Tag Archives: B.C.

The Big City!

Okay, long time no post, I know. Busy busy busy! (in every good little way) So to do a little catchup here…

Beacon Hill Park!

Beacon Hill Park!

For our Spring Break, which was a luxurious 2 weeks long (we only got 1 wk in Toronto), one of our excursions was to the big smoke of Victoria for a few days. Even though our province’s capital is but a hamlet compared to the mammoth excess that is the GTA, it still feels metropolish* compared to our sleepy little island.

* trademark pending

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This just says "70s" to me. The Royal BC Museum.

This just says “70s” to me. The Royal BC Museum.

I can’t tell you how lovely it was to be back in the bustle, waiting for the green light before crossing the street, and walking everywhere! Except for hikes or the occasional dog walk, on Saltspring we never walk anywhere! (And in Toronto we were the queens of foot power/bike power.) We enjoyed the luxury of staying in an apartment that was a short walk from all that we wanted to do, namely Beacon Hill Park, the RBCM, Imax theatre, legislative building, Miniature World, Bug Zoo… yup, we did the full tourist trip.

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Oh, and did I mention going to Booster Juice? My accomplice misses her favourite smoothies something dreadful and there’s an outlet just 2 blocks from where we were staying!

The new Booster Juice poster girl.

The new Booster Juice poster girl.

Beautiful Victoria, city of flowers and totem poles!

cherry blossoms

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Unhand that girl!

Unhand that girl!

These photos were taken mid-April, hence the jackets, but it was lovely weather. (Right now we’re digging out shorts and sandals! Wheeee!)

My girl floated about declaring that she wanted to move to Victoria and live in an apartment! Until she realized that in an apartment you’re not allowed to dance and stomp about…

So we quite enjoyed our taste of the city – we’re heading back very soon, actually.

B.C. : the Basics

Last week my publisher, Dundurn, asked me to write up a little something for their blog about life in B.C. I’ve also posted it on my official ‘author blog’ but I suddenly realized it fits even better here:

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Perched on a mountain in B.C.

Eight months ago I lived in the west end of Toronto in an old brick house with a yard so small I could cut the grass with scissors. Today I’m in a wood frame cottage surrounded by mossy trees, perched on the side of a mountain on Saltspring Island, B.C.

A bit of a change.

I haven’t been here very long but I’ve noticed a few basic things about British Columbia:

1.     It’s green. Freakishly green.

2.     And damp. If you stand still for too long moss will grow on you.

3.     Ravens’ wings make a loud whooshing sound.

4.     This is the only place where I have ever been asked in casual conversation if I own a chainsaw.

5.     Everyone backs into parking lot spots.

6.     Raccoons in the wild are only half the size of their cheezie-bloated Toronto cousins.

7.     Everyone’s got a bear story.

8.     Santa Claus travels by float plane.

Saltspring Island is a weird, unique little place, but in many ways it lives up to every B.C. cliché. Nobody is on time for anything. Nobody locks their cars, and many actually leave their keys in the ignition. The guy at the next table in the coffee shop could be a millionaire, or he could live in a cave. When you meet someone new here, you have absolutely no idea what outfield world-view they’re about to throw at you.

As for writing in B.C., I now stare out my office window at trees instead of buildings, and my concentration is shattered by ravens flapping around instead of sirens. My brain is still settling into the new rhythm. For a long time I found the energy of the city invigorating. The buzz and hum of people doing things – working, hustling, rushing about, and talking talking talking – carried me along for many years, but lately I realized that the city was just making me resentful, stressed and antsy.

I needed to find a quiet, green, bird-twittery hideaway and this place fits the bill. I don’t know much about the writing community in B.C. yet, though they tell me you can’t throw a rock on this island without hitting a writer. And I haven’t been here long enough to have a full B.C.-inspired novel in my head, but my next book will probably include at least one character covered in moss.

Where We At, Springwise

I know I tend to grab the camera every time the sun comes out for a beautiful day, which can give a fairly skewed impression of B.C. weather. For the most part this is what winter looked like this year:

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I took a ferry on January 21 in some kind of super-fog. (Just one day after this epic day.)

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Seriously, I looked over the rail and couldn’t even see the water.

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I still feel pretty lucky though. The winters are mild. Snow and ice may be flying around the country this week, but here is the last brief glimpse we had of the white stuff – a mere dusting in the air on March 21:

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No sign of it the next morning, as we waited for the ferry:

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Cherry blossoms that week in Victoria.

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There have been daffodils and other flowers all around the island for a good 3 weeks or more, however up on our mountain, we’ve only just gotten to this stage:

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Almost almost almost!

Yes, my bulb planting in the fall has actually produced results! I am gobsmacked.

It helps that the deer don’t like to eat them. My crocuses on the other hand… apparently they are delicious, because there isn’t a single one to be seen.

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Almost almost almost here!

a Sunday Walk with Grandpa

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the stars of the show! we came to see Harlequin Ducks and there they were!

the stars of the show! we came to see Harlequin Ducks and there they were!

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Rain. Rain. Rain. Snow. Slush. Rain. Rain. Repeat.

NOT me today.

NOT me today.

Just when I was thinking that living here had no downside, we get a day like today, which can really only be described as über-crappy.

Rain. Rain. Rain. Rain. Rain.

It was so miserable I didn’t even take a photo of it.

(The boss, on the other hand, was quite pleased with the weather because they got to stay inside at lunch time and watch a movie!)

I can hear it now… pounding pounding pounding relentlessly on the roof…  aieeeee!

former BC logo, recently discarded, presumably on a day like today!

former BC logo, recently discarded, presumably on a day like today!

Resolution: More Adventures

Our first New Year’s Resolution was “More Dance Parties”, and yesterday the Boss added this resolution. So for our last, grey day of vacation we went out to have an adventure.

She had the exploring gear.

She had the exploring gear.

I carried the lunch.

I carried the lunch.

We started up the slope behind our house.

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We suspect that these rocks were once trolls who were caught when the sun came up and turned them to stone. Can you see the faces? (Trolls can have more than one head.)

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And I was going to spend the afternoon cleaning house! I’m adding my own resolution – follow the Boss’ lead on the daily agenda, especially on weekends and holidays. She always has the best ideas!

 

Snow – Housebound, With Projects

I’m so glad to be proven wrong – down below us the snow is nearly all gone, but up here on the mountain it lasted through the night and all of today as well. It’s plus 2, so it has continued to melt slowly all day. I can hear little streams trickling and running everywhere in the thick brush, invisible but noisy.

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I notice that the cedars have all shaken off their snow, with those big floppy branches of theirs.

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My darling little workshop/office…

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Too bad I couldn’t get out there to work today – the Boss was home from school recuperating from a bad cold. Even though she lost her voice for the past couple of days, that did not prevent her from constantly trying to tell me things. Once when I was outside fetching wood – how rustic! – I heard a knocking… I thought it was a woodpecker but it was just her in the doorway, imperiously rapping on the side of the house to get my attention!

Even though we didn’t go out to play in the white stuff today, we were quite industrious. Prompted by an app which rewards (virtual) badges for completing challenges, the Boss – who would tackle advanced calculus if there was a badge to be earned – took over the kitchen to complete “Learn How to Use a Knife” and “Make Stew” challenges. (Fantastic app: DIY.org. Suitable for age 5 to adult.)

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After this exercise – an excellent lesson for me in when-to-just-take-a-deep-breath-and-walk-away – she wanted to move on to the Stew challenge.  So I gave her a few more potatoes to cut up, and coached her as she chucked a whole lot of stuff into the slow cooker, et voila! She made supper!

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Any impulse to learn to cook MUST be encouraged in any way possible, I figure. And while these things totally depend on the focus, maturity, and klutz-level of the individual child, it seems to me that 6 is a fairly good age to allow a child to handle large knives.

One last Christmas baking project for the evening and the day was done:

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Best quote of the day from the Boss: “I didn’t know what you were going to say next, but I knew it wouldn’t be important.” (I’m so glad she’s gotten her voice back.)

And one last highlight of the day: I finally caught a glimpse of deer dashing through our yard – three of them bounding up the driveway and disappearing behind the workshop. Lots of other little tracks in the snow, crisscrossing the yard – we must become wildlife detectives next.

One fun challenge follows the next. Life is good.

Santa Comes to Saltspring

What a gorgeous day! We walked down to the dock at about five minutes to 1, and Santa flew in pretty much on time. The small crowd greeted him, high fives were exchanged, and we were strolling outta there by about half past one.

A little easier to take than the cold, crowded marathon event of the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto…

Step 89: Drive a B.C.-esque car

Which I do!!

In Toronto, when I told people that I was buying a twenty-year-old Volvo with the intent to drive it to B.C. they looked at me like I was nuts. Driving it around the city I noticed a few other similar models, but I still felt fairly unique for not buying the ubiquitous black or silver mini-van that line the streets of my old neighbourhood..

Out here in Lotus Land, driving an ancient Volvo wagon is akin to camouflage! I feel absolutely invisible, especially since I jettisoned the Ontario plates in favour of B.C. ones. I’ve gone deep undercover now.

If You Can’t Keep Your Wits About You, At Least Have Some Idea of their Whereabouts

Our belongings arrived on Saltspring Island some time in mid July.

We drove into Mom and Dad’s driveway on July 27th.

And yet, on November 13th, I’m still awaiting the arrival of my brain.

I see it nowhere in my packing list app…

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I’m finally making an effort though, I’m acting as if my brain was here in hopes that it will come out of hiding. I’ve finally set up my office and today was my first day of turning my back on my mess of a house, and walking out to the workshop where my office is, to sit at my desk at 9 a.m. sharp.

Business as usual!

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I am struck most right now by the view out the window, which looks the same as the scenic photo on my calendar. I’m living inside a calendar photo!