Long and winding road …

It’s unavoidable. There’s nothing we can do about it. We simply cannot get through life without traveling down the road with grief. There it is.

Eight months ago I watched my favourite person take his last breath. My husband of 35 years gone.

The one who hugged me first thing every morning for at least one minute because he read it releases oxytocin and lowers stress.

The one who brought me coffee in bed when he woke up first, gave me flowers for no reason and told me every single day he loved me.

Grief is complicated. And I had no idea it can be so damn physical. Aches & pains, brain fog, rumbling gut, anxiety, exhaustion, shortness of breath, insomnia and lack of appetite. To allay my fears the doctor ordered complete blood work and an ECG. All results were normal. Definitely not a word I’d use to describe myself even in the best of times.

Being a writer my first line of defence is to research. Scrolling through Pinterest I tumbled into a wormhole of memes about grief. A few resonated but most had me rolling my eyes. Ugh. Could they be any more cliched? And I’ve never been a fan of rhyming poetry.

When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” The origin of this quote is highly debated but I believe it. Books, songs, movies and people come to me serendipitously. Those rare mindful moments when I’m not a whirling dervish with a hundred things on the go.

A friend sent me a book of meditations A Time to Grieve by Carol Staudacher. It’s the kind of book you can open to any page. Yes, this meditation feels right today or no, I’m not anywhere near ready for that one as I slam the book shut. This book is a gentle reminder grief isn’t something to rush or get over. I’m finding there aren’t as many days of one step forward and three steps back.

Taking care of the mind/body connection I’m practicing yoga, meditating, journalling and seeing a psychologist. The bullshit meter is strong with this one. She pokes and prods and gets to the crux of what’s keeping me up in the middle of the night. Forces me to categorize what I have control over and what I do not. Reminds me I’ve got an incredible support system and plenty of tools to deal with fears and insecurities.

On my best days I’m making plans and moving forward. On wobbly days it’s tears over song lyrics and not able to finish the simplest task. On those days the hugs I get from my grandsons are a balm.

Every single day I’m coping and stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for. For now that’s enough.

Hugs from the beach…

Wee Free Library

My Mom tells the story of the day she realized I was reading books on my own and not just reciting memorized bits of Dr. Seuss. The start of my lifelong love of reading.

My parents, brother and I visited the public library regularly. Not tall enough to reach all the shelves I would drag the step-stool through the fiction section, clamber up for a closer look, carefully choose a book and plant myself.

My routine is still the same. First I carefully scan the front and back. Because I do judge a book by its cover. Next I read the inside flaps. I flip a few pages to see what year the book was written. Finally, I read the first page or two to decide whether the book is worth the trip home. So many books so little time. If a book doesn’t grab me right away I move on.

This past Christmas I was directed to open a strange looking parcel wrapped in cardboard. A voracious reader as well, my sweet husband had commissioned a library for me. Anytime we saw one in our travels he would turn around and go back so I could have a peek. I may have yelled, “stop the truck” a few times.

Covid & illness threw a big wrench into plans to open the library. It sat empty for months before anonymous donations started showing up.

Yesterday I cleaned the windows and added a few more books for an official ribbon cutting ceremony. Mayor Gaby Wickstrom joined the celebration and my favourite 4-year-old cut the ribbon with Mimi’s good scissors. There were also chocolate cupcakes because as Bowen rightfully pointed out parties need cupcakes. Right you are sweetheart.

Possibly a librarian in another life, I do have a few rules. Talk as loud as you want though — being shushed for talking out loud will never happen here.

Wee Free Library

How does this work?

Take a book or two

If you see something you’d like to read take it home

After you read it you’re welcome to keep it or pass it on to a friend

Books are quarantined before being placed in the library

We aren’t accepting book donations at this time

Happy Reading

And so it goes…

2020 has been discombobulating. Heartbreaking loss and transition. And for our family there was the difficult combination of Covid & cancer. Both assholes. And yet…on the saddest days we still laugh and joke and find plenty to be thankful for.

Our favourite human is gone. And he’s not. I can still hear him. We all can. He’s cheering us on, wanting us to live our best lives. Putting on my big girl pants I am slowly poking my nose out and rejoining the world.

These cutie patooties turned one in June so we expanded our bubble a little for a 4-generation party. It was twins’ first iced cupcake and they weren’t terribly impressed.

In July we packed up for a family staycation at Miracle Beach near Campbell River. Five days of sun sand & surf. I really like the alliteration of that sentence but c’mon it’s the north island so it was a little bit of sun, a bunch of rain, sand & surf 😉

The boys spent most waking moments digging in the sand. We found a beautiful rental home with walk on beach access and can’t wait to go back.

This summer the much awaited hybrid ferry Island Aurora finally arrived. Wanting to check it out we packed all the kid equipment food & drinks we needed for a day trip to Sointula.

It was so good to have my brother Dan visit this summer. We haven’t spent so much time together since we were teenagers.
How to celebrate turning 60 without wandering too far from home? With pralines and cream in a waffle cone followed by some time at the park with my favourite littles ❤️❤️❤️

A few days after my birthday I hopped onboard a water taxi and headed to Nimmo Bay Resort. The first time in my life that I went on a trip, as my 4-year-old grandson Bowen would say, “all by my own.” I was equal parts nervous and excited.

This year Nimmo introduced a spectacular new lodge with state of the art kitchen, bar and dining room with fireplace

This should be a blog post by itself but Nimmo Bay has been written about, photographed and filmed by countless very talented travel writers. I won’t even try to compete.

https://nimmobay.com/

Happily ensconced in Cabin #1 the rocking chair on the porch was the perfect vantage point to watch float planes, a Grumman Goose and boats zipping in and out with guests & provisions.

Everything about Nimmo is 5-star. The meals were exquisite. Scrumptious and beautiful. Throwing myself into new experiences I slurped raw oysters topped with deep fried kelp. My favourite entree was the grilled elk and I could easily become addicted to Nimmo’s homemade sourdough bread with whipped salted butter. And I wish I’d written down the ingredients of the heavenly dessert that included sweet & salty, warm & cold all in one bowl.

Inwardly cringing at the thought of dining solo the staff kindly offered me a spot at the bar for meals. Nope. The view beckoned and with a book, journal & camera for props I managed just fine.

My wellness themed adventures included: a picnic on the point, hot-tubbing beside the waterfalls followed by a rain shower, 5 hour individualized boat tour, meditation sessions and a massage in the Cascade Room beside the falls.

Those three days were magical !! My heart still hurts but I felt peace. And glimmers of hope of what might come next. I will be okay. I am okay.

My home away from home — a fully outfitted trailer rented from Karen Grafton owner of Ocean Comfort B&B

Home for just one night with barely enough time to do some laundry & grocery shopping I headed out to Cluxewe Resort for 10 nights. From a peaceful retreat for one to high octane energy of young moms & the happy chaos of kids ages 1-8.

All dining was done al fresco in a tarp covered kitchen & living area. A large pen kept the 1-year-olds contained. It was whisked away every night and turned into the fire pit area for adults

And so it goes. Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again ❤️❤️❤️

Hugs from the beach…

Mother’s Day…Week

A favourite picture of my Mom and I 💕
Easter 1961 Welland Ontario

The weather on Vancouver Island North has been truly spectacular. Sunshine. Lots of it. And warm. Summer warm. I try my best to sound sympathetic when commenting on snowy pics family & friends have posted on Facebook but I can’t help showing off just a little. Oh look we’re out riding our motorcycle. Oops, I got a sunburn because I forgot sunscreen. Whew, I had to open all the windows to get some fresh air blowing through the house. And there will be no complaints when the rain starts in a few days. The forest needs a good drink.

Nothing beats ripping down the highway on the motorcycle
It was a very Happy Mother’s Day !!

I really like the new custom of making noise to thank health care workers and first responders. One of the noisiest streets every night at 7pm in Port McNeill is Kingcome Place. Thanks to an enthusiastic crew of many including: Pat Bremner, John Foster & Boni Sharpe armed with air horns and pots & pans our little town’s spirit shines brightly every single night. #7pmthanks #frontlineheroes #makesomenoise

Over time making noise from home has morphed into an occasional Saturday night parade with classic cars and trucks and motorcycles. And instead of birthday parties there are now birthday parades. Good call getting our bike insurance renewed a few weeks ago so we can join in on the fun.

Happy 73rd Birthday to
Karen Murphy

BC is cautiously moving from stay at home mode to a gradual reopening starting May 19th. That includes many businesses and all provincial parks. Personally, we’re a long way from wanting to get on a plane or dine in at restaurants but we are cautiously adjusting to a new normal.


Incredible weather this week lent itself to golf lessons, bike rides, staining our new flower boxes and the twins keep their mama busy in our front yard.

Covid changed our Mother’s Day family tradition this year. For the first time in more than 20 years we weren’t able to meet for brunch at Telegraph Cove. The only day of the year when I have Eggs Benny and dessert on my plate at the same time. That’s okay the best family get togethers now are happening in our yard.

This Mother’s Day Week let’s celebrate our moms and those who support and nurture us. Love & hugs from the beach …

Hearts in the Window

Not sure how you’ve been dealing with Covid-19 but I’ve mostly been holed up at home. Venturing out for supplies when absolutely necessary. Self distancing from family and friends. That’s the toughest part of flattening the curve. Not being able to hug our beloved grandsons. Sure, we can FaceTime or Skype keeping our daughter company when she’s feeding the twins or showing off my new ukulele skills to her almost 4-year-old Bowen. But not being in the same space as them is hard. Really hard.

Before I headed outside for some fresh air this afternoon the plan was to head downtown and take pictures of closed/reduced hour signs in business windows. Way too negative I decided after walking past my friend Gaby’s house. I actually back tracked to take the first picture of hearts.

Hearts in the Window is a Facebook group that started in Nanaimo a few weeks ago? Days are blending into each other so I’m a bit fuzzy how long ago it was. Natasha James simply asked members to share their window displays. The page now has 122,000+ members worldwide. Port McNeill quickly jumped onboard and there are hundreds of homes and businesses spreading love to the world.

Every store & service has modified and adjusted how they do business. We now have to renew our insurance by phone & online and we can only access our post office boxes during office hours. The North Island Eagle newspaper is now available by “the safety of the internet.”

Harbourside PharmaChoice is closed to customer traffic but happy to do your shopping for you. You can order/pay by phone or give your order to an employee through the door and step inside to pay using strict protocol. I didn’t hear a smidge of judgment when I asked for, “the biggest bag of Mini Eggs you have and could you please throw in two packages of peanut butter cups.” Wonder how long they’ll last 😉

With barely time to even take a breath after the devastating eight month logging strike Macrina Richards reluctantly closed down Tia’s Cafe. She promises to reopen as soon as she can. I’ll be one of the first in line for one of her hearty meatloaf sandwiches and lattes. Add that to the list of things I miss.

Shoprite General Store has been in transition for months. Their flagship store up the hill on Broughton Boulevard is now closed with its inventory moved over to what was Shoprite Marine on Campbell Way. Thanks for the wooden hearts on the front fence. We love you too !!!

Making my way back home I ran into our neighbours the Cosgrove family. Said hello to them from across the street because…well…that’s what we do now. I’m guessing social customs are going to change going forward. Not sure I’ll go back to handshakes after all this. Maybe the namaste 🙏 gesture or one friend suggested bows & curtsies which would be fun.

For now I’m keeping myself busy. Spending many happy hours in my craft room carding and scrapbooking. Rereading one of my favourite series, binging Netflix, video chatting, downloading new apps like Marco Polo & Zoom and I’ve been making a lot of homemade soups. Our favourite so far is tomato/basil/parmesan.

Most importantly we’re doing the best we can to keep each other and our family safe. I heard a song today that said “it’s gonna be okay.” Yes it is !! So until further notice — celebrate everything ❤️❤️❤️

Love from the beach…

What Brings You Joy?

Not sure why I’m surprised when it happens. But it’s something that sneaks up over time. One month, a few months and then wayyyy too many months pass by and then wham…I’m whining to my dear husband, “I haven’t blogged for ages and really miss it!” It came up recently during a long car ride down island and chatting about all the things that keep us busy. Too busy.

It’s a vicious cycle. When I’m feel overwhelmed I start procrastinating. When there’s too many events on the calendar and too many deadlines. And believe me I know how counterproductive it is to ignore the things. In the past it’s helped to write them all down. The next step is to start chopping the list to a doable and reasonable length. The Marie Condo video series “Tidying Up” crossed my radar at exactly the same time as this round of chopping was required. She’s a Japanese organizing consultant who helps people wade through and simplify a lifetime of stuff. Whether it’s a piece of clothing, a book or a trinket you have to decide if that item sparks joy. If it does you keep it and enjoy it. If not, you thank the item and let it go. I had no problem purging drawers & closets full of clothing. Not sure how I’ll feel when it comes time to let books go 😳

Letting activities go makes for a slower and more difficult process. Last year the publisher of a small regional newspaper asked if I’d be interested in writing a weekly human interest piece and I was thrilled. Throwing myself back into a weekly deadline I interviewed interesting people and shared their incredible stories. Maybe four months in I realized I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I am not a spontaneous writer — more like excruciatingly slow. Research, interviews, transcription and the actual writing were taking me days instead of hours. It took me a few weeks but I finally bit the bullet and sent the dreaded email. Guilt quickly made way for relief.

A wise friend posted a video yesterday on Facebook where she shares how important it is to get back to the things that give us life. When we are in the midst of being overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, sad, sick or whatever it is we’re going through, we quite often let those things go. It was a gentle kick in the butt for me to focus on the things that bring me joy.

Today it was going for a long walk around town with my brand new camera. Chilly but sunny I enjoyed every moment outside. Breathing the wild air, stopping to chat and enjoying the view.

Standing guard at the top of a driveway this Easter Island like figure makes me smile

Years ago my Dad & a friend trimmed these trees because their bottom limbs were a visual hazard for drivers. They still look great guys !!!

We lived in this rental home for 3 years. We loved living on the beach so much we built a home of our own just down the road.

Sideways rain this afternoon was followed by rainbows and sailboats.

What brings you joy? For me this week it’s been yoga, reading an incredible memoir, spending time with family and playing in my craft room. Let me know what works for you?

Hugs from the beach…

We are family…

It was a group of 10-2-1.  Ten adults, two dogs and a 2-year-old.  I’m talking about a much anticipated mini family reunion over three days in May.  It had been almost 3 years since we were all together. For months we chatted on Facebook about the shenanigans from “that week” back in 2015 when Megan and Justin got married.  We were thankful for 3 days of spectacular weather. Perfect to showcase Vancouver Island North one more time for our out-of-town guests:  my brother and his family from Ontario, my Dad from Courtenay.  And dear friends/beloved godparents of our daughter who joined us from Lake Cowichan.

One morning a bunch of us headed out on a crabbing adventure.  Our experienced guide Rob herded 4 generations of us from the logging road, through lush, green forest and down a small rock cliff to the sandy beach at Ledge Point.  Not a big secret apparently as there were at least a dozen other crabbers all with their own homemade equipment.  Rubber boots and bucket are an absolute must !!  We used modified hockey sticks with a rounded metal scoop (I’m guessing made out of old coat hangers) on the end.  Waving our sticks slowly back and forth through the sea grass seemed most effective.  And I was so proud of myself for not squealing when a crab latched onto my stick.  I managed to gently scoop underneath the crab and quickly push it into the bucket. Inwardly thinking eek, eek, eek I got a crab lol.  The limit is 4 adult male crabs per person and between our 3 licenses we came home with 11 in the bucket. Well done team !!

4FDA6754-6E12-4688-A293-58658682F7AF

Low tide at Ledge Point was optimal for crabbing

Fresh boiled crab still in the shell was added to the barbecue dinner for grandson Bowen’s 2nd birthday party that night.  Happy chaos with our crew plus our son-in-law’s parents and one of his siblings and her husband.  The birthday boy and star of the show seemed very happy with his fire chief’s ensemble and more trucks for his vroom vroom collection.  His Mom had a hard time keeping the candle lit on the cake long enough for us to sing.  Bowen is fascinated by candles and can’t wait to blow them out.  That’s actually one of his jobs at church on Sunday mornings.

970E4474-1E0C-4736-AEA8-DA8037976588

Happy 2nd Birthday Bowen.

Later it was back to the beach for a bonfire, stories, wobbly pops and so much laughter.  And may I remind those assembled — what is said and happens the campfire, stays at the campfire 😉

The next morning Chris and I hopped on the motorcycle and everyone else piled into vehicles for more adventure.  First stop was the Nimpkish Hatchery on the way out to Telegraph Cove.  Our friend Rob is one of many volunteers at the hatchery and he explained the process from egg to fry (baby salmon) to adults being released into the wild.  Very interesting to learn that at the hatchery 99% of eggs survive.  They are not so lucky in the wild.  Next stop was Telegraph Cove.  First an alfresco lunch on the deck at the Killer Whale Cafe (their seafood chowder is amaaaaazing !!) followed by a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk.

CB1857BC-546D-449E-B806-E555C52C58D4.jpeg

These salmon were released at the beginning of June

The next day we hugged everyone goodbye and it was time for laundry and some yard-work.  Rob called and asked if we were interested in heading out to Telegraph Cove for lunch.  There’s only one way to answer a question like that – heck yeah !!  We were one of seven bikes in convoy out to the Seahorse Cafe.  Thanks to Marcus and staff for another great meal.  We’ll be back again soon.

7AD81918-45A6-4A90-8085-EBB6106FBE24.jpeg

North Island Bikers are big fans of the Seahorse Cafe

The heat has been turned off inside the house, windows are thrown open most days and we can hear the birds chirping every morning.  It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer.

Hugs from the beach…

Hippy Dippy Grandma – Take 1

6157360D-E43E-4DAD-A717-C85796300DB2.jpeg

I started calling myself Hippy Dippy last summer when I bought a flowing tie-dyed top in a funky little shop on Hornby Island.  Being born in 1960 means I was too young to be a hippy but it’s never too late…to be…groovy !!

When we moved from Resolute Bay, NWT (high arctic, population 100) to Squamish BC, (near Vancouver, population a whopping 5,000) I started learning about recycling.  We’re talking 1989.  The only recycling I’d ever done was cashing in cans and bottles.  In Squamish there was a recycling depot and I started taking back cardboard and glass.  Bought milk in returnable glass bottles.  Got myself a book called “The Green Consumer” and wrote my first newspaper articles about my intriguing new journey.

Back then I only got 6 out of 18 on a “How Green are you Quiz?” but I’m certain my score would be much better now.  My husband teases me that he didn’t know he’d be washing garbage when he retired.  Tin cans and plastics are all rinsed before being tossed into the recycling tote in our kitchen.  Downstairs we have much larger containers for plastic bags, styrofoam, glass, can & bottle returnables and general recyclables.  Every two weeks the general stuff gets picked up curb side.  And the rest we have to take ourselves to a local depot.  Incredible to think it would all end up in landfill otherwise.

Fifteen years ago or so I worked on-call casual at a local store East of Java.  It has changed location and owner but still one of my favourites.  It’s the smell.  Candles, incense, essential oils permeate and I can tell if something has been purchased there by inhaling that glorious aroma.  During slow times I would devour books about essential oils learning more about tea tree, peppermint and lavender – the first ones in my collection.

Essential oils have exploded in our small community.  “Make & Take” parties where I’ve made foaming hand soaps, lip balm, and rollers to help with sleep and stress.  Taking it to the next level I’ve swapped out store bought laundry, dish and dishwasher soap for homemade.  No chemicals, no additives.  Only clean ingredients.  Learning as I go.  I’m happy with the laundry soap but really don’t like the dish soap.  It’s too runny so I’ll use it up and move to another recipe that’s thicker with more suds action.  More research required as well on dishwasher soap.  Coffee rings did not come clean and the inside of the dishwasher itself is now stained. Stay tuned.  I am nothing if not persistent.  Scratch that — stubborn.

4B168A5C-B595-4F8D-9615-B17CBC014EFB.jpeg

The hunt for all natural personal products is another part of the hippy dippy trip.  I’m still in the early research stage so for now relying on store bought toothpaste & mouth rinse, face & body creams and have switched over to bar shampoo.  At the end of November I finally said goodbye to deodorant containing chemicals.  What I found out over many months and many different deodorants is that my armpits are super sensitive.  Googling armpit rash & bumps led me to sites that explained you have to detox your pits.  Only makes sense that your body has to get rid of the aluminum and chemicals it’s been ingesting for so many years.  On a crafting weekend away with gal pals we took time out to visit the Qualicum Beach Farmer’s Market.  A serendipitous chat with the owner of Green Diva Apothecary led to my problem.  She suggested I could be sensitive to deodorants with baking soda as the main ingredient.  Now I’m using a sage lavender blend with baking soda at the bottom of the list.  Ta da — problem solved.  I sure wish I’d read this article in November.

https://branchbasics.com/blog/2018/02/how-to-detox-your-armpits-and-switch-to-a-nontoxic-deodorant/

1AD07DBC-24B7-4D35-8B83-331B61D07CF0.png

I’m not pretending to be an earth mother here.  There are still things in our bathroom and kitchen that are not eco friendly.  Definitely not good for fish or aquatic creatures should these things get into the water supply.  I’m making small and steady improvements being more mindful of the environment.  And enjoying making things from scratch with ingredients I can pronounce and understand.  Please tell me what you’ve learned along the way.  Feel free to share recipes and advice making your own homemade cleaning supplies and personal care items.

Love & Peace…

The road less travelled…

Always up for an adventure, four generations piled into a logging road worthy truck and off we went on a Sunday drive to explore Vancouver Island North.  Son-in-law Justin asked where we wanted to go and our only request was not a lot of walking.  Makes sense when you’re traveling with an almost 2-year-old and a Great-Grandma with sore knees.

It’s an extremely windy road to Port Alice and unless I’m the one driving I’m usually a little green around the gills.  Not this time.  So distracted chatting and telling stories I was amazed how quickly we arrived.

I’m embarrassed to say it’s the first time I’ve been to the Port Alice mill site.  Twenty years on the North Island and I’d never been further than the village.  Neucel Specialty Cellulose closed in 2015 putting 400 people out of work.  Devastating to this small village they’ve lost people, shops and services but the spirit is still strong. There are plans underway for a community garden and a new marina to encourage tourism.

542E0B52-3DCE-48A5-8A86-E1155DC2A730.jpeg

An old dock and one of the many beaches in Port Alice located on Neurotsos Inlet

Next stop on our most excellent adventure was Link River which was definitely worth getting out of the truck for.  There’s a boat launch, campsites, gazebos with fire pits, and old school swing set.  There is no way the youngest of our group was going to let us walk past without some time on those swings.  Obviously there were visitors here during the Easter weekend and Justin found a plastic egg with a chocolate egg inside.  Along with a bunch of socks.  Strange what people leave behind 🤔

7B4402F3-F931-4093-9B26-C0D7FAD4F993.jpeg

Link River Regional Park

Thanks to our uber patient tour guide who didn’t mind the umpteen times one of us yelled, “stop the truck !!”  So many photo opportunities and most of the time I had no idea where we were.

B44C9597-F155-40B5-9683-82CEAF97C350.jpeg

The signs above helped my sense of direction slightly but on logging roads the signs are mostly just numbers which don’t make sense to me.  Joking that we’d been to church Sunday morning and Devil’s Bath in the afternoon we hopped out of the truck to climb a few stairs to the lookout.  The pictures don’t do the enormous sinkhole justice at all.  I thought to myself that maybe taking a few of those trees would give visitors a better view.

B7A89870-06D9-46E4-ACE9-D974E4A6699D.jpeg

Miles and miles and miles of logging roads.  Most not visible from the highway and a world unto themselves.  We are so blessed that the logging companies allow access to recreational sites, lakes and rivers.  And there is so much history out in the bush.  Old mine sites like the Merry Widow and we drove past Benson Lake where an old miner named Bob Bennett hit the national news years ago after being rescued from a well.  The spunky octogenarian had been down there for 4 days and wondered what the fuss what all about when the RCMP dog found him.

2D66E400-1478-4776-B52D-A3534BE73810.jpeg

An interesting bit of logging history sitting on the side of the road

Here’s a map of “the loop.”  We were gone for 5 hours and covered a lot of ground.  It’s been a wonderful three weeks having my Mom visiting from Ontario.  Sadly she’s flying home in a few days but we’re planning our next adventures already.  We didn’t have time for the Eternal Fountain or Elephant Mountain so we’ll save that.

570D1BFD-A7C6-4BBA-809A-A40C88E845D8.jpeg

Just one of the maps available on the Vancouver Island North Tourism website 

Spring is here now.  The temperatures are milder, trees are budding and spring flowers blooming.  Perfect for adventure.

Hugs from the beach…

Emergency Preparedness – Are You Ready?

On Tuesday morning about 2:30 am we were jolted awake by fire trucks with sirens blaring as they sped past our house.  With my heart pounding and as wide awake as I could possibly be, my cool as a cucumber husband and I talked about what could be happening.  Medical emergency?  Fire?  Or maybe another landslide?  We dealt with a few last year and were evacuated overnight when one home was badly damaged.

Moments later, more sirens and flashing lights.  I really wanted to know what was going on but before I could even finished getting dressed there was a knock at the door.  Uh oh.  My stress level went up another notch.  It was an RCMP member advising there had been a large earthquake off Alaska with a tsunami warning in effect. Beach Drive was being evacuated and we should proceed to NISS (North Island Secondary School).  Minutes later a fireman passed on the same message.

Processing the information we stood there deciding what to take with us?  Last time we were evacuated we assumed it would only be a few hours.  It ended up being overnight and we vowed we’d be more organized next time.  So, gathering up our cell phones, wallets, iPads, charge cords, I also added my toothbrush & toothpaste to my knapsack and off we went taking both our vehicles up to the high school.  In hindsight we definitely need a checklist !!! One reason is the 72-hour emergency tote that we left sitting in the front closet. And we never got around to packing a proper “to go” bag with clothing or bedding or toiletries.

301F2F99-0D16-4505-B795-B824CB6541E0.jpeg

Emergency Social Services registers the evacuees

Within moments of arriving at the high School principal Jay Dixon Jay (his family also Beach Drive evacuees) welcomed us into the library with comfortable chairs and hot coffee.  Lowering a huge screen from the ceiling Mr. Dixon found the most recent information about the event online.  With access to free wi-fi many of us were on our devices reading reports from all over the world. The first bit of news was the earthquake was a 7.9 not an 8.2 although I’m not sure if that made anyone feel any better.

We were offered a blanket, drinks and snacks and really the atmosphere was more like a block party than an emergency.  Dogs, kids, parents and grandparents all in good spirits for being up in the middle of the night.  With no reports of damage or high water levels we all just wanted to go home.  About 4am Environment Canada announced the warning was cancelled and we got the all clear.

After such an adrenaline rush it was impossible to settle down to sleep.  And we were rehashing the events for days afterwards. CHEK TV from Victoria interviewed me about the sequence of events and I also talked to a reporter from the North Island Gazette.  I told them both how fantastic the RCMP, Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department, Emergency Social Services and North Island Secondary School all were ensuring we were quickly notified, registered, and looked after 😀

93A9563F-6BFA-46B7-A2B8-CB43502B7E0F.jpeg

Perhaps next time we’ll remember to bring this with us.

I now have a new app called Earthquake on my iPad for up-to-date information on earthquakes happening in North America. I’ve also added the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and Emergency Info BC to my Twitter feed.  Not sure you can ever be completely organized but it makes me feel a little bit better.

Hugs from the beach…