A Prairie winter came to the west coast

snow boots 2017Snow Boots. Now I know it doesn’t look like a lot of snow here but believe me, we had snow ! It was well over one foot, two feet in some areas. Don’t laugh, that is impressive here in our non mountainous areas, it was beautiful. I can’t understand why I didn’t take any photos of it as it was blanketing my wee island, but I got a few before the final thaw.

Vancouver on the other hand was suffocating in it. Vehicle travel was pure and utter debilitating chaos. We just are not accustom to this degree of white rain.

Crab claw 2017

 

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One of our chickens. Okay it’s a quail, scavenging some fallen bird seed from the feeder.

Bob shoveling the dock 2017

Clearing the dock to our boat was a good work out…for Bob. Twice. We dock at the very end, and with the repetitive freezing rain, partial thawing, then more snow proved walking to the boat was a tad treacherous during those weeks.

Today all is green again. I worked out in the yard the entire day yesterday and it felt so good sensing spring feels oh so near ~

Quarantine

There are always two sides to every decision, pro’s and con’s, and when my 91 year old mom had to move into a full care facility last summer it was no different. In her new place she would be cared for 24 hours a day and my sister and I could feel a little less concerned about her being alone on her own at night, the upside to group residential care. All of the stress we all went through over the last few years with our mom was greatly lessened, although it was difficult to see her lose her independence. But mom did adapt to her new surroundings with her sense of humor intact, and some of her personal belongings to make her room quite homey.

With the winter season all residents got a flu shot and even still 12 folks came down with the virus, my mom one of them. The procedure for that is lock down. Fortunately my mom has a cell phone so at least we could keep in daily communication with her while she’s confined to her room.  She greatly misses our thrice weekly drives and lunch outings and my sisters evening visits, but she knows it’s a matter of time to get over it and soon enough would no longer be in her words Hog Tied. It’s into the third week.

Now today we get news that the doctor took a swab from my mom to check on her persistent cough and although she feels good and has energy they tell us she has  HA-MRSA, a.k.a. the super bug. She has been fighting urinary tract infections for several years in which antibiotics were frequently prescribed and then with this last flu outbreak was given more antibiotics. Is it any wonder?

Enter the down side of group residential care. It’s a virulent soup for the prone. When she lived on her own she was never sick.

So now it’s serious lock down but only for her. The other residents are free to come out of their rooms. She is highly contagious, the nurses must “suite up” to care for her we’re told. We’re told it will be one month before they can lift her quarantine, even if the new antibiotics seems to work. The only way to visit her is to stand outside her window and have our conversations over our cell phones.

But that is better than not seeing her at all.

 

 

 

Food Glorious Food

winter veg hash 2016

I enjoy food, and eating well and to eat well you pretty much have to make it yourself, and not to mention it’s more economical to cook at home. Fortunately I enjoy cooking and baking, and have had some training in these areas. Thought I would encourage you to check out my food blog Boca Delicia  click on the blog name or on my side bar to visit.

poached egg over tuscan ham, red peppers and hash browns with chimcicherri sauce

It’s still a “young” blog and in development as I work to designate blocks of time for recipe research and preparation and set a regular cooking/posting schedule, which is my biggest challenge even though I cook everyday to feed myself and Bob. I tend to not use recipes, along with very little meal planning, using what I have on hand and that isn’t the best formula to convey recipes to others!  The exception of course is Baking- there isn’t much room in that area for improv, recipes must be followed and because of that it is easier for me to share them since everything is already itemized!

Almond Biscotti 2106

I have a spontaneous nature, so to stop and itemize everything is well- lets just say I know my weak areas. I hope you don’t mind that I peppered this blog with food shots from my other blog but a little taste won’t hurt ~ Salute!

Chocolate Spice Cookies 2016

Blue Monday

Parksville Beach 2016

Why is that one Monday delegated as Blue in the middle of the month? Is it assuming that those of us in this hemisphere are dragging our depressed, beleaguered sorry asses through yet another blah day of malaise and dreary existence? Yanking up our drooping heads to remind us that- Ha see?  There are STILL sixteen days left in this freakishly long dark month!

Thanks but no thanks.

I am the glass half full girl. I shall reappoint that Monday to Yay Monday. Hey, there’s only sixteen days left till January is over! And like magic…

I admit January is not my favorite winter month. We have left behind those lovely but unusually  clear, cold, sunny days we had in the past weeks, and although we have gained one half hour of daylight, since we have entered into our normal Vancouver January weather blanket of soggy, wet, and grey it’s hard to tell. Upside, I am on the West coast so I don’t have to wait till spring thaw three months down the road.

I have come to obsessing about the weather, a Canadian past time-or requirement still not sure, and I have confirmed that I prefer dry, clear, cold winters to grey, damp wet ones.

Optimism prevails here though and yesterday there was a beautiful break in the sky with a bluster of balmy wind that broke the clouds apart, revealing a rainbow that stretched over the Strait of Georgia like an encouraging nod that spring is only weeks away. Weeks away my friend ~

Lets go Ice skating, I said, it’ll be fun!

I’ve made a decision to embrace my Canadian winters, to enjoy “where I live” instead of getting all mopey about not being somewhere else warm and sunny for January.

There is plenty to do here in the winter. There is skiing up at Mount Washington which is an hour and half drive away. Downhill doesn’t appeal to me, I’ve kind of done it once when I was 15, so I can’t really say that I wouldn’t feel different about it now if I tried it, but I recall when freshly moved up from California and my first time in snow there was a class field trip to Forbidden Plateau Mountain, a smaller ski hill next to Washington. They had a Bunny slope onto which I remained the entire day practicing my snow plow moves. I can’t recall if I had fun. Must not have made much of an impression on me. Maybe terror.

Anyway that was eons ago, maybe I’ll try downhill again but I’m thinking now more in the line of snowshoeing and Nordic skiing (cross-country). Just getting out there in the beautiful snow and some good cardio action. And it’s more economical than lift passes.

It’s all right there in my back yard, I want to take advantage of it and I thought a good place to start out was with an activity that was right in town, ice skating.

The first time I attempted ice skating since moving to Canada from California was in ’73  in the small rural community where we settled. The big fields next to my school was owned by one of my classmates’ family, ironically the Hortons, don’t know if they were in the lineage of THE Horton’s – Canadians will know who I’m talking about, but any way they had a big chunk of property and that particular winter we got a lot of snow and freezing temperatures and they had flooded one area of their field to create a big skating pond.

For a young gal from Huntington Beach it was one of the most magical memories I still carry. A country setting, a crystal clear night, a full moon, a bonfire and a big group of my new friends. Right out of LL Bean. My aunt had lent me her skates. Once out on the ice I actually did pretty good for a first time.

I’ve been a couple more times since but in the local hockey rinks. I didn’t relish the closed off grey block and steel structure of our ice rinks, stepping inside was a bit deflating, no ambience whatsoever. Which is why I didn’t care to do much more skating.

A far, far mournful cry from the enchantment of outdoor ice skating.

But that doesn’t matter now- we make our own fun right? And a hockey rink is all I’ve got to work with here.

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So this winter after many, many years out I go once again. Gripping to the boards I test the ice, awkwardly I make my way along, so far so good. Then comes the abyss of open ice, because the back third of the ice was sectioned off for children’s hockey play and so couldn’t access that part of rails. I let go and tentatively pushed out, careful not to let those damn figure skate toe picks trip me, keeping my feet up with each little waddling stride, keeping my eyes up and forward, paying no attention to the 4-year-old darting circles around me, and I do make it to the other side.

That felt good. I eventually moved further from the boards and chanted to myself that it’s just like roller skating, remember how easy that was. I was prodding my legs in remembering the many years my sister and I took figure rolling skating when growing up in California. We learned dance and freestyle, the jumps we see the ice skaters do in competitions, except with five pounds laced to our feet.

Well, it’s almost like roller skating. I was able to complete my skating session without mishap.

The next time my sister Kathy and her husband Dave came with me. Dave was also a roller skater back in California in fact it’s where he and Kathy met when they were 17, and he hadn’t been on the ice but twice either since moving here 40 years ago. He steps out and saunters down the ice, hands in pockets, like he’s on a Sunday stroll through the park. Kathy, like me, cling first to the boards before finding our ice legs, but before too long we are out there too gliding with Dave. It was a fun day together and we set another skate time for the following week.

This next time Bob came along with Kathy and me, he hadn’t skated in 45 years, it was high time. He had done a lot of skating in his youth being from Parry Sound Ontario if you were a kid, you skated. He was also on the towns hockey team, coached by Bobby Orr’s dad. He stuck with it till he was about 14 years old, then he said he became too cool and quit.

Bob glided onto the ice rather well considering the lapse and his 63 years, he began to really enjoy himself as he got the feel of it again. He was gaining his confidence and dexterity with each lap.

One enjoyable hour in and as I was coming up on Bob he stopped and turned towards me, then swiftly his feet slipped from under him and in a split second he went down like a felled Douglas fir, a 6′ 2″ straight up body slam on his back. I and Kathy and several others gathered around him and asked if he was all right, how was his head, can he get up? He said he was good and we helped him up.

Then he said ok that’s it, I’m done, saying he was too old for this, which is what I expected him to say. But then he surprised me when he immediately changed his mind and said no, better to get back on the horse. Way to go Bob, I thought.

When it got closer to quitting time we discussed turning in our skates before the crowds but we were having a pretty good time and decided instead to do a few more laps before going in. A few minutes more around the rink I see Kathy is coming up along behind me, when suddenly she’s face down on the ice. I stop and go to her, panicked. She had fallen hard on her right shoulder. I and another woman helped her up as Bob skated over to us.

She couldn’t move her arm saying she heard a crack as she went down. We got off the ice, I helped her with her skates and her shoes and her coat. The staff filled out a form and gave her an ice pack and I took her to emergency for x-rays in her car; Bob followed in ours. 3 hours later the prognosis was severe tendon damage and a possible start of a hair-line fracture. 6 weeks to heal with physio starting in 2 weeks.

She tripped on the damn toe pick. So I’ve lost one skating partner for now, but snowshoeing is still on the board with Kathy when she’s healed, low impact. Bob was stiff the next day, neck strained a bit from keeping his head from cracking on the ice but he was in good spirits regardless and said he’ll go skating with me again, perhaps including a helmet with his skate rental.

 

 

 

 

The big Ice of 2017

Our little far western corner of North America has alway been mecca for vast populations of eastern Canadians ever since the West was settled and word got back that no one out here owns a snow shovel. True, there have been exceptions throughout the years that we get a surprise dump that shuts down the city of Vancouver, or over on the island may give the kids a few Snow Days.

Bob who was born in Ontario smirks at these times. We don’t know snow he says. Because our dumps, er, snowfalls might bring 4-5″ at most and even this will hobble us for a bit. We don’t have a big budget here for snow removal, sanding trucks, salt stockpiles. We also don’t drive in it very well in it.

This can be a tragic event. I’ve seen cars approach a stop sign like it was an afternoon in the middle of July. Oh yeah, palm-to-face, there’s white stuff under my tires; you can literally read the realization on their face as they pirouette through the intersection.

Busses don’t fare any better.

This year Vancouver got hit with a few good winter storms that brought a fair amount of snow for them. Then it would warm a bit and rain, then freeze again and snow. It got messy for the residents. No one could make it down the road without serious injury it seemed, people careening and slipping everywhere. The city used 5,000 of its 6,000 tons of its annual allotment of salt.

Cue the beleaguered store clerks as they brace themselves for a sudden frantic run on all the hardware stores and Home Depots for bags of salt and those elusive snow shovels. Sorry, they say, we’re out of stock we have more coming in on Friday. They tell you this on a Sunday with a lopsided shrug and a twitching eye.

Meanwhile across the pond on the big island we didn’t have the full extent of that. For the most of any winter here we generally bask in greenery. We did get damn cold though and things froze hard along with a smatter of snow. We had temperatures well below freezing for weeks at a time. The upside was all the dry, clear, crisp sunshiny days that came with the big chill.

It was so cold the sea around my tiny island and half way across the harbor froze.

Luckily for us we have an aluminum boat which makes it easy to break the ice, which we did around a good area of the anchorage and docks in an attempt to help others that have smaller boats and are under-powered to break away through the ice from their moorages. Also for those living on their sailboats in the harbor who become ice-locked and unable to use their dinghies. So we made our way around slowly and chewed up the bay a bit.

Protection Island 01/2017

While scooting around the sailboats anchored in the bay near Newcastle Island we noticed a woman who was in a kayak working her way from town. I don’t know if she knew how much ice there was when she started out, but she gained enlightenment in the middle of the bay as she sat perched upon a massive ice sheet. Make way, us to the rescue. We crunched ahead of her breaking a chunky swath for her to paddle through to get home.

The wee ferry was also having challenges breaking out of its berth. Just as iced in as everyone else they had to cancel the early runs. The crew had to work hard to break ice just to give the ferry some wriggle room which could enable the ferry some room to run the boat  quickly forwards and backwards to churn up the water against the ice sheets and break them up.

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Once they could get under way the harbor Search and Rescue boat appeared and continued to break ice for them well into the middle of the bay where the ice ended before heading off to see where else they could be of service.

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So that’s our big ice saga, created a small community burble around here. Today the weather warmed a bit, the sea is once again fluid and things are as they normally are in January: grey, drizzly, and cold. A few degrees above freezing. But I have to be honest, I loved the past few weeks of brilliant sun and piercingly clear days and nights and secretly hope we get a bit more of it in the following months. January especially can be such a long dreary grey month otherwise. I’d rather see it sparkle.

 

Not a Resolution

I never make them. The Resolutions. It only creates unnecessary stress, a perceived glowering, like something breathing down my neck kind of presence I don’t care to invite. Like something waiting and watching for me to back-slide into whatever failure-type of behavior I am attempting to shed; smugly eyeing up my virtuous promises and entreaties while calling for wagers.

And yet.

There is something to be said about re-assessing ones path, choices, habits and behavior. And maybe there is a certain combined power when this is done annually en masse, joining in with all the other hopeful pledges of positive life changing vibes ringing out around the globe. Somehow maybe the odds to bring desired change about are better when we get swept into that current of optimism.

Because I think it’s safe to say every New Year’s Eve pretty much everybody is somewhat optimistic for the year ahead. We surround ourselves with friends, family or even strangers and shout and sing for the promise of a new beginning. We all want good things to happen in our lives. We want to feel we will do this or that better, be better, do more of what makes us happy, do more for others. Even if we don’t say it out loud as a resolution per say.

Don’t we secretly feel that we are stepping up to a newly drawn starting line, that the distance we see before us is clear and open, obstacles unseen?

Or ignored but you get what I’m saying.

There is power in group intention, benevolent or dangerous, we see it enacted all the time. A great channelling of energy. So when the climate is positive such as in happy celebrations that involve thousands we all ride that wave to some degree and perhaps can benefit.

No hard-line resolutions for 2017, instead I have intentions. And although the saying goes that the road to hell is paved with them, they are malleable and forgiving, more reflective of the human condition. I want the freedom of expansion or retraction as I meet upcoming challenges.