Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
But in my house it's cozy by the hearth.
We've been in this house seven years this past Halloween and it was only as this winter started approaching that we thought about getting a chimney sweep in to have a look. The chimney was clean and bare.
And so now let the coziness begin!
I spent this evening in front of the fireplace with a Terry Pratchett book and visions of a winter talking with friends in front of a lit fireplace.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Well, we're STILL going to Greece, but in our research we couldn't help but notice how tantalizingly close Egypt is.
Hey, in the world of ancient civilizations, they're practically just down the block from one another.
So here is a trip to Egypt that we're seriously considering. It's the same company we went to Africa and India with and therefore we'd get a discount. So, so tempting!
Yes, I got quite good at shambling around the house and moaning. No matter.
Last Saturday was Courtenay's first ever official Zombie Walk and I'm rather sorry that I was merely a spectator as this sort of thing obviously has great potential merit to be an Awesome Annual Cultural Event in this girl's book.
In no particular order, Things I Learned at the Zombie Walk:
* Canadian zombies may lurch menacingly down the sidewalk, but when they need to get across the street, they use the cross walk. Yay, zombies!
*For the vegetarian-inclined zombies out there, a cauliflower covered in fake blood makes a rather convincing brain. so no need to feel left out when your fellow zombies are slathering apart something more squishy.
* If you're a zombie dog-owner and you can train your doggie to play fetch with your own severed arm, that's extra points or something.
* Finally! a use for all that stuffy formal wear at the back of your closet! Zombies like to dress up when they eat out. Yeah, it may have a few stains...
* Zombies appreciate a good cheer-leader. "Give me a B! Give me an R! Give me an A! Give me an I!.." Well, you probably can figure out the rest. Zombies are a little bit single-minded.
* The sight of hordes of zombies apparently don't traumatize local children at all. One baby's mom had turned into a nasty pus-filled zombie and there he was all gurgling and happy in his carriage draped with black tulle.
* Zombies sometimes talk on cell-phones.
*Zombies seem like a fun crowd.
Monday, September 21, 2009
But sometimes things don't work out exactly as planned.
Our team was scattered to the winds: one friend on the team had emergency gall bladder surgery, others in the emergency room with him, another friend was hours away with a car that wouldn't start....it was one of those days where cleaning the beach falls way down the priority list!
But Jeff and I decided that we had already planned to do this thing---and the beach wouldn't clean itself after all..
Among the eighty pieces of garbage we removed from Gartley Beach:
* a shotgun shell casing
* a moldering piece of carpet
* umpteen beer cans
* miscellaneous pieces of metal and plastic
*tangles of twine and disintegrating rope
* a smashed pair of eyeglasses
* a piece of green house plastic
"You're taking a picture of me picking up garbage?" Jeff asked quizzically. Well, yes, I am.
Halfway down the beach we saw a lone figure pulling litter from among the rocks. It was Mike, Kim's brother! Hurray, somebody else had come for the clean-up! He couldn't believe all the garbage we'd found! He had himself acquired quite a large shopping bag's worth of styrofoam and disposable coffee cups.
It's funny--when we arrived we really wondered if the beach had any garbage on it at all. To the casual eye, the beach stretched pebbly and clean and was littered with nothing more than oyster shells.
I am remembering all the pristine-looking shorelines we boated by on our whale-watching trip last weekend, hoping that they were as clean and untouched as they looked, and knowing that probably just wasn't so.
So anyway, we were halfway through the part of the beach that Kim had signed us up for, when the heavens opened up and our warm and pleasant afternoon turned into a pounding downpour. We got wet so fast we might as well have rolled a little in the tide-pools. Water dripping down our collars, we decided that finishing the other half (from the access road down to the Trent river) was a job for another day.
There's probably (sadly) lots of garbage waiting for us still. So if anyone wants to join me on a sunnier afternoon....? I'd like to finish the job. Oh yes, and then go have dessert at the Kingfisher like we'd planned!
Monday, September 14, 2009
This was a little video I took near the end of the afternoon as we encountered a playful group of Pacific white-sided dolphins for the third time that day. There must have been at least forty of them, puffing and whistling and playing all around us, jumping and feeding and sliding under our boat to look up at us through the water with bright eyes that looked both intelligent and mischievous.
Seven years ago, for our tenth anniversary, Jeff and I rented a kayak near April Point Lodge on Quadra Island,and had the thrilling experience of an orca whale rocketing through the water past our little boat, its giant fin and broad shiny back glistening in the sun. I have no pictures of that, but that moment in time has been replayed over and over in my head.
Whales are just magical. When I see them in nature, I feel some tug on my heart that is hard to explain.
On Saturday, when the tail of a humpback whale broke the surface of the water before its deep dive, that moment will also be part of me forever. Nobody snapped a picture because sometimes all you can do is stare in wonder, caught in a moment, and then it is gone.I think a memory like this is one of the best anniversary presents ever.
Monday, September 07, 2009
There. I'd done it. I'd officially committed to renovating the Very Ugly Hidden Room that was our downstairs bathroom.
These are the after pictures. These are not fancy renovations--just some nice updates so I don't have to scream and lunge in front of house guests when they go to open the door. Fresh paint, new mirror and vanity, new light, new baseboard heater, new towel bar, new tiles.
It was a birthday present (from Jeff, because he did a lot of the work) but also to myself. It was one of those things pushed very far down the List of Things to Do that in an Ideal World Would Have Been done Long Ago.
Below is what it looked like before---pink plastic towel bar, afore-mentioned wallpaper, fake-wood vanity, bad lino, rusted radiator, unframed mirror, wicker kleenex box painted pink and covering hole in the wall. It was bad.
It's been like that for the six years we've lived here though, hidden away off the rec room, unused and unloved.
Here's the thing though. At the beginning of July, three things happened to make a change.
One A vow. I opened the door one day to take something out of the shower stall (used as storage space) and thought: "I am DOING something about this room. Soon!"
Two A phone call. A friend called me to tell me about free interior design advice being offered on a new local website. They were looking for "Ugly Rooms". My friend said she thought of my downstairs rec room and, you know, that awful bathroom I had. My friends..always thinkin' of me. :)
Three A Visitor. A friend who hadn't visited in a long while opened the door, and made a face, "Hey, I didn't know you had another bathroom...GAWD, it's UGLY!"
Three times is the charm! Fine, fine, it's ugly! Let the renos begin!
Below are pictures of the floor, before and after...
Anyway, it's not like an ugly basement bathroom defined my house. But it sure feels nice now that I can leave the door open.
All the clutter stored there has been disposed of too.
Friday, August 14, 2009
As I embark on my quest towards an emptier basement--- flying in the face of my SIMULTANEOUS quest to collect junk to sell for fund-raising-- I find myself with NINE bags of stuff to leave the house sitting in the basement. Stuff I can't flea-market or Craigslist. Stuff I can't possibly justify keeping. That's a lot of bags lined up in the basement waiting for the next CDA neighbourhood pickup--probably not until September. And I'll probably be filling more...
This afternoon I'm down to eight bags, having dropped a large load of shoes off at the thrift store. Out it's going, bag by bag, this holiday week *she vows to herself*
Like I said, this post was inspired by my friend who likewise posted pictures of her shoe collection online. "Wow", I thought to myself, "My friend sure does like shoes!" But apparently, um, I have a similar problem. Nothing like a picture or two to illustrate.
The Before picture shows all twenty-eight pairs of shoes I found in various places around the house. (Not even counting my snow boots.)
How is it possible that I have collected so many? Friends will attest I don't enjoy shopping for shoes, can't wear heels without hobbling myself, and will wear a pair of favourites until the sole is separating from the uppers--HAD to leave my old hiking shoes in Kathmandu for just that reason. It's a bit of a shocker for me that I am nevertheless, after reviewing all evidence, a horrible hoarder of shoes. Sigh.
But...after this month's shoe purge I am relieved to say I am now ELEVEN pairs lighter than before! Although I am for some reason STILL holding onto the pink Italian strappy shoes I wore painfully to the Crazy Ladies Tea Party--oh, the memories!
Jeff pulled all his shoes out too and similarly junked out. Total number of pairs: eleven (two not pictured as they were later discovered hiding in trepidation).
Well, one treat anyway. I'm planning on having a good week.
To start with, I got off work early and wandered down the lane to the blackberry patch and picked a little pail of sun-ripened yumminess.
The bushes are laden with green and red berries--the potential for a blackberry-filled freezer bounty is enormous this year. All the recent hot weather has made the bushes amazingly productive.
Wild strawberries are good, fresh raspberries are a favourite, but nothing is more tasty to me than a perfect blackberry.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
A month ago we were riding on a train from Seward to Anchorage! I can't believe this summer is going by so fast. And this hot weather is making me wish I was back in Alaska. Well, not in Anchorage. Maybe Skagway or Ketchikan though.
Anyway, below is the address to our Alaska trip photos on Photobucket. They are totally un-annotated, but I'll be posting notes on them later and stories here too. As soon as the temperature drops.
Heat. Making. Me. Unmotivated.
See the ice in the photo? Mmmmm...so, so chilly. :)
Alaska Photos June 2009
Saturday, July 04, 2009
One morning we got up early, braved the chill, and watched from the ship's deck as enormous chunks of ice calved from the Hubbard Glacier.....
The blue wall of ice stretched and towered, squeaking and creaking and rumbling constantly, sending little mini avalanches trickling into a sea already bobbing with ice. It sounds like a rifle shot mixed with thunder when something the size of a house breaks off and crashes into the ocean.
This is also my first YouTube video. :)
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Nothing like getting outside on a beautiful day, venturing through forest and meadow and creekside, discovering hidden trails...and, er, turning in circles while muttering darkly until your GPS unit decides to start picking up the signal correctly.
Yes, we are venturing into the hidden world of geo-caching.
There is probably more than fifty hidden caches within a few miles of our house, so today we set out for the nearby ones.
The first cache we found while ostensibly wandering (quite incorrectly) toward another cache. Once we realized we were in spitting distance (well, 500 feet or so) of it, we changed our target and soon had discovered a hidden trove of fishing lures (it's the hunt, not the prize, right?) tucked away in a little tupperware container in the hollow of some tree roots.
We went back to our first target, got on track, and found ourselves in a little park. The GPS swore up and down we were practically standing on top of a cache, but there were people about and we didn't feel like crawling through the leaves while other folks hovered. Also, it was too darn hot out to concentrate. Later this evening, we returned and found the little log book and pencil after some pondering on the subject of where, oh where could it be.
Third hunt took us through deer trails and serious brambles . Serious bush-whacking. This was the geocache that my dedicated geocacher friend, Kim, suffered many long scratches on her legs to find. Well, we didn't find it, although we stared at and prodded a long series of fallen tree trunks in the hope that something man-made might appear. Alas, not.
Well, two out of three ain't bad.
Monday, June 01, 2009
I'm feeling blissed out and serene right now, freshly back from a massage at my friend/co-worker's little studio.
The little cottage backs onto the forest, and as I lay there, so relaxed I was practically in liquid form, two deer walked right by the open window. Birdsong poured in, a duet with the soft Asian music playing.
I've been meaning to treat myself to this for a while now. It's funny how you can vow to make time for yourself, just yourself, and then somehow the months go by and making time to luxuriate is forgetfully pushed to the bottom of the list.
Mmmmm. Do not forget again.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The kitties are settling in...
Magee is the one on the right. They're a little hard to tell apart in this photo. :)
Magee is very, very affectionate and while she's not a replacement for Lestat, she is already making herself a very loved part of the household. She will sit on your lap for hours and rumble away in a very quiet purr.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Is Magee the cat for us, a companion for Colby and a new little creature to take into our hearts?
We don't know yet, but we've made an appointment to go see her tomorrow at the house she's being fostered at.
She's just over a year old and was a stray picked up as a dirty thin kitten from Hornby Island. She'd been living rough for a while the shelter people think. Her torn little ear speaks to that. Lestat had an ear like that-- he wasn't living rough but he was a bit of a scrapper in his youth.
She's apparently a bit handshy at first, but with a sweet personality. I hope there's a bond.
This is how we picked Colby---looking at pictures of local adoptable animals and making a list of possibles. When we met Colby there was an instant bond and we barely glanced at the other cats I'd selected on paper. She sort of threw herself at us, and from Magee's description it's doubtful we'll be greeted in the same way at first.
It's a big decision and I thought I'd wait much longer after Lestat was gone to go searching, but I am missing having a second cat in our household more than I thought. Not missing Lestat more than I thought (I miss him sure enough), but missing two cats in general as well. Two hopeful faces at breakfast time, two furry bodies warming the end of the bed, twice the trouble, twice the purring.
If Magee is not a match, as may happen, there will be others I know, but we both think she has an appealing little face and I'm a sucker for a hard luck story.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The crazed lamphrey eel tile below is what first drew my eye of course....
But there were Mexican clay pots, runestones, marbles, and plastic insects set into the concrete, slivers of stone and glass glittering in the sunshine: the effect was enormously appealing and I found myself mentally evaluating the contents of my own personal odds and ends for a reincarnation in something similar. Recycled debris as art at the entranceway to one's home: your neighbours will know you're not boring.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Gave me great ideas for using bricks to floor my patio and the artful use of screens and lattice work and climbing vines to create the feel of outdoor rooms. Also liked the use of mosses and woolly thymes among stones.
This garden made me envision mass plantings of bluebells under my own trees. Thousands of bluebells. I loved its nut-tree orchard and blossoming trees.
I was happily gifted at this stop with a hankie full of white Star of Bethlehem flowers and bulbs. I was assured that they would soon explode in my garden everywhere and I may yet regret taking them, but they looked lovely here.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Here's a pic of Lestat's grave in the ferny-mossy-cool-and-shady corner of my garden.
Thanks all for the hugs and visits and phone calls and comments in the past week. Nice to know other people understand that a pet passing away is not an easy thing.
I also want friends to know that I have come to the peaceful conclusion that it was the right decision to put him to sleep. I think making the decision and making the appointment was the hardest thing. Followed only by the mental turmoil and re-visiting the decision over the next days that followed before we actually went to the vet. I think I did almost all of my grieving before his death and it's heavy work and an unhappy place to be. My eyes felt too heavy from so much crying.
But last Thursday, the fateful day, Lestat woke me up at about three in the morning, nuzzling my chin and cuddling into me, and I felt this curious, almost physical sensation of peace about what I'd decided. Hard to explain but since then, even through the vet appointment, and through his burial in a catnip-lined grave, I do feel a sense of okay-ness even through my sadness.
And it was a very nice thing, too, that the weekend right after this all happened was both the Denman Island Garden tour and the local Mother's Day garden tour. Two days of wandering through flower gardens is good for the melancholy. I will be posting pictures of the gardens soon.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I've just added a post tonight to my Spider on the Road blog. I've been wanting to share more about my trip to India and Nepal for a while, so as I re-read my journals and organize my thoughts about that trip, I'll be posting there.
Hope you enjoy my pictures and meanderings. I tend to journal a lot when I travel, and later, much as I enjoy the beautiful art and trinkets I buy on a trip, it is always my journal that I treasure most.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
It had some rough edges and a lot of the silly slapstick humour that would probably have my friend Tai muttering, "I'll just go wait out in the car...", but it was fun and me and Jeff and my mom had a good night out.
In other news:
1. I spent an enormously enjoyable hour or two in my big round papsan reading chair in the sunshine today. Face turned up, eyes closed, soaking that feeling of winter's-over up. This was the first time this year I felt good about putting a stick of furniture outside. I'd tell you what I was reading, but it's five or six different books at the moment. Wait, no, I will tell you, but I'll wait till I'm done at least one of them.
2. I joined Twitter today, although I'm not sure if I'll actually use it.It's a social website which is like mini-blogging--you can only type 40 or so characters in a post. So no excuse for not having time to post? Nahhh....probably wouldn't work that way anyway. Well anyway, my address there is http://twitter.com/Spideyjen.
I think I was partially goaded into checking out the website because some newscaster flippantly commented the other day that if you're over twenty-five, you've probably never even heard of Twitter.
3. Thursday, we got free tickets to a Toronto Film Festival movie that was playing for just one night here, and I though I'd pass along a movie recommendation because I thought it was really a sweet, thoughtful, thought-provoking film. It's called One Week, and I had second thoughts when I read the film synopsis --- it's about a man who discovers he has a terminal illness---- anyway, he decides to go travelling by motorcycle across Canada from Toronto to Tofino in search of...well, a lot of things---from inner peace to the world's biggest hockey stick, and I guess I was in exactly the right mood for a movie that was funny and serious all at the same time.
4.There's an enormous bright ring around the moon tonight. Absolutely gorgeous.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less.
'"Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.
'"Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it. Amen."'
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Hey, why AREN'T I taking a helicopter to the grocery store?!
Actually, my evening does not feel dull--I'm playing video games with friends and curling up with home renovation books. Relaxing. Comfortable. Aaahh.
Besides, even if I'm not having an awesome adventure right-this-second, I AM pretty happy that we just finalized our holiday plans today---travelling by cruise up the Inside Passage to Alaska this June! And if that's not quite as exotic as some of our past trips, I'm very okay with that too. I'm reveling in the potential excitement factor of having a hot tub and spa on board my boat. :)
(by the way, you'll probably have to click on the dinosaur cartoon to read it...unless you already have a magnifying glass at hand)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A few days ago my kitchen was screamin' Spanish yellow, immediately nicknamed "Wowie-shazam" a colour which I had always wanted to splash on a wall and did so about eighteen months ago.
(It's seen here with a wind-chime, currently one of my many Craigslist fund-raising knick-knacks....five bucks...anyone?)
It's a gorgeous colour which shouts out loud. A colour which refuses to be subdues. A vivid wake-up wake-up WAKE-UP colour which greets you in the morning in no uncertain terms.
And when the sun falls on it...mmmm...nice.
Alas, here on the west coast, the sunshine avoids my windows for seeming months at a time, and lately that colour has felt oddly cold and industrial--more "Bob the Builder" than Mediterranean sunshine.
So, no worries, it simply means it's time to paint the walls again.
My mother says I'm like an Auntie Mame, painting the walls a different colour as her mood changed.
I don't know who Auntie Mame might be, but I can fondly identify. It's funny because the lady who lived here before me was also a serial-painter: I saw my potential new kitchen at three different house showings before I bought (over the course of two years), and viewed this room in THREE different colour schemes. Pink--ugh. Blue--slightly less ugh, but I was still mentally changing the colour. Then, the day we sat at her kitchen table signing the real estate forms, I couldn't help but notice that the walls were now coloured like a cantaloupe with a crazy green and white plaid thing going. (Note: I actually lived with it and, perhaps oddly enough, liked it enough to keep it like that for a good long while).
The colour I chose is called Belgian Sweet, a cozy chocolate brown that I am currently enjoying very much, although for a while during the painting process my colour scheme resembled an enormous bumblebee.
It's a delicious earthy colour, and the choice was deeply influenced by a photo of my kitchen that my friend Pol sent me a long while back (back when my kitchen was orange actually). In that photo, she digitally changed all my wall colours to deep dark ones (as well as throwing in new counter-tops and cabinets to boot), and I quite liked the look.
After a lot of deep meditation sessions in the paint sample sections of the local hardware stores, I almost chose a sage green colour but since my living room is red I thought I should probably avoid looking like Christmas all twelve months.
P.S.Here is the infamous Auntie Mame, circa 1958 , played by Rosalind Russell. As well as both liking to change decors, we also both apparently appreciate a good flamboyant hat.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I don't write on this blog nearly enough anymore, and so, good readers, I know there are probably not many of you who will read this that I don't see quite often already, but if I haven't given you a chance to sign my petition, let me know, and I'll have a pen and a nice cup of tea for you. :)
By the way, that's yours truly, in the upper right hand corner of that little photo collage above--that's not my number above, but if you want more information on Mac Harb's bill to end the seal hunt, you could not speak to a person more dedicated to helping animals.
Cheers, everybody! (I promise to write more often if y'all bug me more about it). :)
Sunday, February 01, 2009
So I've been busy lately with a little fund-raising goal of mine. I love goals, that feeling of focus, that brain-storming of ways to get to what you want to do. Truth is, I feel a little lost unless I want something that feels possible, but just a little out of reach at the moment.
Hmmmm...lesseee...there is a billion cents in $1 million dollars. There are 20 million nickels and 10 million dimes in $1 million dollars. Clearly, if I'm nickel and diming my way to fortune it might take a while to make a million dollars.
However, right at this moment in time, fresh from my visit to Childhaven in Nepal, I'm only concentrating on raising the money for a very specific goal: my friend Hritika's education fund.
I figure that six thousand dollars will go a long way in Nepal towards helping her, and although I don't actually know what the final amount of money she will need to get through school, I figure this is a contribution that I can commit to. And I know it will make a difference. I love that.
Right now, I'm telling everyone I know about this goal because that is one way I know to make something happen. Mostly, right now, I am asking people for donations of junk and stuff that I can sell on Craigslist and in garage sales because that is such a comfortable way for me to raise money by now. I've been doing it to fund my travel since my first trip in 1999.
My base goal is to raise one hundred dollars a month this way to put aside for Hritika: twelve hundred dollars a year. So far, so good: I made $132 selling stuff in January that would probably have gone to the landfill otherwise. Everything was five bucks or under and I STILL made my goal and then some.
Since she has only just turned sixteen , I figure that by the time she is eighteen years old, I will have enough put aside to get her started JUST from doing that.
But my real hope (positive thinking here) is that serendipity will come along and help me out. It already has actually. Twice this past month. And one thing led to another.
The first thing that happened was that my father woke up one night from a Compelling Dream telling him that a certain piece of valuable but never-seen or worn jewelery currently residing in a safe deposit box should be sold and the money given to Hritika's family. And he's decided to DO just that.....
To say that my jaw nearly hit the floor when my mother told me the news is an understatement. WOW. Really. (You gotta know my dad...)
And THEN, the following day, full of joy and uplifted by my parents' generosity, I told the story of my dad's dream to a co-worker.
Behind me, a voice said "That's it! I've just had an epiphany!" I turned around and there was a dear sweet person from work who was mulling over what to do with an expensive ring from an ended relationship. "I'm going to sell it and give the money to the Hritika fund", she declared.
And she is! Later, I went to her and asked her if she was sure. "Yes", she said. "This is the right thing to do with it. Sometimes you get a flash of intuition and you just know..."
I am just overwhelmed. :)