seemingly within reach

December 14th. Eleven days to Christmas in the god awful year of 2020 with a puppy at her feet, an old woman’s thoughts turn to the summer ahead and the bounty she will welcome from her garden.

The most frustrating part of living in the townhouse ten years ago, in our brief attempt at a simple life, was having no reason to pore through seed catalogues in the winter. No reason to plan a new garden bed, no reason, really, to dream. I hated it!

Every fall, I keep notes of the successes and failures of my summer’s garden. I make mention of ideas for the next year. Thoughts like “what about a Camelia next year?” and ” Plant more Daffodil bulbs!” have been mentioned as well as the more insistent “DO NOT PLANT TURNIP SEEDS” are found on the pages of my garden journal. Last summer, for the ninth year in a row, I wrote “less tomatoes and no more zucchini!”.

I ordered my seeds today. Lots and lots of seeds from a place in the Maritimes, Vesey’s. They are expensive but I have been unhappy with West Coast Seeds and miserably disappointed with Saltspring Island seeds in the past. It can’t hurt to give these guys a try and save half of them for the next year to mitigate the costs. There are five different types of tomatoes, some herbs, onions, carrots, cucumber, peppers, potatoes, and asparagus. There is lettuce and spinach, and peas. There are absolutely no zucchini.

I will try growing potatoes this year in the “potato bags” I have ordered on line. There is no room in the garden beds for them and it is always fun to try something new. I imagine you are asking yourselves how I am going to start all of these vegetables seeds in the spring with no greenhouse.

This brings me to E’s new winter project. As you remember, he built a greenhouse a few years ago which he wasn’t happy with and never really finished. Then a tree landed on it and well, yadda yadda yadda there is a beautifully poured concrete pad just begging to have a greenhouse on it. With all that is happening in the world it seems prudent to make sure we have plenty of fresh food coming from our garden again this summer. Fortunately, we are going to have all the water we will need to make sure the garden will be a success.

A lot of the supplies we need for a greenhouse are already here and waiting to be reused and the order is in for the other lumber we need. It isn’t urgent. The majority of the seeds don’t need to be planted until March but I would really like to try growing some lettuce in the winter.

I have always loved the idea of a garden bursting with beautiful flowers but, living here, I have grown to appreciate the joy found with the flavours and convenience of home grown vegetables. I expect to put more effort into the deck garden this summer also but that will be a conversation we can have in the spring.

The knowledge that I will actually have the water I need to make my garden plans come to fruition is exciting for me. It may be winter outside but, here in my chair with a nice glass of Pinot Noir in my hand, surrounded by seed catalogues and greenhouse plans, summer is inside and

seemingly within reach

Happy home, Shanty

It takes a long time to get over the loss of a pet. I remember thinking when my childhood dog died that I would never, ever own a dog again ‘cause it hurt too much when he died. I have since that day, in 1978, loved and lost eight dogs. Most of them Cocker Spaniels.

When E’s dog, Bacardi, died he wouldn’t consider replacing her for a very long time. Eventually he was ready and almost immediately we were able to adopt Piper. When Sami died two years ago I was heart broken and never imagined I could start again with any one new. Saying goodbye is just so hard. Why sign up for the heartache? But the heart heals.

This spring I felt I was ready but worried, briefly, that maybe I was getting too old. This of course was just nonsense. My Mom was seventy when she adopted a dog and when he died at thirteen she got another one and they also spent thirteen years together. Unless things go terribly wrong, I expect to live as long as my mother. I put my name on the waitlist with the same breeder as Piper’s family.

With covid loneliness, stay at home workers, and a non- existent pipeline of Mexican strays, there is a big demand for puppies in 2020. A big demand, limited supply, and the expected subsequent increase in cost. But still I was ready, even if we had to wait. We waited for six months and spent more than we have to spend but life is too short to spend it without a dog at your side.

This pandemic isn’t going anywhere soon. The first vaccine to roll out is not safe for heart transplant patients so that means we will be waiting til the second or third or ? We have nothing but time on our hands. Safe to say it is unlikely E and I will ever travel again. That is okay with us as we live in paradise. Our travel money is better spent on the warmth and love of another puppy.

We can grow a lot of our own food. Our pantry is full and I just bottled thirty more red and thirty more white. We can safely stay out of everyone’s way on our 2.5 acres until it is safe for life to resume to normal. We consider ourselves more than fortunate to be where we are while the world fights this fight. There was only one little thing we were missing. I needed a puppy for my lap.

But what to name it? We wanted a girl and the only girl name in a Mark Knopfler song is Juliet. Unless we gave up buying fuel for the boat to afford a little boy puppy to name Romeo, Juliet seemed an odd name to choose.

In my search for Mark Knopfler lyrics on the google they likened some of his music to sea shanties. I searched the meaning of shanty and one is, of course, a song sung while sailors worked and the other is a house built from borrowed or spare bits. If not our house, certainly our bunkie fits that description.

I introduce to you the latest addition to our

happy home, Shanty

2015 bears repeating

I don’t often reprint old blog postings but we have a lot of new readers these days and today, in particular this post from 2015 bears repeating.


We have all had those nights. Lots of beer in the fridge and a group of new friends with no where pressing to be. They sit in a living room with the fire crackling, talking, reminiscing, telling stories.. Getting to know each other… Some times the stories prove how small the world can be with shared experiences, or unknown commonalities or sometimes the stories prompt even crazier coincidences.

We had a night like that in December of 1980. I was 23 and played on a women’s soccer team. E moved into a house in Point Grey with two of the women on the team. Our coach, newly arrived from Liverpool was with us that night. E was still unpacking his belongings. His entire personal worth at the time was a five poster king size water-bed, a stereo and 450 record albums sorted alphabetically in red milk crates. Jan was from Toronto, Brigitte was on a student visa from Ireland. There were five of us in the living room watching E set up his music.

When E has had a few to drink he likes to take his records out and play favorite songs from one album at a time, like a DJ. He had had a few to drink. The evening progressed, the fire burned, the music continued and the stories more nostalgic. Perhaps there was some smoke in the air.. Our coach spoke of how in his teens he was a bouncer at a club in Liverpool when the Beatles would play on a Saturday night. Talk continued of our favorite Beatle, our favorite song and of course, the night they first appeared on Ed Sullivan. That prompted a conversation about the Paul McCartney conspiracy. E pulled out Revolution 9 and played it backward. “turn me on dead man” and Strawberry Fields Forever where you can purportedly hear John Lennon say “I buried Paul”….. E took requests and played all of our favorites  Eventually all songs were listened to on most of the albums (E has them all) and we fell asleep around 5 AM dreaming of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds…

The next morning we stumbled into the kitchen, poured our coffees and turned on the radio to hear that John Lennon had been shot dead in front of the Dakota at 11:15 pm (8:15 our time) the night before.  

It still gives me chills….

Is also full

Gorgeous sunny day here today, flat calm, nine degrees. Lovely.

My wine glass is full, again. After an eighteen day visit, our granddaughter has now gone home to her parents who apparently felt eighteen days was plenty. Her family had isolated to enable her visit.

We don’t really drink when we are in charge of our little treasure. I feel that if her parents are going to go to the trouble to isolate to safely share her with us, it is prudent to be the best guardians we can be. But our little sweetie is gone now, the wine is poured and I can write again…..

With all of the sunshine we had today, I was able to get started on a quilt I need to finish before Christmas. With quilting, I need to iron and I prefer to iron with the sun shining on our solar panels. E took advantage of the good weather to fill the wood pile at the door.

Normally the island is almost empty at this time of year. Those who haven’t already gone south for warmth would be gone soon to see family for Christmas. But the island today is relatively packed. We go for our walks and there is traffic on the road and smoke coming out of the neighbour’s chimneys.

Yesterday, one of the five children who live on the island was celebrating his 6th birthday, and ten cars, one bike and a fire truck showed up for a covid-safe parade past his house. It was so much fun to see how happy it made him. One of the participants said to me that she hadn’t been this excited to participate in something in weeks. The whole event lasted 30 minutes. Doesn’t take much these days to make us all happy.

There is talk now of having a Christmas boat parade. The idea was floated and thirteen boats have committed so far. I imagine us all in our decorated boats safely drinking grog and shouting greetings across the waters.. It could be very pretty and, if popular, perhaps next year we could do it with an actual after party.

Covid 19 requires us all to celebrate safely in more creative ways with pre – visit grandchild quarantines, car parade birthday parties and boat parade Christmas celebrations. We are all just doing what we need to do to feel safe and not alone.

When my granddaughter crawled up into my arms every afternoon for eighteen days for a snuggle, it would turn into a two hour nap. I would sit still and just stare at the wonder of her. E found me like that on more than one occasion and I suggested he remind me, when I am missing my family over the coming difficult months, of those moments.

So, in summary, I am grateful to my son and daughter-in-law for sharing their daughter with us, I am so proud of our community for stepping up to make a little boy happy, and I am impressed with the neighbours who are willing to plan a safe way to share joy with island friends at Christmas.

It isn’t just my wine glass, my heart is also full

In the fridge

There is just a little housekeeping to mention today. For the record there are two milestones. Well, one milestone and one event.

We had our first snow on the local mountains on Tuesday. A few years ago it only lasted a couple of days. I suspect we will see a lot more of it this year. Fine by me. We aren’t going anywhere.

Years ago I gave up knitting when they took most of my wrist bones out. But I have all of this gorgeous wool sitting unused in a bag in my closet and thought I could maybe handle the weight of a child’s toque. I gave it a go this week and although the result was nothing fancy it was fun to do. One toque done for granddaughter and now I am going to try a fisherman’s style hat for E. The trick, I have found, is to put the needles down and rest for an hour when my hands begin to resemble a claw.

Without any witnesses to see us, we have fallen into the most juvenile of routines. We live on, as we call it, Edmonton time. What it is, in fact, is an inability to physically accept the recent time change. Dinner early, bedtime really early and then we wake up crazy early. In our defence, when it gets dark at 4:30, it is hard not to think it is time to put our work down and eat.

We highly recommend Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. We finished it in two nights. Now we are watching season two of Undercover. Nothing much else of interest to mention.

Oh the milestone? You want to know the milestone?

On November 13 at 7 am in the god awful year of 2020, after a wild and stormy night of wind and rain, we finally filled all of our water tanks. We have 8000 GALLONS OF WATER !

As promised, we won’t need to talk about water anymore.

(Pause for applause)

And with that, I have pulled out all of my gardening books and seed catalogues to plan my new and improved summer garden. It will be a lovely halibut dinner to celebrate tonight. The champagne is

in the fridge

to be happy

Windy, windy, windy. Consistent strong winds for three days this weekend have made the house a little harder to heat. Not so much harder, but more work.. Can’t just light the fire in the morning and forget about it like we often do. Our afternoon sunshine often negates the need for adding more wood. With winds, at times gusting 65k straight at us since Thursday, we have needed to keep the fire roaring. It is time to start using the arbutus we have set aside for the colder days.

If he could be any closer he would be inside the stove..

My son and granddaughter have found a way to visit us safely this month. We will likely have an opportunity to see all of our kids, if not on Christmas itself, at least in December. There is a plan in place to soon bring a new puppy into our home. We have finally sealed every possible mouse access route into our house. There are many reasons to be happy today.

Christmas won’t ever be the same, now that we live here, and we will continue to have to celebrate many occasions without our family as long as the virus continues. With the return of respect for science to the American government, I believe the chances of a coordinated defeat of the virus for our common good is now possible. Again, many reasons to be happy today.

I saw the weirdest thing the other day. Seven sea lions lined up about fifteen feet out from the cliff below the Wilsons and as a unit swam toward the rocks. Then, they would flip over and swim back out. Kind of like swimming lengths in a pool. I watched for more than an hour before I realized that they were herding small fish to the wall and then eating them… The fish would fly through the air trying to escape.

Even after nine years looking out my window I am still seeing new things on the nature channel.

Although the wind is still blowing, the sun is shining a little brighter today. There is optimism in the air and many reasons

to be happy