Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Shiela Stops in at the Laundromat

Shiela and Frank taking a well deserved break
Laundry day at the laundromat makes me feel like a student again. I toss sheets, towels, gotchies and other assorted apparel into the washer, throw in the detergent and take off for one of any the 6 cafés within the radius of the block (though there weren't' such an assortment anywhere to choose from in the '70's). Today I worked on my Spanish homework but last week, that was a different story.

I don't usually like hanging around laundromats. You're uncomfortably crammed into the spare chairs butted arm to arm against each other, so close that you invade another's space no matter how hard you try and make yourself small…and I'm 4'10" tall and around 100 lbs.

People talk to themselves.


Sometimes it's me, though I try to be mindful.

Though talking to one's self is perfectly normal when done in the confines of one's own home, one comes across as just plain weird when you engage yourself in conversation in public. I know. I give "those" people a wide berth.

People who frequent laundromats come from all walks of life.

Some, like us, are renting places with inadequate laundry facilities - meaning amongst other priorities they are lacking a full service café nearby.

Many laundromatophiles in Victoria are travellers passing through who barely speak or read English. And since no 2 types of washers or dryers operate the same way anywhere I thank God for universal body language which I've used to demonstrate: how much change is needed and what it looks like, where the laundry detergent/liquid goes and the very precise sweet spot to whack with one's fist in order to spur some of the washers into action.

And then there are the dishevelled types like Frank who look like they came out from under a rock. I tend to avoid those too. To be precise, Frank could have come out from under a bush in Beacon Hill Park at 7 a.m. that morning (Here's a little known fact - people are allowed to camp from 7p.m. to 7a.m. in Beacon Hill Park but they have to pack up camp during the day leaving no trace of their presence).

I know this because his dog introduced me to him.

Seven year old, German Shepherd, Shiela lay on a comfy mat placed by the all to close chairs, keeping an eye on Frank as he sorted his laundry. The cluster of chairs was pretty crowded so off to the café I was heading when I came across Frank's gear and asked him to tell me his story.

Franks walks his bike with Shiela at his side
Basically he's walking to make Shiela known for being the first dog to walk across Canada to prove that anyone can achieve their goals no matter what the challenge and if he dies before she does his hope is that her fame will land her a loving home.

Frank has prostate cancer.

Rather than endure chemo and ingest medications he's chosen to walk with her and be supported by the grace of God and the kindness of strangers.

Read about his amazing story here - WALKING THE DOG ACROSS CANADA - (CFJC News) where you will also see how to support Shiela's journey and Frank's dream and you'll access his blog - Shiela's Cross Country Trip. If you can't access his blog from this link, copy the link from the article WALKING THE DOG ACROSS CANADA and paste it into your browser as I had difficulty accessing it any other way.

As a dreamer myself I can't help but support Frank and Shiela's dream. Blessings to you Frank and all the best to you and Shiela on your journey may God go with you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Life Lines

© Nance Thacker 1984
click on image to enlarge
The weekend has found me in a reflective mode. In my ongoing quest to de-clutter and simplify my life I've been going through my "stuff". Actually, not really my stuff, rather memories of the lives of others recorded in letters from family and friends that I'd received during my early years in Victoria.

I've carried boxes, filled with these letters from the '70's and 80's back and forth across the country and I think it's time to let them go, but not before reading them once more.

My sister-in-law, Di, and I were talking via g-mail phone the other day, marvelling at how technology keeps us connected in so many ways. Today there's: g-mail phone, i-phone favourites that allow fee free calling, Face Book, Skype, Face Time, texting, What's App, Tweeting, e-mailing and I'm sure there's a whack of stuff out there I've never even heard of. Communication is immediate and, for the most part, glitch free.

I don't buy that technology is isolating us. Face Book is where the Dream Team (my peers from dream teacher training I and II living all over the world) meet, share our dreams, inspire and further each other's education in dreams. Technology is my life line to friends and family living afar.

Back then though "snail" mail was pretty much all that we had that was affordable. Daily, I'd look for word from "home". Every letter received was like a big hug.

While I was out here living the life of a struggling artist/yogi, my friends' lives were moving through major transitions: marriages, home ownership, "real" jobs and careers, births, raising children, illness, deaths, and all the financial and family responsibility that goes with the territory. Others were studying and or travelling abroad: hiking, bike trekking and living with "friends" they'd made along the way - to be honest, I envied them the most.

Though our lives were so different, family and friends were supportive of my aspirations; often asking how the cartooning was doing. My younger sister, in letters from the mid '80's told of meeting 2 women in the Maritimes who knew of, and followed, my work in Monday Magazine - that thrilled me!

It got me looking through my cartoons and this one popped out as it pretty much summarized my life experiences at that time. No, I didn't have a meat cleaver thrown at me, but the crazed cook (and inspiration for the "chef" in the cartoon - he made Gordon Ramsay look like a pussy cat) at the Fat Cat Café a 24hr diner on lower Yates Street did threaten me with a knife while I was on duty once. Yup, life was different back then.

Anyway, that's another story…

What will I do with the letters? I'm mailing them back to the authors with a letter of appreciation and thanks for all their love and support over the years. They have no real idea how wonderful it felt for me, living on my own in my own world, to receive these life lines from home. But they are filled with their memories so, maybe when they read what their younger selves recorded they can reflect and appreciate their life's journey too.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Island Girl's A1 Tour

Christmas holidays were a wonderful whirlwind filled with family, food, friends and fun so I'm starting the year feeling particularly blessed.

We got a chance to play tour guides for our friends escaping the sub zero temperatures and snow of Montreal. They wanted to chill…they came to the right place. Most evenings were spent vegging in front of the TV after a day exploring downtown Victoria and surrounding areas. The weather was with us so we got a chance to show them Victoria at its winter best; moderately damp, filled with vibrant hues of greens and lush landscapes. A day of rain in the middle of their visit allowed us all to kick back at home, a welcome break in an otherwise packed schedule.

We wanted to give our guests a sampling of the best this area has to offer; an overview of life on the island. The last day of 2013 we motored up to Jordan River, with a stop at French Beach where we witnessed these California Seals playing in the ocean. This was such a gift bearing future memories for all of us.

We planned to eat at the restaurant across the road from the beach at Jordan River which would afford an unobstructed view, only to find the restaurant closed for the season. So we back tracked to Point No Point which was open for business and offered warming soups on the menu. Our taste buds were delighted and stomachs soothed as we gazed out upon the stormy sea far below. Kathy was so taken by this place that she claimed it as her own with plans to stay there on their next visit.

The view from our table at Point No Point Resort's dining room
Point No Point delighted her almost as much as the houseboat community down by the Wharf in Victoria. "People REALLY live here?" she kept asking. It was something out of a children's book she said, amazed that people could really live this kind of life.

The house boat community, scene from earlier visit as I didn't have my camera with me  this time
A perfect sun-filled day allowed us to show them the view from the Malahat on our way to Cowichan Bay and one of my favourite bakeries, True Grain Bread, where we snacked on pastries of our choice and a hot, aromatic coffee. Cowichan Bay is bigger than it looks. It's worth peeking into nooks and crannies and following the signs that point down to the water's edge. Below the street level shops there exists an active artisan community comprised of studios and shops. Kathy and I enjoyed talking with the owner/artist/painting teacher of Tangerine Dream Gallery and Studio and learning about the artists behind the works displayed within.

A typical, lightly drizzly day, though colder than usual didn't deter us from showing them the Kinsol Trestle. The hike was longer than I remembered from my first visit. As I approached the trestle I realize that we'd come at it from the other end before and that the trail extends 4 km in one direction, 15 in the other (Note to self: perfect for biking on milder days) and is part of an extensive trail system.

The tour was complete when this most spectacular sunset graced us as we drove along Dallas Road after viewing the city, the island, the strait, islands and mountains beyond from a perch on Mt Douglas. The perfect end to a perfect day…