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Archive for the ‘Bowen Island’ Category

Bonked

The day dawned bright and sunny, blue skies long overdue but the perfect antidote to the day-before-school blues.

Sadly, the glare of the light deceived a number of the feathered guests who visit our various feeding stations and this little one took a dive to the window and ricocheted on to the deck.

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Selasphorus rufus, the rufous hummingbird, so named because of the brick-red feathers on its back and sides.

It lay on its side for a few seconds and we thought its end might be nigh. Of primary importance, however, was keeping the feathered one protected from the furry ones who are keenly attracted to avian creatures which cannot become airborne. Dogs 9, chickens 2.

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But given a little pat as we enjoyed a too-rare opportunity to stroke the feathers of a hummingbird, the creature suddenly righted itself and while unsteady, managed to remain upright.

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Hummer  271And I guess we got a little annoying with our paparazzi moment and the little guy flew upwards. Unsteady however, it steered itself directly at the leaf-green structure directly ahead and then dropped down for a respite.

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Some solid attempts at taking flight…

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… and it managed to get itself over to another finger, until…

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Not airborne for very long nor for very far but somewhere sheltered and green.

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If it looks like a tree and feels like a tree…

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And that’s how they sat for the next half-hour: Homeboy in the sun, reading his homework, the little one relaxing in the warmth and safety of the leaf-green nesting spot.

A more perfect day before school could barely be imagined.

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… that we’re still not too old for an Easter egg hunt.

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The first little bunny was up early, optimistically having found the largest basket in the house.

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The second little bunny got the empty cereal box for his basket and lost no time in catching up to the first wabbit.

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The third little bunny was on his way out the door for some exercise but got distracted by the excitement and the fresh java.

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Having last year been admonished for making the hunt too easy — Mummy, we’re bigger now! — Mother Rabbit successfully stashed in sneaky places.

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Unfortunately, Mother Rabbit is apparently not as tall as she used to be.

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Kitchen aid

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In the end, the perfect cupcake eluded me and I was forced to return to a trusty oatmeal-chocolate-chip-coconut-raisin don’t-hold-the-fat standby. I understand the raw version was pretty tasty on its own.

In fact, I haven’t had this much participation in the kitchen for some time.

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The cookies are to sell for $2 each (robbery!) at a school movie-showing fundraiser. The general community loves these movie events because the parents drop off their kidlets for a child-friendly film, take solace in a quiet coffee and/or time with a newspaper, the kiddies enjoy the movie (today it’s a collections of Pixar shorts) and all is right with the world.

Dropping $2 on a sweet treat doesn’t bother anyone at all.

Thus I was compelled to look for a cookie that would stand up to a two-buck scrutiny. These blobs of batter are a substantial 1/4 cup each…

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I was informed early in the game that the adults would be more interested in the cookies than the kids but — call me crazy — I detected a modicum of interest nonetheless.

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These babies were hefty. Only nine per sheet.

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A happy sampler. With evidence.

 

 

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Eyes to see

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The Tall One has new glasses.

The old glasses were old. As in last-century old. As in before-Bowen-Island old. As in before he-got-so-tall old.

Wah! Did I mention that before?

The feet are growing, the hairs are sprouting, the voice — the voice is the hardest.

“Mum! I can’t sing the high notes anymore!”

There’s a little app on my iPhone which has recordings of his and Lulu’s voices from when they were wee — well, more wee than now, because it’s my second iPhone and they only last three years.

*sigh*

Time to talk about something else.

I have to make cupcakes for a community movie showing this afternoon. I can’t say I know the difference between a cupcake and a muffin. A cupcake sounds like something with white flour, sugar, butter, and colourful icing… Any suggestions?

I embarked on a dietary cleanse 1.5 weeks ago, the Wild Rose D-Tox. Mostly it involves not eating certain things (dairy, processed grains, yeast) and taking a few herbs with each meal. It’s not difficult and no big deal relative to how we generally eat (minus the dairy) and I was feeling pretty sanctimonious about how I wasn’t feeling anything, maybe this wasn’t doing anything useful, what about all the stuff I read about, etc.

Oh, how the mighty do fall. This past Wednesday I took to my quarters in the middle of the afternoon. Enough said.

Feeling better today thankyouverymuch, but there’s clearly something to be said for a little spring cleaning.

Happy Groundhog Day!

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Boy oh boy

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This post is a test of a different blog function. Your understanding is appreciated.

In the meantime, here’s a shot of Homeboy who, sadly, is now the exact, precise, SAME height as his mother.

She is not amused.

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Furry friends

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Mark Twain once said, If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between dog and man.

Late in the summer we acquired a pair of canine houseguests who, like a couple of rambunctious four-year-olds, have altered our daily routines in ways that have been (for the most part, in the interests of honesty) very very good.

For one, we all get a lot more exercise. Kermode here, part husky, part something yellow, part extreme hairy shedder, is the prettiest happiest boingiest dog on the block. Every morning before her walk, every morning after her walk, every time anyone returns from a 60 minute 30-minute three any time away, she springs high into the air, deftly matching nose height for nose height, without ever making bodily contact, proclaiming her absolute joy at your presence in her life.

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Chalupa, formerly known as Buddy, came to us as a plump little sausage, her neck so fat and non-existent that her collar slid forward off her head. She was so rotund she couldn’t jump. Not ‘couldn’t jump over anything’ but rather ‘couldn’t jump.’ Period.

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We’d been thinking about getting some pooch or another for a couple of years, on and off, mostly off, although in the summer the search became a little more active. One rescue organization put us in contact with another and suddenly the decision was imminent: Were we ready? Sure. How about a bonded pair? Huh?

Turns out there was a doggy duo from Prince George (several hours north) which could not be separated by request of the original owner. Mr. Ricard had needed to relinquish the dogs as he was entering a hospice and his life’s final chapter. The 6.5-year-old dogs had been his companions since the death of his wife and he did not want them separated. But no one would take the pair so they were scheduled to be euthanized.

At this point a rescue group swooped in and did just that — rescued the dogs from the jaws of, well, death. Figuring the animals would have a better chance at being adopted in Vancouver arrangements were made to fly the dogs south. However, the airline would not take the dogs on board. Why not?

Too fat to fly.

It seems the kind-hearted Mr. Ricard fed the dogs straight from the table every day and the airline was taking no chances on the overweighty ones.

So it was off to The Biggest Loser Fat-Free Farm for Dogs where it was hoped they’d divest themselves of some excess poundage. After one month the results were not impressive so the team was driven (nine long hours with a van full of yappy stressed-out dogs; these people are saints) to a second farm where they passed another two months on the doggy exercise plan.

And so to us. Would we take a pair of fat and hapless hounds, who’d already had more than their share of lifestyle challenges?

We thought about it — one dog, two dogs, really not a lot of difference when starting from zero.

A note about the names: Kermode (kerr MO dee) is the name for the native spirit bear with colouring the same as our dog. The little one arrived as Buddy but her name was easily altered to Chalupa (cha LOO pa), a Mexican food overstuffed taco. ‘Nuff said.

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Of course, living where we do — high on a rocky outcrop, surrounded by forested trails and stony beaches, we all get outside even more regularly. The dogs are shiny and svelte and Chalupa now brags a neck, a waist and the ability to leap over driftwood with ease. The two of them are a daily reminder to smile, take in the fresh air and nap as often as possible.

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They probably miss the snowy winters of Prince George, but I reckon they’ll get over it.

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Happy New Year! From beautiful Bowen Island in British Columbia, Canada, North America.

If I knew them I’d include latitude and longitude, if only to reassure I’m back on Canadian terra firma following our gastronomic adventure in the south of Spain. It turns out I failed to conclude our travelling story once I departed Barcelona and arrived in Marseilles.

What’s that? you say. There’s more?

Yes, my friends, still a week in France, more good food, some travel and warm evenings in the company of dear friends.

Kind of dizzying, really, how mind-bogglingly good our lives have been post-Orville and Wilbur.

But now, firmly rooted on the rock where we live, life runs more or less as normal.

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The Japanese have a word for what transpired out the window this morning — unkai — sea of clouds. It turned out that much of the Lower Mainland (Vancouver and environs) was cloaked in a thick blanket of grey which had settled in the night.

It must have been fog soup down below for the ferry and every few minutes we’d hear the long low drone of the foghorn, alternately warning and guiding, I guess.

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Some of the fog burned off as the sun came up but mid-morning I drove to another part of the island, a home closer to the water where they were still encased in a cloud of humidity. They stayed that way for a few hours more while I came home to blazing sunshine.

It always depends on one’s perspective, doesn’t it? That’s a quote from the book of mothers, BTW.

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Appetite for music

 

Homeboy was invited to participate in a musical ‘Masterclass’ yesterday, an environment where one plays before and is critiqued by one’s peers.

I dropped him off at his teacher’s riverside house, mentally girding my loins for the ah, feedback I would receive on my return.

My lad didn’t seem particularly peeved when I picked him up four hours later, and over the course of the bedtime routine I gleaned that the class had begun with a chocolate fondue, punctuated by four-cheese tortellini, fruit and marshmallow kebobs and oatmeal cookies. I understood a great deal of musical study had also, in fact, transpired. After all, what else could one do for four hours?

I’ve just received this photograph from his teacher, requesting some feedback on the success of the evening.

Oh that every music teacher understood her charges this well!

 

 

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Tick. One more activity down, 25 or so to go til the end of the school year.

This year has happened to be the one in which preparation for music exams has filled our lives. The little one is preparing her Grade 6 cello, the big lug for his Grade 7.

No mean feats, these. Many hours of preparing and polishing, parental driving, encouraging, feeding of chocolate, offering heavy coins (we are not above bribery rewarding hard work in this household) all to take The Team toward the final goal.

Homeboy’s teacher on Bowen Island, the sweet and lovely Alison Nixon, has charmed him from the start. With her soft Scottish brogue she has created images of flying herons, fire-leaping Polish dancers, and silver-haired maidens on horseback to assist him in feeling what the composer intended. Truly, it’s a different lad we’re hearing.

This past Friday night the wee (very wee) Little Red Church on Bowen was SRO (that’s Standing Room Only, if you’ve not spent time in the theatre biz) as all Alison’s students played their pieces for the sold-out (donation and a can of food for the food back, please) crowd. From little to big, four years to 13, these children played their hearts out for mother and father, grandparents, siblings, friends and a collection of well-wishing islanders.

I was filled with awe the entire two hours as I realized how far my two have come, how once upon a time they too were squeaking their little wooden boxes up at the front as well.

 

My beautiful boy.

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The academic year is closing in on our little household but not before a massive tidal wave of activity threatens to consume us all.

Homeboy recently returned from a week aboard the Pacific Grace, a 107-foot fishing schooner, similar to the famous Bluenose on our Canadian dime.

 

Every year, the Grade 7 and 8 students of Homeboy’s school raise funds to spend a week on this boat, plying the seas between Vancouver Island and the mainland, an area known as the Georgia Strait. This strait is dotted with small islands home to wealthy Alberta retirees and hippie types who want nothing to do with wealth and oil. Somehow the two parties manage to co-exist.

I digress.

The strait is calm and therefore an easy journey for landlubbers first finding their way to the sea.

The sailing week is run by a group called SALTS — sail and life training society — is one of those great leadership training opportunities, building relational and physical confidence in young people through sail training, shipboard life and other enviable activities.

“You’re a good cook, Mum, but this food was amazing.”

Note to self: Exhaust child with physical labour, cold temperatures and night watches  prior to feeding.

Homeboy returned to us with a mouthful of nautical terms, a commitment to earn money so he can return for a summer program (Have I got some chores for you!) and as a taller and tanned young man with a perma-grin on his sleepy face.

These pictures are the few images he brought back with him. I suspect he was too busy eating all that amazing food to bother with photography!

 

 

That’s our boy in the green sweater, just about in the middle. Don’t they look nautical?

This pic was snapped by one of the parents from our school, someone who just happened to take his boat out for a spin in a certain area on a certain day.

You can run, kids, but you can’t hide!

 

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