Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Yup, this appropriately describes how I feel about this island and its beauty.

Last week we went "up island" to Tofino for a few days to participate in a local past time; storm watching. This time of year the winds blow pelting rain in all directions and the waves roar, tossing tree trunk sized logs onto the beach like matchsticks. This storm day is relatively benign yet the shore tells another story of crashing waves heaving heavy loads into the tree line rimming the sand and I'm awed by the untamed, fearsome beauty of nature.

The first night we walked MacKenzie Beach and were blessed with this magnificent sunset. I sat under the cloudless evening skies that graced our nights, watching shooting stars dance above as I played my drum to dream the dream forward.

Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre aka Kwisitis Visitor Centre at Wickaninnish Beach, Tofino - the centre is being redesigned to reflect the area's cultural and natural landscape. I could spend hours digging into the visible storage and interactive displays. There's still more to see but I'll save that for another visit. The restaurant offers a place to sit by the fire to dry off because you'll be drenched from your beach walk. You can enjoy light fare, warm drinks and treats, like we did, from a window seat - the perfect vantage point for storm watching.

This glistening, lovely totem welcomed us as we walked through the woods along the well-manicured trail leading to the beach, a short distance from the centre. Bear eats salmon as killer whale dives into his head and eagle just sits atop it all.

One of the many coves that dot the way.

Here's our vantage point from dog and family friendly Ocean Village Resort on MacKenzie Beach. The perfect location -  a 5 min drive into Tofino and a short drive the best surfing beaches on the island. The little kitchenette; cozy, well laid out space and most comfy bed ever makes one feel right at home! We headed out later in the day so that we could lounge around in the belly of our cedar cocoon, reading while listening to the waves, the rain on the roof and the wind. From our 2nd level perch we could see the beach and ocean beyond. A solitary swim interspersed with dips in the hot tub was my reward upon our return from the beach walk. Ah, the capping of a perfect day!

Another beautiful sunset lights our easy as we head home after visiting family in Campbell River.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sea lions barking & fresh bread baking

Tues Nov 5 - Wed Nov 6th

We're off to my friends' place in Maple Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island, about 90 minutes from Victoria. Though this isn't a huge distance to cover, we have to go "over the Malahat" a very scenic and often treacherous part of Hwy #1. You don't want to drive this stretch in inclement weather or the dark of night, so we are staying over night at their place. The last few times we've passed through it's been shrouded in fog but, when the sun shines its stunning scenic views are revealed and one feels blessed to be alive.

Our gracious hosts take us on a round trip boat tour from Maple Bay to Crofton. Midway we drop anchor in a sheltered bay to enjoy a picnic lunch onboard and watch porpoises and a pair of sea lions as they pass by. Though our hosts have navigated these waters for 10 years and the other guest has lived here for 16, these sightings still excite. We jump up and herd from window to window to witness their passage, spilling wine in the process. I swear I can hear the male sea lion snorting each time he breaks the surface of the water as they undulate with surprising speed and grace.

Our captain takes us to Crofton where sea lions hang out on the docks, log booms or anything else they choose. Their barks greet me when I step out on the deck.
These guys walk on the logs in the water like they're going for a stroll.
Logs are being loaded for transport and milling in China.
I was told that 10% of logs used to be shipped over but it has risen to about 30%
causing the closing of many local mills.
The "cloud factories" of Crofton.

Back at our friends' place, salt-sea-air refreshed, renewed and relaxed, we sit by the fire with our wine and share stories of our lives. All of us are transplants from Ontario; grateful to be able to experience the riches and magic of this place.

The next day Rod and I go to Cowichan Bay on our way back to Victoria. Our hosts told us, most enthusiastically, "You must go there. TRUE GRAINS the best bakery in the area. They use B.C. grown grain and you can watch them mill the flour onsite while you have your coffee and treat." So we did. Melt in your mouth shortbread for me, a pastry (the inspired creation of the day) for Rod and a bag full of bread, scones and cookies for our pantry.

Cowichan Bay is a little community of unique, independently owned shops which picturesquely frame the ocean and take you back to simpler times. In fact "in 2009 Cowichan Bay became North America's first Cittaslow community. Cittaslow communities are characterized by people who: take time to build community relationships, celebrate the community's unique history and traditions, promote craftsmanship and environmental stewardship, maintain the community's distinct character, and engage residents and visitors by sharing in high quality living."*

Fortunately for anyone travelling up island, this place, just off Hwy#1, is on the way.

*this info from Cittaslow Cowichan link found on True Grains website

Sunday, November 3, 2013


On Saturday I was reading through letters and short stories I'd written in the '70's and '80's and came across a piece called MOVING DAY in which I recounted launching into an unforeseen two and a half year venture as a house-sitter.

A synchronic event compels me to post this part of the story and here's why…

Yesterday I checked in to see what's been going on at AMAIA DREAMS' DREAM BOARDS as I'd been absent for quite a few months now. One of the members had started a new category called MAGICAL MOMENTS wherein she suggested we would, "have an ongoing thread where we could share positive things, like a moment of gratitude or delight over something or a little magical moment that made us smile."

I glanced through the comments on the first page and this one jumped out at me, "Mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy." These are lyrics from the song Mairzy Doats written in 1944 and much loved by my Mom.

As I was reading my story I wondered whether it was worth posting in my blog.

And then I read the comment in MAGICAL MOMENTS so here is an excerpt.

*       *       *
THE SET UP a summary -

A friend had helped me move out of the co-op house and took me to the house-sit. The owners were  out for the evening so we just dropped my belongings, stuffed into garbage bags, by the front door and headed out for dinner. When Sheib dropped me off, the house was in darkness and I had no idea where anything was. Basically I end up stumbling around, knocking things askew and swearing under my breath.

THE STORY from here -

"Shit!" I hop on my right foot, aiming all the while to grasp my left big toe with my left hand; the bags jostle on my back with a crinkling of plastic. The otherwise silent, still night is disturbed by the thumping of my feet and swearing. And then, giggling wafts down the hallway.

They're laughing at me. They're laying there in bed laughing at me, I am embarrassed by my clumsiness and lack of foresight to study the lay of the land before I'd headed out. No, they're not really laughing at me. They probably didn't even hear me come in. They're most likely having sex, sharing some sort of lovers' intimacy.

I'm just about to call out for some help with lighting when I trip over something at the bottom of the flight of stairs. As I try to keep from falling my hand hits a switch, turning on the light at the top of the stairway, welcoming me with its warm glow.

I trundle up the wooden stairs that creak with every footfall and make my way to "my" room.

Dropping the bags at the foot of the bed, fully clothed, I fall into its downy cushiness, falling into sleep moments later.

"Buckety coo, buckety coo…" the sounds of pigeons in the rafters above my head and the morning light streaming in wake me. I lay there, thrown back in time by the sound.

"No, they don't."

"Yes, they do. They sound exactly like that." And in a soft melodic voice my mother mimics, "Buckety coo, buckety coo. You just have to listen sometime. You'll hear it." She was telling me about her own childhood experience visiting an eccentric uncle who'd kept and trained carrier pigeons. Their chatter would waken her as she slept in a bedroom under the rafters of his home.

I thought she was pulling my leg. After all wasn't this the same woman who would sing, "Mare-zee-doats 'n doe-zee-doats 'n li'l lam-zee-die-vee. Kid-sel e-die-vee too woodn'-chew."

What the hell did that mean?

I think she sang it just to torment me until the day my ears finally deciphered, "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. Kids will eat ivy too. Wouldn't you?" and I smiled, delighted by the playfulness of words.

Laying here now, my ears confirm "buckety coo" as the official language of pigeon.


I had hoped to write a book (and make my fortune in the process) about my house-sitting misadventures; this was the opening chapter. Life happens while you're making other plans.