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Summer doesn’t officially end for a few days, but fall is quickly showing its muscle.  Shorter days, Canadian Geese flying in formation and finally after one of the driest summers — blessed rain !!  One of my favourite parts of autumn is the cool, crisp breeze that comes in off the ocean.  Wish I could bottle that fragrance up and sell it.

The summer months were jam packed and action filled.  Not as many motorcycle trips as we would have liked but it is hard to beat last year’s 2 1/2 month North American trek. We managed a few mini vacays traveling with friends and family and the bike will NOT go back into storage until the last day of September when the insurance expires for the season.  We live so far away from most of our family so it’s such an event when they come to visit us in Port McNeill.  My brother & cousin rode their Harleys across Canada and we were thrilled they carved out three nights to spend time with us.  Much laughing over a few cold drinks !!  With her new hip and so much more mobile than when I saw her in March, my Mom just flew home to Ontario after being here for 3 weeks.  We chatted.  We shopped.  We ate bad snacks.  And GG (great-grandma) got lots of quality time with Bowen.  My Mom’s cousin Judy and her friend John come up from Washington State for a mini family reunion while GG was here.  Their moms grew up in Saskatchewan and then one went east to Ontario and one went west to Vancouver and then on to Seattle.

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1) Trip to Hornby & Denman Islands with fellow bikers  2) My brother Dan and cousin Brian posing in front of the Whale Interpretive Centre at Telegraph Cove 3) Our daughter Megan, her husband Justin and their adorable son Bowen were all in a wedding party 4) My Mom & Bowen at our regular Friday night Legion dinner

I’ve been dragging my feet for two days now trying to decide which pictures encapsulated our summer.  Then realized I’ve used most of the best ones in previous posts or on Facebook.  So I started thinking in overall themes: people, flowers & north island scenery.

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1 & 2 taken at Shepherd’s Garden near Port McNeill.  3) Alert Bay Ecological Park and 4) The Community Garden at St. John Gualbert Church in Port McNeill

Thanks to Mackay Whale Watching for the unforgettable moments out in the Broughton Archipelago.  Twice in two weeks I was out on the Naiad jumping up and down with glee to see orca & humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea lions.  Over almost 20 years I’m sure Chris and I have taken thousands of whale pictures.  The majority of them are little black dots or splashes of water on the surface.  Although enlarged and cropped this is by far the best shot of an orca in our collection.

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1) Orca spyhopping taken onboard Mackay Whale Watching vessel the Naiad a few weeks ago 2) smoky sunrise the result of forest fires in the Interior of BC 3) after the smoke cleared we went back to our normal morning view 4) one of the beautiful giants at the Alert Bay Ecological Reserve

It’s time to start getting the garden and yard ready for winter.  Chris and I are happy to get back to the gym this morning and start back on a much healthier eating plan after slacking off most of the summer.  So long carbs…hello lean protein and salads 😇 Chips & dip I will miss you *sigh*

Here’s a challenge for you.  Do more of what makes you happy.  What does that look like for you this autumn?  I’ve got a stack of books to read.  Information to add to the family tree on ancestry.ca.  Umpteen crafting projects to finish.  An online photography course to get through.  Happy Autumn 🍂🍁

Hugs from the beach…

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Longer days.  Photo worthy sunrises and sunsets.  Much warmer temperatures.  It’s finally time to dig out flip flops, shorts and slather on some sunscreen.  And the people said AMEN .  Just to be clear 20 degrees Celsius is considered a suitable summer temperature on the north island.  It’s never too hot or too cold.  We don’t get scorching hot summers and we’re happy with the mild winters — some years we don’t even have to get the snow shovel out of the shed. Add it to the many things we love about living on the west coast.

Deciding to be tourists in our own backyard last week we hopped the ferry and headed over to Sointula on Malcolm Island.  Approximately 800 souls call the island home.  I like to think of them as “the Finns and the hippies.”  More saunas per capita than anywhere else in Canada. Artists, writers, musicians and free spirits.  Our first stop off the ferry was the Sointula Resource Centre to pick up the Sointula Guide for 2017.  And groceries don’t get any fresher than goodies for sale in the garden stand out front.  Monday’s offerings were farm fresh eggs, garlic and assorted jams/jellies.  I love the honour system — you write down what you purchased on a a clipboard and leave your cash in the slot.  Our next stop was the Co-op Store where I found some organic instant oatmeal made in BC.  Because it’s a store owned & operated by the people there are always different items than we find at our grocery store.  We then wandered across the road to Upper Crust Bakery where I was thrilled to find a loaf of pulla — Finnish sweet cardamom bread.  My mouth is watering just thinking about toasted pulla with butter and homemade jam 😀 Chatting with the owner Victor we found out with a bit of notice he’ll bring baked goods to Port McNeill on Mondays.  After sharing a delicious cinnamon roll, sausage roll and ham & cheese croissant with my fellow travellers we’ll be calling him very soon.

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Sointula is a Finnish word meaning “place of harmony”

After cruising the main drag we made our way to Burger Barn at the Boat Harbour. Sitting at an oceanfront picnic table we dove into scrumptious homemade cheeseburgers & fries.  An added bonus was being serenaded by two guitar playing locals.

We had all afternoon to explore before catching the 4:25 ferry.  Made our way to the other side of the island to Bere (pronounced “bear”) Point.  Even traveling with a one-year-old we managed to walk with the stroller for a bit of the Beautiful Bay Trail and finally ditched it with mama carrying baby the rest of the way to the platform at Malcolm Point.  Stunning views of Queen Charlotte Strait and the Coastal Mountains.  Walking the entire trail takes 5 hours round trip and depending on damage from winter storms it’s not always open the whole way.  There’s a caretaker’s shack in the campground parking lot with information if you’re not sure.

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Bere Point Park & Beautiful Bay Trail

Before we had to line up at the ferry terminal we had time to relax on the beach past the Finnish cemetery on the Kaleva Road.  With nobody in sight in either direction we happily plunked ourselves on driftwood with faces turned up to the sun.  Bowen is happy no matter what his surroundings — picking up and throwing rocks pleased him to no end.

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On Monday eager to take advantage of another sunny day, our merry band of adventurers packed up for a trip to Telegraph Cove.  When you travel with a little person preparation takes time and effort.  Stroller, toys, baby bag with diapers & change of clothes.  Check.  Snacks, sippy cup, soother and sun hat.  Check.  Safe to proceed.

We brought our own picnic with homemade macaroni salad and picked up some fresh buns & deli meat on the way. Topped off with specialty coffees from Sea Horse Cafe we sat and watched the comings and goings in the harbour. Fishing boats, kayakers and visitors from around the world make their way to Telegraph Cove.

The yard of foxglove in front of one of the homes in the Cove stopped us all in our tracks. Glorious !!  I’ve learned since then that they are a biennial plant meaning they bloom the second year and then die. But each flower contains seeds so they spread like crazy.  And the last picture is my favourite.  Bowen fell asleep from the time we left the Cove and drove to the campsite so we could hike the short trail to Bauza Cove.

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Telegraph Cove — launch point for whale watching, kayaking, fishing

Still on the list of North Island day trips this summer is Port Alice.  I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never visited Devi’s Bath or the Eternal Fountain.   And it’s been a few years since I’ve been to Alert Bay — walked through the Ecological Reserve or visited U’Mista Cultural Centre.

I’m throwing out a challenge — to explore your own corner of the world.  To family and friends we wish you a HAPPY CANADA DAY 🇨🇦

Hugs 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…

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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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New Year’s Eve without the headache?  Quite simple actually.  Stay home, drink tea and tune into CNN to see how long it takes Kathy Griffin to have Anderson Cooper giggling with embarrassment.  Less than one minute by the way.  Being three hours ahead of New York we didn’t have to force ourselves to stay up to midnight. Yup — that’s how we rolled this New Year’s Eve.

Year in review shows were a blur of conflicts & terrorism, celebrity deaths and scientific breakthroughs.  For me 2016 was made up of more highs than lows with lots of in betweens.  Cycle of life stuff.  One of the most amazing moments of my life was being part of Team Megan in the delivery room the day our grandson was born.  Our daughter was so brave and a marvel to behold from the first contractions to the moment we met the most beautiful baby in the world Bowen Michael.  I’ve gone almost cross-eyed staring at those pinchable chubby cheeks and soulful blue eyes.

Ticking off one of the biggest items from our bucket list Chris and I hopped on the Harley for the “big trip.”  See the many posts below 🙂 The whole year was broken into chunks of: planning for the trip, being on the trip and post trip.  Thankfully I blogged as we went because I couldn’t hazard a guess as to how many state lines we crossed or remember all the places we visited.  We have so many memorable moments like the impromptu bluegrass festival At Elmer’s General Store, the chef who came out to meet us when she heard we were going to blog about her homemade flapjack syrup or sharing a beer in a hotel parking lot with another motorcyclist after a torrential storm forced us off the road.

In my own “gone but not forgotten” tribute — 2016 was a sad year.  My Uncle Don Lane and then his daughter, my cousin Jennifer Lane Robinson both passed away. And who would have imagined at my age and a grandmother myself that I would be sharing the news that my 96-year-old Nana was gone.  Joan Mary Collings was the matriarch of five generations.  Celebrating her birthday in July we gathered for brunch and she reminded us of the importance of family.  Yes she lived a very long life and no it wasn’t a surprise when she died, but I felt out of sorts for a few days.  Mopey that my Nana was gone.  My last grandparent — the end of an era.  And then I smile when I think of how our daughter described her as “a real sassy molassy.”  A proper British Nana whose stern and no-nonsense manner put me on my best behaviour as a child but when I did some growing up I adored her independence and sense of humour.  She and I went for dinner occasionally when we both lived in the same city.  We would share our funny dating stories and she once tried to give my phone number to a good-looking waiter.  We were pen pals and I treasure all the letters that were signed “with fondest love Nana.”

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My last visit and hug with Nana in August

Resolutions for 2017? I’m thinking along the lines of eating healthier & trying to be more physically active.  My husband totally surprised me at Christmas with a gym bag full of work out gear, running shoes and sessions with a personal trainer.  The “transformation” starts on the 16th and I’ll let you know how that all works out.

Yesterday I got an email from myself that I’d totally forgotten about.  Futureme.org is a website where you write yourself a letter and they send it to you a year later.  Here’s the last paragraph and I still feel this way.  Happy New Year !!!

You have enough !!!! More than you ever dreamed of actually. Be grateful for the house on the beach, a girl cave for crafting, a pantry full of food, a car to get you where you want to go. And married to your bff for more than 30 years. A beautiful daughter happily married and now a wee one. JUST BE GRATEFUL. Pray more, be silly more, get outside and breathe fresh air more, get to the gym more and one more reminder WRITE MORE.

Love Me xoxoxo

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Since arriving home from “the big trip” just over a month ago, I’ve been gently easing myself back into healthier eating and more walking.  Two and a half months sitting on the back of the motorcycle and all those restaurant meals came to a screeching halt.

Yesterday was one of my favourite kind of days.  Cool and crisp.  Overcast but no raincoat required.  Happy, happy, happy.  Donning my warm hoodie and throwing on my knapsack I pretty much ran out the door.  To be outside, sniffing that glorious sea perfume.  Having been gone all summer I felt like George in “It’s A Wonderful Life” when he’s running down the main street yelling at the top of his lungs.

Hello Port McNeill seawall !!!!!

Hello you wonderful old abandoned house !!!!!

Hello big monkey tree beside the harbour office !!!!!

That beautiful red bush catches my eye every time I drive down our road.  It’s gorgeous and just so….red.  And I love that yards & doorsteps are being decorated with pumpkins and scarecrows.  First we have Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and then a very big deal for our little town HALLOWE’EN !!

And the doorway through a huge hedge has always reminded me of The Secret Garden.  The old manor was barged over from the mainland many years ago and was a b&b for 30 years.  Now it mostly sits empty.IMG_1684.JPG

While we were gallivanting across North America this summer, a new clock was erected in front of the marina.  A thank you to Gerry Furney, one of the longest serving mayors in Canada.  The clock chimes every 15 minutes and reminds me of my husband’s parents whose clock sang the very same song.

And there’s the old house I pass every time I walk downtown.  Once occupied by Olive Tunnicliffe who worked next door at the laundromat for many years.  Olive was what my daughter calls “a sassy molassy.”  Her bark was definitely worse than her bite!! Olive was a kind hearted little old lady who loved her family and friends, made great gingerbread men and knit a few million miles of yarn.  It’s sad nobody lives there now and with the broken front window I wonder what sorts of wildlife have found their way inside?

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Leaves are changing colour and carpeting yards all over town.  Another one of my favourite fall smells.  Earthy and rich !!  Soon we’ll be firing up the wood stove to keep the chill away.

I leave you with a sacred part of my walk along the seawall.  Memory benches where locals and visitors can rest for a bit and enjoy the incredible view.  This bench remembers a local woman — a wife/mother/daughter & friend and the family lovingly care for the plants and add seasonal touches.

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Wishing our Canadian family & friends a Happy Thanksgiving.  Turkey dinner is my favourite meal to make and my favourite to eat.  Thank goodness for stretchy pants !!

Blessings from the beach…

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Wow, it’s been more than a year since I’ve posted on this site.  So much has happened in our lives I hardly know where to start.  Last year we made the huge decision that it was time to close At Water’s Edge Bed & Breakfast permanently.  So at the end of September 2015 we said goodbye to our last guests.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the thousands of guests from around the world who shared our home, bits of themselves and created so many happy memories for us.

That same month our daughter Megan got married in a magical oceanfront ceremony at our place.  Our son-in-law Justin is a hard working, down to earth man who fits into our zany family with ease.  When the newlyweds returned from their Mexican honeymoon we heard the thrilling news they were expecting.  And now baby makes three.

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This is our grandson Bowen Michael — he’ll be one month old in a few days.  More than once I’ve been almost cross-eyed staring at him, watching every little movement of our adorable wee man.  His amazing facial expressions, snuffling puppy noises and very active hands and feet are fascinating.  Babies are just one more miracle I’m truly thankful for.

Retirement is an interesting transition.  Even after attending seminars and listening to others who are long since retired I fell into “the trap.”  The one where you say yes to every request and opportunity.  I didn’t realize I’d fallen in until I started having heart palpitations and assumed I had heart issues.  Nope — stress — plain and simple.  My dear and protective husband asked me to write down everything I was involved with and the list was embarrassingly long.  A few lessons I learned from the exercise.  It’s okay to say no.  No-one was upset with me for walking away from this group or that group.  They were sympathetic and wished me well.  The other huge lesson was realizing that just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you HAVE to take it on.  Choose the activities that make your heart happy.  For me it’s reading, writing, crafting and being a Grandma.

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Right now our dining room table is full of maps and brochures in preparation for our trip of a lifetime across Canada on our Harley.  Planning for 2-3 months on the road it will be the longest & least organized trip of our lives.  We have hotel rooms booked for 2 nights and then we’ll try flying by the seat of our pants.  Liberating and a little bit scary — we’ve never traveled this way before but we have lots of time and so much we want to see.  Chris and I will both use this blog as our travel diary to keep in touch with family & friends. C’mon along with us as we head off on our most excellent adventures.

Blessings from the beach…

 

 

 

 

 

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