionless, and floundering in a relationship with a rock guitarist.

Yet still. I think it is where I grew. And though the growth had its hardships, and in truth don’t the two go hand in hand, these times and places where growth happens always leave an indelible mark. For better or worse.

I was in fact quite happy in those five Victoria years despite the obvious chaos and confusion I had going on then. Ok – my entire 20’s decade was chaos and confusion- but, I grew up. A bit.

Within that five year period while there I worked at a five star Bed and Breakfast as the breakfast chef, which I absolutely loved, then later left the B&B to train and work as a Care Aid. The money was union money and benefits, so it was a strategic employment choice.

Even so, it was when my daughter and I were evicted from our James Bay apartment that eventually determined our move back up island to affordable Nanaimo.

Reason for eviction being the building we were living in was unfortunately slated for demolition. Being built in its place a luxury adult oriented condo high rise. Thus all of us were given notice. And leaving Victoria, reason being that I couldn’t afford to rent a house, and to find an apartment that allowed children was nearly impossible to come by at the time. I looked hard, searching through the listings in the Times-Colonist in every effort to remain in Victoria. The thought of leaving was, I didn’t want to think about leaving. But, time was running out and nothing was coming up.

Except for a two bedroom house my sister-in-law’s parents had coming available in Nanaimo just as my daughter and I would be exiting the Victoria apartment.

But that last Victoria residence, our apartment, was where our fondest memories are kept. It was full of single parents and low income families. We were happy there, neighbours helping each other with child care, and bonding together as a tight community. It was across the street from Beacon Hill Park. My daughter and I could walk out our door, cross the street, and have all of Beacon Hill Park and that great stretch of waterfront at our fingertips. Or we could take a walk down streets lined with great old trees and character homes and be downtown in the heart of the harbour in ten minutes. My daughter’s school was a three minute walk away.

And although I have lived in Nanaimo for most of my adult life, from the age of eighteen, whenever I go to Victoria  – it’s only a one and half hour drive away- I feel as if I’m being embraced by the dearest of an old favourite aunt. It feels like I’m coming home.

This feeling is the same for my daughter.

Recently she visited from her home in Kimberley, located in the Rockies of B.C., with her one and half year old daughter, my first grand baby. A visit to Victoria is on the list of things she wants to do.

Spending the day walking through the park, my baby with her baby, seeing these two together, I could see my daughter once again as the little girl she was with me, remembering our life here, my own youth, my young daughter at my side where together we once had spent so much time, climbing the rocky shoreline over looking the ocean and out towards Port Angeles in the United States.

A little melancholic, our past Victoria life flickered briefly before me as I watched my daughter with her daughter, for those few years when it was just she and I.

 

A Bird in Hand

A small bird slammed hard into my big kitchen window yesterday, landing on its back in the flowerpot below, wings splayed, dazed. I went to it and scooped it gently into my hands and sat on the porch steps. Its eyes were open but the left one was squinting. Must’ve hit on that side. Cradling it in my cupped hand I let it rest, feeling the ball of so much heat radiating from its little body into my palm. I felt a kindred. It closed its eyes and began to doze off.

Then I thought of concussions and that sleep can be fatal, so I began to gently move the bird to roust it, opening its eyes again. We sat on the porch for twenty minutes or so then I thought this may take a while, and decided to place the bird in a basket on my patio table. It would be safe, and would have to take the chance  that though it may sleep, it will be all right.

I watched it through the window as I worked inside. It stayed on the cushion I had put in the basket for another hour. I’d go out to check and it would open its eyes, but not move. Another hour passed and I looked, it had moved to perch on the edge of the cushion, but I noticed it was a little wobbly. Not wanting to disturb it I watched closer through a pair of compact binoculars from the kitchen window. Although it was standing, it was still dozing off, dipping its head down.

Eventually I went out and quietly sat in the chair beside the patio table and observed the little bird, still perched, for several minutes. Its eyes were open now but made no attempt to move. I began to think maybe this little bird will never fully recover, that there may be brain damage. Forget how to fly, how to find food.

I went back in to get my sketch book, thought it’s not often one has a live bird this close and still, and sat by the bird again. It was looking more alert now. I began to draw, just getting its initial shape down before it suddenly flickered away off and up into the nearby bushes.

Leaving me fascinated by that little creatures resiliency after a hard blow. A human would not have fared so well I think.  Leaving me wishing the bird well.

I smiled. I should have brought my sketchbook out sooner.

 

Summer Time and the Living is Busy- and Fun

The crashing aftermath of an empty, quiet house since our July company departed resonates with a small shush. Bob and I reclaim our space like water spreading back into cracks and crevices. A tiny empty nest sensation pervades, but more the satisfaction of time well spent with these family members from Ontario over the last twenty days. Ten days with my brother-in-law Dan, then a three day turn around before my step daughter Crystal and her cousin Melanie arrived for ten days. We packed on the kilometres showing all of them our beautiful west coast island home.

We covered as much as we could cram in to make their trip memorable, driving out to Long Beach on the Pacific Rim, walking across the Kinsol Trestle,in Shawnigan, Sail boating on our little Auklet, backyard BBQ’s. We did Alpine walks in Paradise Meadows at Mount Washington along with a ride up that mountain on the ski lift. We swam in the Nanaimo river, took in the Sand Sculptures in Parksville, and the weekend blast of our cities Bathtub Race. We took them on the tiny Mill Bay ferry over to Buchart’s Garden in Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula and a tour through the capital city Victoria.

Ah, Victoria yes, walking the historic downtown with Bob and his brother Dan, pointing out the architecture, when what I thought was a gush of water from an overhead flower box -Victoria is known for its flowers-was in fact the faecal bombing of a passing seagull. Oh yes, the splat landing square on top of my head. Feel the seeping into the hair if you will. In all my years living along the ocean with  seagulls wheeling overhead have I ever had such a magnificent soaking. This prompted an immediate return to our motel, driving with all windows down because the high piercing reek of rotten fish permeating the car, and a jump into the shower.

I handled it well. Laughed, didn’t lose my cool. I took it as an omen of good fortune. Ya. (wait it has to be a bald eagle I think…)

Then there was the exhilarating drive following the dictates of our Google Maps when searching for the quickest route back from the Saanich Peninsula to Mill Bay, rather than taking the tiny ferry back across  the inlet or driving back through Victoria and over the Malahat. Google guided us around Mount Finlayson on its thin roads with hairpin turns until at last depositing us down into Goldstream Provincial Park . Close enough.

We were good hosts and ambassadors to our guests and had a ton of fun being tourists ourselves in our own backyard.  Bob and I promising ourselves  we need to continue exploring this big island for ourselves instead of waiting for company to come.

Signage at the top of Mt. Washington, a Whiskey Jack on top of top of the world. These birds are ridiculously, fearlessly social. Put a hand out and they will land on it. Have food in your hand and they are your new best friend.

 

The view dropping over the edge of the top of Mt Washington riding the ski lift.

 

The reaction of a flat lander when the earth drops from under you on the way down from the top of Mt. Washington. It’s OK she was fine the rest of the way.

 

Day at the Kinsol Trestle in Shawnigan.

 

Choosing a route at Paradise Meadows in the Sub-Alpine.

 

Open Meadows of the sub- alpine.

 

The Buchart’s Gardens, well a small section of it. It’s huge, took 31/2 hours to walk its entirety.

 

Swimming in our local river, a first ever river swim for our guests. It was splendid.

 

A must-stop at Ellis River en route to Tofino and Long Beach.

 

Long Beach at sunset. A young woman heading for the surf. One day by gum I’m gonna do that.

 

Dan at Long Beach, contemplating leaving Ontario winters and moving West perhaps.

 

One of several Sand Sculptures at Parksville.

 

Our famous, and this year most treacherous in sixty years due to extreme conditions, Nanaimo Bathtub Race!

 

Warrants two photo spots in my blog. Bone crushing for both tubber and their escort boat. 33 tubs entered and only 4 finished. Last one taking 5 hours to come in. Thanks to a local -unknown to me- photographer for these shots I pulled from our little island community fb page.

 

Another day closed, but we head into town for some music from my sons new band playing at a local pocket cocktail bar called The Nanaimo Bar with Crystal and Melanie ~

 

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 ~

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.”

 

Lyle and John

Photo courtesy of the web

I crossed the water to see these guys a few nights ago at the theatre downtown, a great show. I adore Lyle, his vocal styling , his masterful writing and guitar prowess, and to be frank it was he that I was really excited about. I didn’t know a lot about John Hiatt, I knew some of his work, watched some You Tube videos, but all that changed with seeing him in live performance. He was Amazing. IS amazing. A harmonious contrast to Lyle and equally powerful.

Coupled with their (really funny! ) dry wit bantering it was an intimate, warm welcoming night with two of the best music masters,  made us feel we were just sitting with two guys singing and playing guitar in the living room.

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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A Prairie winter came to the west coast

snow boots 2017Snow Boots. Now I know it doesn’t look like a lot of snow here but believe me, we had snow ! It was well over one foot, two feet in some areas. Don’t laugh, that is impressive here in our non mountainous areas, it was beautiful. I can’t understand why I didn’t take any photos of it as it was blanketing my wee island, but I got a few before the final thaw.

Vancouver on the other hand was suffocating in it. Vehicle travel was pure and utter debilitating chaos. We just are not accustom to this degree of white rain.

Crab claw 2017

 

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One of our chickens. Okay it’s a quail, scavenging some fallen bird seed from the feeder.

Bob shoveling the dock 2017

Clearing the dock to our boat was a good work out…for Bob. Twice. We dock at the very end, and with the repetitive freezing rain, partial thawing, then more snow proved walking to the boat was a tad treacherous during those weeks.

Today all is green again. I worked out in the yard the entire day yesterday and it felt so good sensing spring feels oh so near ~

Blue Monday

Parksville Beach 2016

Why is that one Monday delegated as Blue in the middle of the month? Is it assuming that those of us in this hemisphere (northwest coast) dragging our depressed, beleaguered sorry asses through yet another blah day of malaise and dreary existence? Yanking up our drooping heads to remind us that- Ha see?  There are STILL sixteen days left in this freakishly long dark month!

Thanks but no thanks.

I am the glass half full girl. I shall reappoint that Monday to Yay Monday. Hey, there’s only sixteen days left till January is over! And like magic…

I admit January is not my favorite winter month. We have left behind those lovely but unusually  clear, cold, sunny days we had in the past weeks, and although we have gained one half hour of daylight, since we have entered into our normal Vancouver January weather blanket of soggy, wet, and grey it’s hard to tell. Upside, I am on the West coast so I don’t have to wait till spring thaw three months down the road.

I have come to obsessing about the weather, a Canadian past time-or requirement still not sure, and I have confirmed that I prefer dry, clear, cold winters to grey, damp wet ones.

Optimism prevails here though and yesterday there was a beautiful break in the sky with a bluster of balmy wind that broke the clouds apart, revealing a rainbow that stretched over the Strait of Georgia like an encouraging nod that spring is only weeks away. Weeks away my friend ~

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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Back in the Saddle

SO grateful to have our commuter boat out of the shop and back home! Yes, yes there is a passenger ferry we can use to get to town BUT when bringing groceries home it’s a 20 minute walk. No big deal if one had a car or golf car, but our car is broken down too and awaiting a haul off the island.

Fast and efficient once again!

 

 

# Island Life

So the 3 horse is working after all- thank goodness- but it’s a slow plough through the water to get to town. Bob, perched like a cormorant drying it’s wings on a log, sits exposed to the weather on the transom holding in one hand the handle of a pipe wrench that’s clamped on to the 50 horse to keep it on course, and the other hand holding the throttle of the 3 horse.

The wind was up but didn’t seem too rough. At first. By the time we got out into it the waves were oh, shoulder height. Yee- haw.

Brought back memories when we drove small open boats for about 18 years, ah yes, those were the wet, dare I say, drenched days of yore. When even the slightest chop would land us salt encrusted. But it was the dinghy years that I did fondly remember. In retrospect, madness.

Picture if you will an 8 foot inflatable holding two adults and two young teenagers. From a distance you wouldn’t even see what it was our four bodies were perched upon, a little closer you think, are they on an inner tube? Then add in the groceries. This at least wasn’t always the case, the kids used the ferry most of the time. Not as embarrassing.

Better still, is the year I was attaining my Bakers certificate at our university. I had to be there by 5 am. No ferry leaves here until 7 am so, of course I fearlessly donned my cruiser suit (a floatation suit) and goggles when there was frozen rain, and off I went on my “inner tube” into the January blackness. Of course.

Never, I say, never underestimate a stubborn woman.

Tugs out in the bay moving log booms must’ve shaken their heads. They would train their big lights on this little dot zipping by them as I waved my flashlight to alert them of my presence. A WTF moment for them I’m sure.

The kicker in this bit of insanity was that we sold our 16 foot fiberglass powerboat with its 70H to buy said inner tube and a 6H motor. Oh yeah, you see, we had bought a sailboat the year before and we needed a Tender or dinghy for it, and because the shouts of reason and common sense were entirely ignored, we gave up a perfectly great commuter with its trailer I will add, to scoot about on a piece of rubber. Sure- a tender for the sailboat and can be our commuter boat for a family of four. One boat, two applications.

A no brainer. Well, we got that right.

We then went on to a succession of open aluminum, popped riveted boats that required a half hour of hand bailing before setting out. Scoop, sploosh, scoop, sploosh. Repetitive moves that caused rhymes in my head, (scoop) got water (sploosh) in my boat (scoop) gotta bail (sploosh) if I wanna float.

Glory days my friend, glory days. But I was (we) were younger then.

Now, as of two years ago, we have our 16 foot aluminum with a canopy. Because I made it unequivocally clear to Bob that I would now tolerate no less. On one of our final runs in our last open boat before bringing our newly purchased boat home a huge swell reared and landed square in our laps, like a final ribbing from the sea, ha-HA, take that ya scurvy dogs, one last time will ye be victims of me soakin’!  To which Bob exclaimed,” AH, wet down to the ass!”

Which subsequently prompted the christening of the new boat, Nowetass.

So next week she’s scheduled to go in to have the hydraulics and the electrical issues dealt with and we’ll be back in business. In the meantime we must putt across at a snails pace and take the weather as it comes, but with the knowing that again soon we’ll be taking whatever the sea throws at us in dry stride and 10 times the speed.

Arrrr !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it rains it pours

Living on this little island has its charms by the cart full yes, but when things go off track the repercussions can be far reaching. Case in point, to begin we have an old van on the island, (barged over as all vehicles and golf carts are since there isn’t a car ferry here, only a small passenger ferry), which we use when we have to bring home large or heavy items or a big grocery shop day.

In the past 18 years when we didn’t have a vehicle here we used a wheel barrow, or if the item was really huge we enlisted a neighbor with a truck.

Except the time Bob, in a conduct that I can only label as masochistic, brought all the lumber and other building materials needed to build the large workshop adjoining our house by wheelbarrow. Bags of cement, 6×6’s 2×4’s, trusses. I was there, I watched it happen, I steadied the long lumber as he grunted down the road. But this type of behavior has been common when there were less vehicles over here. Once several years back Bob and a few other guys picked up a house and walked it down the road to another property.

Anyway the van is broken down, something to do with the steering column. Bob had fixed it, after spending a full day searching out the part in an auto wreckers. It worked for a couple of weeks, now not working. And because he hasn’t a clue now how to fix what he thought he fixed, and can’t simply take it to a mechanic for repair, it sits.  All right we’ve been carless before, and we have two wheelbarrows now (moving up), so it’s back to that for time being.

Now today heading down the road with wheelbarrow in hand we got to our boat, started the motor and shoved off, only to find the steering wasn’t working, hydraulics issue? We managed to get back to the dock, and when Bob looked below the console and touched a wire it sparked.

Luckily our neighbor was just then climbing into her boat and Bob got a ride to town. He needed to drop off the transmission for our sailboat today at the mechanics because that’s another thing that isn’t working.

Van down, commuter boat down, sailboat down.

After dropping the transmission off Bob drove to the marina where we moor our sailboat and picked up the three horse we use for the dinghy, brought it down to the harbor in town and put it in another neighbors boat to bring back to the island on his way back home after work.

I’ve probably lost you by now but I’ll carry on-

Bob jumped on the little ferry and came home, followed by a twenty minute walk in pouring rain.

After he rested and our neighbor called to say he deposited our three horse in our boat down at the dock, Bob then headed down to put it onto the transom as a kicker so we can at least get the broken boat down the channel where the marine repair guys can pick it up with their trailer and take it into the shop.

Bob came back an hour later. The three horse isn’t working either.

All righty then-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new addition to the Flotilla

Twenty-five years ago when we bought our sailboat and took our first cruise down through the gulf islands one thought came in my mind: Kayaking through here would be perfect. All inside waters between the string of gulf islands, nice and sheltered. From that time onward it was a desire to own one. Bob was not interested in having to paddle any where the wind could easily take him with less strenuous effort, and anyway our focus during that time was in becoming competent sailors.

The desire to have a kayak slowly crept back into the forefront once again and when a neighbor posted that he was selling his 17′ Current Design Solstice I jumped at it.

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Happy camper. Now to get Bob in one.

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Honest

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Found this memorial bench while in Ucluelet on the West coast of Vancouver Island and had to admire its directness. Left me wondering if this was an opinion he held of himself, or is this the exasperated true confession of a spouse. Honouring the fact that he was a good man yes, but to also let it be known to everyone who maybe didn’t know that “He irritated the hell out of me!”

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~ 🙂