are over achievers

Beginning the first year we were married we made a gingerbread house every Christmas. I would make the gingerbread. E would design and make the structure and later when we had kids they would gather around the kitchen table with bowls and bowls of candy to decorate.

The houses became more and more complex. At one point E was melting hard candies to make stain glass windows and lighting was fed up through the floors to illuminate the colors.

Years ago, I worked for a big blue company. There were a lot of woman in the office who were around same age as me with small children. One winter a Christmas cookie exchange was organized. Mainly the event was an opportunity to drink wine and have some fun . Coming home with a car full of cookies and treats was an added benefit.

So the concept was each of us was to make ten dozen cookies of one type. Ten woman were invited and each one would go home with ten dozen cookies, ten different types. You would be well supplied with a selection of baked goods to take to family dinners, children’s parties at school or for some of us, to eat when no one was looking.

My friends and I gathered in a beautiful new home in Lynne Valley. The evening promised to be great fun and it did prove interesting to see what each woman made. I remember my contribution was less than stellar. I made thumbprint cookies with store bought strawberry jam. Not my finest moment but still I tried.

I did better than the skinny co-worker who showed up with one dozen cookies. She thought she would just take one cookie from each batch. One dozen cookies was all that skinny could imagine needing over the holidays.. Imagine???????

The last woman to arrive to the party brought her contribution in large card board boxes. She had to go to her car three times to get all of the boxes. The other nine of us stood proudly beside the dining room table where our achievement was so beautifully, we thought, displayed. Once her coat was off and her boxes assembled  in the centre of the room  she sighed  “There. Now can someone help me get these on the table?” We all stared in disbelief as the box lids opened to reveal ten individually created gingerbread houses.  Each house came with fencing and trees and lego people playing in the yards. She had made ten F*#@ing gingerbread houses.

You gotta appreciate having people in your life who

are over achievers

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proof Santa exists

As was the custom when our kids were young, family dropped in on Christmas Eve. The winter of ’92 or ’93, their uncle brought with him a wooden puzzle he had had since he was a kid. He couldn’t remember how to put it together and hoped his nephews would help.. They were 3 and 6, I think.

As the evening wore on most gave the puzzle a try. My mother and I didn’t even attempt it. Neither of the boys could do it. Their uncle said he had given up.. His older brother, the kids father, E, couldn’t do it… Everyone was frustrated. Enter Papa, the kids grandfather and E’s Dad. He knew everything from engineering to nautical history. No one knew more than Papa… He sat down to the puzzle with the boys at his knees watching.. Nope, Papa threw it down on the coffee table in disgust. “There must be a piece missing!” he puffed.

As the evening wore on the puzzle was forgotten on the coffee table. The children pushed it aside to lay out milk and cookies in front of the fireplace for Santa. He would be sure to see the snacks when he arrived. The Night Before Christmas was read and the children sent happily off to bed at a most reasonably negotiated hour.

The adults continued their evening of conversation, rum and mince tarts. Shortly before the midnight hour, uncles and aunts and my Mom went home. Papa went upstairs  to our guest room and E and I collapsed in a heap on our bed. The next day would be a long one with the house filled with more family for the turkey dinner.

No sooner had we shut our eyes than the kids were up. As tradition required they were lined up in order of height and paraded down the stairs singing jingle bells. Singing jingle bells, as everyone knows is the universal signal to the beginning of Christmas morning festivities. We opened the door to the living room, the tree lights were on and there were presents everywhere. The stockings were packed full as they hung in front of the fireplace.

Yet, with all there was to see under the tree our youngest son stood staring at the coffee table.The milk was gone. There was a small scrap of paper with a few words written on it laying on the plate where the cookies had been. Beside the the plate was the completed wooden puzzle. The note read ” Thanks kids, for sharing your puzzle. That was fun” Love Santa

There has never been any doubt about Santa in our family. We had

proof Santa exists

have all shrunk

Long ago, we had to accept an “island time” schedule and accept that things don’t happen like they might in the city. Within reason I can accept that. After all we aren’t going anywhere. We are dry and warm and have lots of jobs to keep us busy.

The trials and tribulations of building on an island continue. Murray was telling me today they ordered a new appliance in the city and the store not only will deliver it to their door but takes the old one away. sigh… I’m envious of the convenience.

We are still missing eight windows. One (the bathroom), is not “late”. It is awaiting a stained glass insert which I haven’t finalized yet. The other seven, somehow never made the shipment of windows two months ago.

Last month we received an email that our remaining window order was ready. When Craig went to get it last week, the store could only find three of them… really? How far can windows go? The two pieces of glass for the exterior doors and one small kitchen window was ready. On the up side, Tom was able to finish our exterior doors this weekend with the available glass. The living room door to the deck should be able to be installed this week.

It took easily as long to complete our order for interior doors from an altogether different store..The inverter, which we paid for over night delivery from a third store,

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my little squirrel nodded off for a nap at the entry to his little home

to replace the broken new inverter to replace the working old inverter is still undelivered.. It’s been four weeks. Luckily the local retail outlet gave us one to use in the meantime.

E brings down a few boxes at a time from the studio for me to empty and put away. We have found most of our clothes, but still no Scotch. E spent the day putting door handles on cabinets and generally puttering away at our long list of things to do.. Very little is actually completely finished.. Everything needs just a little bit of work to finish.. Almost done is a state I can live with and keeps E busy…

E hung the shelves in closets this afternoon. I have started to hang clothes brought down from the studio. I do not understand why all of my clothes up in the studio, although wrapped safe and dry for the last year seem to

have all shrunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stick with me

Overheard a thirtyish woman sadly say to a similarly aged man on the ferry to Vancouver this week, “I think it’s time I rehome my pretend dog”

Ok, let’s break this down. The woman seems to have grown tired of her pretend dog but feels concerned enough about its welfare that she accepts her responsibility to find the dog a new pretend home.. Presumably, one where it will have the illusion of happiness. Her friend, I think his name was Gord, an obviously good friend, to his credit, nodded sympathetically.

When you find good solid friends like Gord, it’s important to hold on to them. Those friends that are spoken about in social media memes. Those now clichéd references are the ones I’m talking about. You know who I’m talking about. The friends who you don’t  speak to everyday but still seem to know that you are thinking about them. Sometimes, years can pass between visits but still the bond remains. I have always been fortunate in this regard.

Mom used to tell me.. Forgive your friends three faults and hope they forgive at least three of yours. For example.. say a friend is always, always late for social engagements. Accept that they will be late, plan accordingly and embrace all of their other fine qualities.

I went to Vancouver this week to have dinner with a group of  friends who have been forgiving my faults since 1962. I have written about these women before. (friends)..

We were missing three. One recovering from surgery and one who lives in Australia and only makes it occasionally. Our third missing friend, died this month. I had written about her before. Wendy  As we stood together with our champagne in a beautiful new home overlooking the Vancouver nightscape we toasted to Wendy and to her friendship and to our good fortune to have had her and each other in our lives… We do not take our privilege lightly.

Friends come and go.. and although I have yet to burden a friend with worries about my pretend pets I do accept that friendship with me is not the easiest relationship. I am so grateful to you who

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stick with me

 

stach of Scotch

Last October we stocked the pantry ready for the winter ahead. Then, we rented out our house for a few months and everything I had in the pantry was packed, moved up to the studio and forgotten about. Our clothes went up there as well as all of my books and quilting supplies etc.

With, what seems like a wink of an eye, it is one year later and we are bringing the boxes down from the studio and unpacking them. I can only empty a few at a time as I have to find a place to put everything. Our house is after all still unfinished and not really that much bigger… Although we have higher ceilings and walls covered in windows, those features don’t translate into a lot of additional cupboard space.

Most of the wine has come down. The pantry items, books and crafting supplies were found this morning. With such a dismal production from my vegetable garden this summer I was more than pleased to open up a bin full of canned tomatoes, chutney, pear jam and green tomato relish… Our kitchen cupboards are stocked!

When we packed up our belongings last fall we thought it would be for two months. We kept out a few shirts, a couple of pairs of jeans.. a sweater or two.. Everything else went into garbage bags up in the studio. Over the summer I have been buying clothes as I need them. Honestly, most of what I have left is either stained, faded or shredded. Alison commented that my work jeans look like the expensive fancy jeans they are selling in the stores. You know the ones that have worn through knee caps.. Why anyone would buy a pair of jeans with the tears already in them absolutely defeats me but there you go… we are all different…

E put ceilings in the closets yesterday and today hung the shelves and clothes rod.. (clothes rod? is that the word????) .. He came into the kitchen and pronounced “there you go… start hanging… ” Well, I would if I had anything to hang.. We haven’t found the garbage bags of clothes yet…. More importantly, we haven’t yet

found the stach of Scotch

Squirrel stole my tissue paper but can’t get it into his nest…

 

 

started to read

With me reading in front of the fire, a roof over my head and E, relaxing while he watches hockey on TV, we can consider the reno well under control…  I thought we could have an update on the nature channel facet of our life here. There is after all,  a life here that doesn’t involve barges, lumber and septic systems.

We missed a lot of the nature show last year with our extended vacation at the south end followed by our return to our house wrapped in plastic and plywood. We are looking forward to catching up this winter with the goings on outside our window.

In addition to the squirrel and deer who reside at my back door, I have a resident seal in front of me along with the family of eagles who live next door. The sea lions have begun to swim past us in growing numbers. Sure, its only a few now but I have every confidence that this winter we will be well entertained. With any luck you will grow tired of me talking about rafting sea lions and pods of Orca.

The next door eagle, who last we saw in July fishing on the rock below us, returned last weekend.DSCN1371

There are five eagle nests on the island. The perimeters of the island are well and truly defended when the eagles stand at their posts watching the comings and goings in the water.. The tallest trees at each corner of the island host an eagle on watch throughout October to July each year. In the summers,  the eagle’s head to the rivers to hunt for spawning salmon.

Our friend Dave keeps track of the dates year by year when the animals do their thing. He has a record of a variety of events. He has the dates over the years when, he first heard the frogs in the pond (they are silent in the winter) , when the hummingbirds returned and when the eagles came back. I asked him if the return of our neighbour last weekend was a usual date.. He responded with his records..

Eagles return to the island

  • 2006   October 6
  • 2007    ?
  • 2008    October 18
  • 2009    October 10
  • 2010    October 2
  • 2011    October 28
  • 2012    October 19
  • 2013    October 13
  • 2014    October 8
  • 2015    ?
  • 2016    October 15
  • 2017    October 9

I haven’t read a book since last November. If I was left unsupervised I would read all day every day and virtually accomplish nothing else. If I have other pressing matters which I have had since February.. I just can’t pick up a book.. My daughter, like my Mother before us, is very much like me and when she comes here it is her time to read. Last spring she was here 7 days and read five books.

This week she brought the new Louise Penny book, Glass Houses with her. Proving that I am so comfortable with how the reno is progressing…. I picked up the book and have

started to read

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simple, living here

We had a very successful Thanksgiving.

Much to be grateful for…To have our kids together in one place is a rare event. Aside from us standing together at the bedside of our new granddaughter for 30 minutes this summer, we hadn’t been together as a unit since our family vacation in January..  The whole weekend was made perfect with the timing of our first family dinner in our new home and the first visit of our wee girl to the island…or as her mother will recall it..three days of trying to wrestle the baby out of my arms…sigh..I’m in love…

On to more off grid type topics…

With the successful installation of our new inverter and the optimum functioning of our upgraded utilities we have oodles of power. Admittedly oodles is not the correct term. For you who want the technical term, Yesterday on a fairly cloudy October day we brought in 4 KWH of power to the bank. The fridge needs 800 watts for a 24 hour period.. We felt confident to plug-in our new fridge.

Our sons helped E bring the fridge down to the house. To be accurate, ours sons carried the fridge down the driveway and E held on to a corner of it for moral support. The fridge is a unique product. Specifically this one  Solar fridge. It is huge.

Part of the reason for its size is the insulation required for an off grid 24 volt fridge. Also, the internal space is double that of our other fridge. Nothing wrong with our other fridge. But with this one, I will be able to fill it with a trip to Costco and never have to go to town again this winter, which is after all, my ultimate goal in life. We sold our other fridge to island friends who have been using coolers and ice blocks.

So we plugged it in. Our new fancy expensive fridge filled with turkey leftovers and beer. And nothing. Not a shiver, not a brrr, nothing. At midnight that night, E and the boys were humming and hawing and rewiring.. our turkey and beer were moved to our neighbours fridge for safe keeping.

The next morning, still not so much as a cool draft from our new expensive fridge. So we spent the rest of the weekend with our beer in a cooler on the porch while we searched the google on what could possibly be wrong.

E, an accountant by trade has had to learn propane gas and solar panel installation among countless other skills… in order for me to live here. (Happy wife, happy life) He hadn’t yet tackled refrigeration installation..Living here you have to figure things out for yourself and if you can’t and your friends can’t, you go back to your drawing board.. I never worry because it always comes to him eventually. My job, as I saw it was to stay out of the way and hold the baby.

E took most of our family back to the ferry today. Our daughter is staying on to read and generally take a much needed break from her job in the downtown east side.. When E got back from town he tried one more thing.. one last idea.. and brrrrrrr it started.. the fridge came alive.. it is happy and chugging along content with the knowledge it will be well loved and filled to the brim.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing is

simple…. living here