a long time

A million years ago (don’t all of my stories happen a million years ago?) E was going to take me out for a nice dinner for my birthday. We hadn’t been out to a nice dinner, alone, for a long time. We had two small boys and a recent pregnancy and our dining out experiences revolved around the ABC restaurant for Sunday breakfasts and the ABC restaurant for family dinners. Stop me if I have told you this one before.

So I was excited. We had a babysitter and I could fit into a pre-pregnancy dress and we were going out to a nice restaurant for the first time in forever. E heard about the restaurant from a client and thought it would be perfect. We were taken to our seats and I burst into tears. We were sitting in a restaurant which I am sure had very nice food but it felt like a cafeteria. It was brightly lit, open air, mostly empty and there was not a table cloth to be seen. There was probably a family with small children at the next table. E excused himself and went to the back of the restaurant to borrow a phone. He called the Teahouse at Stanley Park and got a last minute reservation. We thanked the server, put our menus down and drove to Stanley Park. It was a lovely dinner and, oh yea, E has the patience of Job.

Now in my defense. I do not consider myself a high maintenance fussy type of a woman. Hell, we caught eight mice in our house in the last day. But for a special birthday dinner, for the first time out without children, they should at least provide a table cloth.

Normally, I am not inclined to cut garden flowers and bring them into the house. I often cut them to give away to friends but I rarely put them in our house. I don’t like it when they die. But this summer is different. I am determined to enjoy every moment of this year’s blossoms.

Rain was scheduled so I cut all of the peonies and brought them into our house before they could be damaged. The house smelled gorgeous. Now that they are done, I saved the petals in a pretty box to get every last moment of their scent. You can just imagine how great they smell.

Many of the roses in the garden are also blooming and it is a terrible waste since the current rains keep me indoors for the better part of the day. The rains should be over by Wednesday, and the roses will bloom all month, so I will get plenty of enjoyment from them but, in the mean time, I brought a few in to enjoy. They are lovely.

3 Peace and 1 Julia Child rose
2 Evelyn and 1 Meidiland rose

Tomorrow we are going to venture out for lunch in a restaurant for the first time in fifteen months and it’s my birthday. My friend suggested a couple of our usual pubs but I told her that only a table cloth will do. She knows me well and agreed whole heartedly. We are really looking forward to a conversation with our friends over a glass of wine, while someone else cooks the meal and then another brings it to our table. It has been

a long time

best of times

Their teacher called them the three musketeers . From the first day of French immersion kindergarten they were solid friends. The five year old boys were the oldest children in their families and they had siblings, all of a similar age. Their three Moms met at the first school Halloween party and became fast friends. I love those two other women.

On Saturday nights, we would tire the kids out at either the 5pm family skate or the family swim at the local leisure centre. We would all then return to our house and do make your own pizzas for dinner. With our combined ten kids spent and fed, we six parents would plant them in front of the TV for rented movies from Blockbuster in the family room. Then, we would close the kids behind the family room door and retire to the living room for wine and laughter. Much much later in the evening we would open the door to discover ten sleeping kids, cuddled together safe and happy. We parents were young, with little money for entertainment, and enjoyed many a Saturday night together drinking wine in our collective living rooms while our kids chilled together in amazing harmony.

Why am I telling you this? I have readers from the island who like to hear what is going on here while they are away. I have readers from my childhood who like to hear about the whales and wild life and I have readers from the off-grid world who like to hear about septic systems.. But, I also have readers from our days raising kids and tonight this blog is for them.

Tonight, I am homesick. I am missing our life in the town where we raised our kids. They were good days and we had a gorgeous home, an amazing garden and lots of supportive, loving friends. What brought about this nostalgia?

One of the three Musketeers , was married tonight and E and I were invited. At 4 pm we turned in to the live-stream coverage of his wedding in the back yard of his family’s historic property. It was lovely to be able to witness the ceremony from here on our off-grid island. I have to admit I cried through most of it. I was so happy for the groom and his parents but it made me just so homesick for the days when we lived in that town, raising our children. It reminded me how much I love our friends from that town and how much I miss them, and our life there.

I am fully aware that we live in paradise and that I enjoy the peace and tranquility which my mind demands. I know we have much to be grateful for and that our new island friends are kind and loving and supportive. Perhaps, it is because I know that this week I will grow older that I wish to relive those days just once more. They really were the

best of times

unlikely communal effort

Some of the women on the island work together to create a prize for the annual raffle draw. The prize is awarded at the AGM in August and is our main community fundraising effort to support the volunteer fire department. The prize alternates from a knitted afghan one year to a quilt the next. Anyone who wants to help is invited to join in on the project. All efforts are appreciated. Some of us had never quilted or knit before we moved here. The more skilled are happy to teach those of us who know nothing and, as the years progress, the skill sets improve.

The projects are fun and a great way to contribute to the community. With a somewhat limited opportunity to sell tickets on a small island, they are usually sold from the May long weekend pancake breakfast until the last moments before the start of the August AGM. We normally sell about 750 tickets at $2.00 each. It is common that it is the quilters/knitters ourselves who buy most of the tickets. Less expenses, we usually raise about $1000.00.

It could be the fact that the real estate market went crazy this year and every single property which was for sale, sold, resulting in the substantial increase of the population. Or it could be the ease of on-line ticket sales. I like to think it is the quilt itself which drew the demand because we sold out of tickets in May after ten days. Our application with BC Lotteries only requested 1000 tickets but we could have asked to sell more. In ten years we have never sold that many, so who knew? It’s kind of wacky but as my sister in law said, trees, what’s not to like?

I thought you might be interested in an update on the bear at the salmon net site. It seems the community at the remote lake have a project of their own.

Our son sent us the latest pictures from the trail cam at the rope holding the nets in place. Apparently it isn’t just the bear who thinks the salmon should be released. In the same place, the recent pictures are of a deer and a coyote chewing the same rope. This deer risks his life and limb, in an area which must obviously smell like coyote and bear, to chew on a rope holding salmon in a net. It seems the release of the salmon has become an

unlikely communal effort

For a testimonial

Every morning I pack one of my quilted bags with my needs of the day. I bring it with me to the garden. It could be my glasses, dog cookies, notepad, and sometimes, perhaps, an apple. Always my phone. I then leave the bag in the greenhouse while I putter in the garden.

I don’t know why I call it a phone, I never use it to actually talk to people. Certainly, no one ever calls me. Well, that’s not true, a friend called me yesterday and E will call me when I can’t find where I left the phone. Other than that the only people who have called me recently, other than the kids on Mother’s Day, were foreign agents warning me that, due to a tax error, I could be going to jail. I never actually talk to them for long but I am sure they are just trying to be helpful. It is quite surreal to be sitting in my garden on an island in the middle of nowhere and have calls from such a wide variety of international well wishers. You don’t believe me? This is a picture of the actual recent callers on my phone.

Yesterday, along with my packed quilted bag, I took a bunch of cardboard up the hill to burn at the burn pile. I also grabbed some wood bits from the studio and dropped the garbage on the burn pile next to the greenhouse. I lit the fire and then went about my business watering all the vegetables.

Everything in the garden is thriving. The vegies are green and healthy, the peonies are in full bloom and the roses have started to blossom. It looks great up there and it is a very pleasant place to sit and think. One thought I had was that I should take a picture of my new rose. I went to the greenhouse to fetch my phone from the bag and it wasn’t there.

To err is human, and it seems that each and every day here I prove how human I am. I had put my quilted bag on the fire with the garbage. Burned the dog cookies, and the notepad, not one, but two pairs of glasses, and my phone.

Once I dug the melted black lump out of the ashes and gave it a chance to cool down, we washed the melted plastic glass frames off it and restarted it. I am available once again to receive calls. Hopefully fewer from Latvia and more from my kids. I should see if Apple wants to pay me

for a testimonial

bean bag chair

Last June I told you about my pandemic inspired pantry experiment. (to me yippee)

The goal was to stock the house (it’s a small house) with all of the supplies we would need for one year. This included everything from computer paper to lentils to chocolate. I tried to purchase every item we could need, which would allow us to go several months, ideally a year, without going to town. So, it has been a year. How did we do?

As a base, the freezer was filled with every conceivable meat, including 30 pounds of Halibut which we were able to buy through a friend of a friend and packaged into 40 dinner sized portions which were rationed carefully. We stocked up on a shocking amount of peanut butter and breakfast cereal. There were pounds of coffee tucked into every nook and cranny of the house. You can imagine libations were of primary concern. We stocked “a cellar” with homemade wine.

We, fortunately, had a weekly grocery delivery, from a neighbouring island, which I wasn’t aware I would have, that provided us with fresh milk, fruit, vegetables and unexpected needs. I gave myself a limit of $50.00 per week. The shopping list was routine. Milk, bread, two tomatoes, mandarin oranges, 6 bananas and a cauliflower. If I needed a turkey, I made our bread that week. If we needed dish soap, I used the long life milk instead of buying fresh. We are very boring cooks with about six recipes that we rotate. We have very simple needs and honestly it was fun to play with the concept. There wasn’t anything else to do all winter!

Thank god for island eggs. We have neighbours with chickens who provided endless meals with their eggs. At $6.00 per dozen for huge fresh eggs, we were thrilled to include the cost in my weekly budget.

It goes without saying that all junk food and treats were gone by Christmas. Chocolate, trail mix, taco chips and salsa were the first to go.

We ran out of dog food at Christmas and again this week. Three bags of Costco dog food lasts five months. I do not have the space to store eight bags of dog food annually so I can’t fix this problem. Storage is a factor. It is one thing to store hundreds of bottles of wine under the house quite another to store dog food in a world of mice, squirrels and raccoons. For worst case scenarios, I keep cans of dog food under our bed.

We ran out of toothpaste. I had bought seven. We ran out of liquid hand soap, bars of soap, dish soap and laundry detergent. I wasn’t aware of how hard it was to stay clean. We ran out of HP sauce until I remembered my sister in law gave me some of her homemade. All good for toilet paper and paper towels but ran out of kleenex.

I have enough lentils until the end of time.

There can never be enough chocolate in the house. We will often share a chocolate bar as a treat rather than making cookies and cakes. If we even have one bar, shared between us per week, that is 52 chocolate bars!!!!!!! Hard to go through the check out at the grocery store with 52 chocolate bars without experiencing a little shame.

E has been working on the live edge shelf for the kitchen island. Our brother in law milled a nice piece of alder and E sanded the bejesus out of it.. All stained with Varathane, it looks mighty fine.

The lessons learned from my pantry experiment are evidenced by the shopping list for the coming year. We need more cleaning products than I could ever have imagined. I had seven toothpastes last year, this year I will get twelve. There is no such thing as too much junk food in the pantry and I need to make more salsa this summer. All the extra lentils won’t go to waste, apparently they can also be used to make a nice

bean bag chair

cutting the rope

One of our sons, through his work, is involved in a conservation project whereby they set nets in one area to trap salmon who need to be released to another area. Over the last couple of weeks the nets have been cut where they were anchored to the trees from the shore. Multiple times, multiple nets in an isolated area which is 20 minutes by bushwhacking to the nearest public access. They could not figure out who would go to that trouble to get to such a remote area to vandalize the nets and why. So they set up cameras to catch the guy.

We continue to have people fish illegally in front of us. We live in a rockfish conservation area. These guys drive me nuts. If they went 100 feet in either direction they wouldn’t be breaking any laws. The only plus is that they rarely catch anything. Our neighbour, who fishes legally on the other side of the island, caught an amazing 31 pound cod this week. As I always say, good things come to those who aren’t jerks. Fortunately for us, our very kind neighbour shared a large piece of his catch with us. I see some fish and chips in our future.

A million years ago, I spent some time going to school at Dalhousie in Nova Scotia. While there, I was invited to go on a cod jigging day trip. This was long before the collapse of the cod fishery on the eastern seaboard, when you could still drop a line with a hook on it from your hand, jig it a bit and catch a fish. I am very proud of this picture, which I can say with great pride, captures for all time proof positive of the wide legged jeans we wore in the 70’s.

We have neighbours who catch prawns very successfully. We see them on the dock bringing their spotted bounty back to the island and we are envious. We have tried and tried. Our current cost per prawn is at about $75.00. Our traps have been stolen, lost in the tide and dragged by a tugboat. Even if the traps are where we left them when we return to haul in our catch, there is often just one or two prawns. So our sister in law went out with the prawn whisperer to see what he does. She then came out with us to impart her newly learned skills. It turns out we were doing one very important thing wrong. I can’t explain it but suffice to say we are expecting the tide to turn on our prawn catching success rate.

So the cameras were able to catch the culprit. I cannot imagine how he thinks he will benefit from

cutting the rope