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Archive for the ‘Grandparenting’ Category

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 !!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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/

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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…

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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.

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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 🤔

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Another New Year’s Eve at home, just the two of us, and my eyes were getting heavy long before the ball dropped in New York.  We switched channels between Anderson Cooper on CNN and Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve.  One benefit to living on the west coast is that it’s midnight out east but only 9:00 here.  I tried my very best but tapped out at 10:00.  Sad, really.  I guess if I’d had an afternoon nap I may have lasted a bit longer.  Apparently there were fireworks happening close by and lots of banging of pots and pans but I slept soundly through it all.

As much as I love Christmas I was ready to bring all the totes up from the basement and pack it away.  Our Christmas closet (my favourite occasion has its own huge storage space) has never been so organized with detailed labels on each tote.  The only trace of the holiday now, is the bowl of candy at the front door. Hopefully not all our visitors have given up sweets as their resolution.  Candy cane anyone?

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And speaking of resolutions have you made one?  Please leave me a comment – I’d love to hear yours.  I try to keep it simple but have been thinking a lot about things I want to do more…or less.  In the “do more” category: write, read, daydream, yoga, gym time, drink water, eat healthier.  In the “do less” category: drink coffee, spend so much blasted time obsessing about American politics or social media in general and worry.  I come from a long line of worriers.  Generations of women who fret and fuss, mostly about things we have no control over.  I’m going to try very hard to do something about that bad habit.

January always heightens my attention to detail.  I feel compelled to write lists and organize paperwork.  It all starts when I write all the birthdays and anniversaries in my planner.  Doesn’t matter how many great apps there are I cannot do without my hard copy daily planner.  On New Year’s Day I sit down and write all the important occasions in red pen.  Birthdays & anniversaries don’t change.  Upcoming events are written in pencil because there is the possibility they may change and the perfectionist in me doesn’t like to cross things out.  Better to erase and keep things nice & tidy.  A simple thing really but it pleases me to no end.  This lovely Celtic planner is teaching me a new Welsh word every month and includes incredible mandala diagrams.

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After all the extra spending leading up to Christmas I go into frugal mode.  In January I bake from scratch, make soups from leftovers and dig around in the freezer to see what treats I can find.  A few days ago we enjoyed barbecued halibut and salmon for dinner.  We are always so grateful to friends and family who share their bounty from the ocean.  This is also the time that I fill up bags for the thrift store and boxes of books for our church’s second hand bookstore.  My word for 2018 is simplify.  Every room, every cupboard, every closet, every nook and cranny has potential.  Happy New Year to all — may your year sparkle & shine !!

Blessings from the beach…

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Many, many years ago we camped.  The kind of camping where you sleep on the ground.  With sleeping bags. In a tent.  No flush toilet or kitchen or electricity.  Loads of fun when you’re young.  I wouldn’t trade those happy memories for anything.  Like trying to pitch a tent in the dark.  Or me leaving the zipper open for raccoons to steal food.  My bff Yvonne just reminded me about that crazy trip when we were teenagers.  Now, with achy bones and having to get up multiple times in the night that kind of camping just doesn’t work anymore.  Our daughter & her husband spend most summer weekends camping.  Not wanting to be left out of a trip to Cluxewe Resort, Chris and I rented a trailer for a week.  A local bed & breakfast owner delivered her fully equipped trailer to the campsite for us.  Levelled it, pulled out the awning and had the hot water turned on and ready to go.  All the bedding, dishes and gear required for our home away from home.  Added perks like stereo, tv, microwave, heat & shower.  Wow camping sure has changed since our blow up mattresses and kerosene lanterns.

After putting away our clothing and food we immediately set up lawn chairs for our favourite part of the glamping program.  Sitting.  Cold beverage in hand and wearing my touristy straw hat during the day with arms & legs lathered in sunscreen and at night hoodie drawn tight and wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea. Imagine me sitting still for minutes at a time…relaxing.

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This happy one-year-old couldn’t get enough of the outdoors.  Rain or shine.  By stroller or wagon Bowen happily traveled from one end of the property to the other every day.  Including umpteen visits to the park. There was so much to touch and pick up and put in his mouth: weeds, grass, rocks and dirt.  With friends and family visiting every day there was always someone to follow our curious boy on his expeditions.  Being so close to forest and reports of cougars in town made us a little more cautious than usual.

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We saw lots of familiar faces during the week.  Locals out for a walk, camping or visiting the cafe for a meal.  It may only be 10 minutes from home but Cluxewe is very popular with North Islanders.  We share the same coast but the scenery is different.  The Cluxewe River, estuary and ocean sit side by side with oodles of shore & water birds and lush green vegetation.  The beach being more exposed washes up all kinds of driftwood and huge clam shells as far as the eye can see.

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The nights did get a bit chilly but that’s what campfires are for — and look at my perfect s’more.  Thanks to Nate for the perfectly roasted marshmallow sandwiched in between two chocolate covered digestive cookies.  Sweet, sticky goodness.

Some of the stories around the fire had me laughing until I cried.  Don’t worry gang — what is said at Cluxewe, stays at Cluxewe.  The very best part of camping though is the food.  Megan and I carefully drafted up a menu ahead of time, shopped for all the ingredients and then feasted at every meal.  Burgers & potato salad, mac & cheese with Caesar salad and garlic bread, perogies & sausage.  This photo was taken on Saturday which was an appy dinner.  Visiting family and friends all contributed a dish and thanks to our camping neighbour Erin the stand out for me was deep fried halibut bites.

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Our next few trips away will be by motorcycle.  Next month we’re island hopping to Denman & Hornby.  And in August we’re looking forward to meeting up with my brother Dan and cousin Brian who are hopping on their Harley’s in Ontario for some iron butt riding to BC and back.

Hugs from the beach…

http://www.cluxeweresort.com/

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For those who haven’t met me in person I smile.  A lot.  Ditto with laughing. Sometimes until I wheeze.  Best medicine EVER !!  My family have seen me laugh to extremes quite a few times.  Usually when I’m overtired and something hits my funny bone.  Highly embarrassing when it happens at an inappropriate time or place.   “Uh oh Mom’s gonna blow,” my daughter warns when she sees a laughing fit on the way.  And I’ve learned that trying to rein in the hilarity only makes it worse.  I once broke into a rash trying my best not to alarm shoppers in the greeting card aisle at the drugstore.  It wasn’t pretty.

This week I had so many reasons to smile.  One morning after a late leisurely breakfast at Tia’s Cafe with my daughter & grandson we walked the town centre to run errands.  Spring flowers at the Post Office are so cheerful even on the greyest & rainiest of days.   Daffodils are my absolute favourite.  Note to self:  plant some in our garden !!  These foot vase/planters at the drugstore stopped me in my tracks.  Whimsical, a tiny bit creepy and I’d like to ask the artist, why is the big toe curled up?  We browse through the gift section often.  This week there’s a batch of wooden signs using old records.  How retro !!  And a great way to use up that vinyl collecting dust in basements all over the world.

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Eleven months ago this little munchkin started charming us all.  On this particular day he was most interested in what Grandpa was doing outside on the ladder. We knew Grandpa was power washing winter grime from the vinyl siding but Bowen looked at it as a game of peekaboo.  “Where’s Grandpa?” “Where did he go?” “Oh there he is.”  I dare anyone to keep a straight face watching a baby process the world or when they bless you with a gap toothed grin.  Yesterday in Port Hardy Bowen carried on quite the conversation with an old fellow who was happy to speak the goo goo gaa gaa language babies understand.

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Waking up every morning my routine is simple.  Shuffle into the kitchen, turn the coffee pot on, and gaze out the window.  Time for my own weather forecast.  Today I’m guessing: scattered clouds, mostly sunshine, wind from the south and a high of 12 degrees.  We’ll need sunglasses or ball cap today to keep that glorious sunshine out of our eyes. That makes me smile.

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And on the agenda for today.  Baking large batches of banana chocolate chip muffins.  Homemade goodness that will go perfectly with afternoon tea.  With a view !!  One more reason to let my happiness shine through.

Hugs from the beach…

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