Thursday, March 7, 2019

Random Shots, Random Thoughts

Once I get home from a trip, I have to wonder if it really happened.  Yes, it did and we
had such a good time.  Anytime spent with either of our kids is a good time.  As I said to someone lately, how lucky we are that our kids grew up to be people we like.

Here are some photos followed by a few stories of random and fun happening on the island.  And, of course, no meal truly happens unless you have photos of it, so food photos at the end.
Liz and Bob hiked at Collier Dam in Nanaimo.  I sat reading a book as the paths were icy.
In the winter the goats-on-roof are goats-in-back-pasture but we visited them anyway.
More snow on the mountains than we had ever seen before.
This gnome at Nanoose was once a tourist attraction and is now in bad shape.  The owners of the property will destroy him at the end of April unless someone carts him away.  There is a committee trying to raise $20,000 to save his life.
Stupid freighter off Chemainus beach.

We had such interesting conversations and experiences wherever we went.  

A lady in Duncan saw me looking at the beautiful shoes in a shop window.  She must have taken me for a Duncanite (Duncantonian?). As she said to me, “did you ever imagine Duncan would be a town where shoes cost more than $400.”  It made me take a second look in the shop window, and, let me tell you, all the shoes were fabulous.

Bob and I went to pick up groceries in Chemainus and all of a sudden Bob is talking to a fellow like they are long-lost buddies.  Who is this man that Bob knows but I don't?  He was a Rotarian whom Bob had met the night before.  We ran into Eric and Linda Douglas from Victoria at The Sound of Music.  Originally they were from Weyburn and after that from Chemainus.  Those of you who knew Carlos from the confectionery on South Hill may not know that later he ran Carlos' Confectionery in Chemainus.  He's now moved back to Ecuador so if you want his famous cinnamon buns, that's where you'll have to go to get them.

Chemainus is a little town and everywhere we went, people asked why we were in town.  Since it is a real tourist town, I'm sure they know the answer is to attend the Chemainus Theatre Festival or to see the murals or to do both.  Anyway, I would always respond that we were there for the theater and that our daughter is stage managing The Sound of Music.  Inevitably the response would be something like, "oh, you are Liz's mom!  She's a sweetheart."  I would concur that she is a sweetheart even though she beat me in 12 of 24 games of Scrabble.  That makes us seem like equals but she beat me 441 to 331 in one game which really hurt as I was winning until she played bingos in her last two plays of that game.

One lady working in the antique store said, "oh, Liz's mom" and told me she was the mom of the costume designer.  I said I had just met her daughter at the buffet at the theater and her response was "no, she wouldn't be there."  I proceeded to describe the daughter right down to her nose stud and the woman said, "that's her, but she didn't tell me she would be here."  With that she asked the other clerk to mind the shop, and off she went to see her daughter.  She returned before I left the store and commented, "you know more about my daughter than I do."

Bob always wants to talk to strangers.  We were on Qualicum Beach and he talked to a stranger who was visiting from Sydney Australia.  That fellow wandered off and not thirty steps later Bob talked to another stranger and that one was from Melbourne, Australia.  It was a neat coincidence.

However, without a doubt, the biggest experience of the trip wasn't The Sound of Music, it wasn't seeing our daughter (sorry, Liz), and it wasn't beach time.  It was going to the Chemainus Salvation Army Thrift Store.  Elizabeth told me that it is considered the best thrift store on the island and that because new items are put out on Monday when the store is closed, people line up before the store opens on Tuesday.  Yah, right!  (sarcasm) before I checked it out and  Yah, right!! (stupendous belief) after I checked it out.

I went to see for myself and fifteen minutes before opening time there were about twenty people lined up.  One lady came RUNNING down the street to get in line.  When the store opened, you could tell people knew which part of the store they wanted to be in.  A lady right ahead of me got two incredible silver Celtic bracelets and a silver Celtic necklace.  I didn't see the prices, but I saw her huge grin.  The whole place had a party atmosphere with people chatting, shopping, laughing, shopping, showing treasures to other people, exclaiming over others' finds.  If I lived there, I would be a Tuesday morning regular.

We are so happy we'll be back to Chemainus in the summer.

And now on to the food.

Bob and I had to cancel our trip to Chemainus at Christmas when I was called to have my hip replacement.  Air Canada told us we would have full vouchers for the cost of our tickets.  When we rebooked, they informed us there was a $300 rebooking fee.  We attempted to convince them this hadn't been part of the deal, but we lost that argument.  They said the best they could do was put us in premium seats on the return flight from Vancouver to Regina.  I thought "big deal ... two inches more of seat space and a free bottle of water."  Since I'm ethically opposed to bottled water, it didn't seem like great compensation.

However, we discovered the premium seats included a meal served on real plates with real cutlery.  The meals were adequate and I like to refer to them as our "$150-each-meals."

We ate a lot of great food on the island and I rated the best from Thai Pinto in Chemainus.  Try the place if you are ever in the area.  There was plenty for leftovers the next day.  (Note to self:  google how to make carrot flowers so as to impress the grandkids.)

Some of our meals and all of our coffee shop excursions included Scrabble.  Here are our morning crepes at Ironworks Crepery in Ladysmith.
Vacations are fun.  Coming home isn't bad either.  Until next time, Chemainus.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

I Need to Learn New Things

I’ve discovered that although I know lots about blogging on my PC, I know next to nothing about blogging from my iPad.  Why didn’t I spend some time figuring it out while I was at home instead of being clueless now?  The last post I thought I saved as a draft only to find I had posted it before I had fine tuned it.  I may go back and edit it later.

Before that, let me say that Bob and I had a wonderful day in Sidney yesterday with a dear relative of ours.  She sold her house in Saanich and now lives in an beautiful condo in Sidney.  Not only is it less than two blocks from the water, it is less that two blocks from five thrift stores.  Neither of those facts impressed Bob as they did me.

She also lives a block and a half from Fairway Foods and that’s a grocery store that makes food browsing fun.  They have a great international section and they have foods for every known food trend.

We walked along the water and, even being the ocean lover that I am, I had to admit it was darn cold. However, Sidneysiders were out in droves with their dogs and I had a number of fun chats with random strangers.  How do people start conversations with strangers if one or both don’t have dogs?

I could easily live in Sidney and be a happy soul.  (Please ignore the fact that I am a happy soul wherever I am so that seems a moot point.)  The flower shops had flowers on the sidewalks.  Lavender was blooming in flowerbeds.  Many, many people were on the sea glass beach doing a sea-glass-stoop.  I can’t wait to introduce Nathan and Riley to sea glass hunting this summer.

Back to dogs!  Not only are dogs everywhere outside, they seem to be everywhere inside.  I’m pretty
sure you still can’t have dogs in shops and restaurants in Saskatchewan, but you sure can here.  They
have been in restaurants, bakeries, and most stores.  One lady had a chihuahua on a leash in a clothing store.  The minuscule dog couldn’t have been more than eight inches tall and I wondered why she wasn’t worried someone would inadvertently step on him.  There was a behemoth of a dog at our seaside restaurant at lunch.  He didn’t have anything to indicate he was a service dog, but he was certainly well behaved.  He was under the table relaxing where our Finn would have been dipping and diving at the end of his leash hoping for fallen food.

Ahh, the ocean!  Do all prairie people long for it or am I a changing whose real parents were lighthouse keepers rather than those two wonderful people who raised me in the heart of the prairies?  

Today we saw The Sound of Music for the second time in a few days and it was even better than the first time which was pretty much perfect in every way.  I would have paid the full price just to
hear the one song by the Mother Abbess.  All the actors were stellar and I admire the children playing
the Von Trapp kids as they are doing all these shows while keeping up with school work and other activities.  The stage manager keeps it all organized and makes it fun but serious business for the children.  I think she should have a raise!

Not only do Bob and I have seats at the Cugnet Centre, we also have one here. so after the show we checked it out.

In other news, Rush won their game last night even when we weren’t there to cheer them on.  Riley and Nathan must have cheered double for us.  Not only that, we understand fans of Rush donated $29,000 to Telemiracle simply by throwing donations into buckets that were passed around.  Yay, Rush!  Yay, Rush fans!

Bob’s been wearing his Rush bunny hug and it got a response from one fellow.  He saw it and started thumping his heart.  It was a proud moment here in BC.

So as not to drive myself crazy, I left this part void of photos and am adding them here now.  Please endure.  The photos are totally random.

 We hope your Sunday was as sunny as ours.

This summer I am going to read a book on this bench.  Maybe I'll lick an ice cream at the same time as the ice cream shop is right beside the bench.
Ice cream bear.  My kind of bear!

Friday, March 1, 2019

What We See

We saw sunshine today, but because of forest shadows all around, it takes a long time for snow to melt.  Bob won’t be golfing on this trip on the golf course across from our hotel.  However, it is a mecca for robins and I’m appreciating that.

Bob and Liz went for a hike and saw a deer so close they didn’t need to zoom in on it.

There’s still snow in patches, but there are also flowers showing they can survive BC snow dumps.

We were down by the water at Ladysmith.  Liz is disgusted that freighters can now be in the area where she loves to kayak.  We don’t think it’s a good example of progress either.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

From This to This

We left the -24 Celcius land that is called Saskatchewan and headed to the balmy land of +6 Celcius called Vancouver Island.  By carefully editing Vancouver Island photos, I can lead you to believe that all their snow has melted from the record-breaking snows they had a few weeks ago.

Believing in full disclosure though (unlike the leader of a country to the south of us), I will admit there is still snow, not only in the trees, but in other areas as well.

Just the same, we are happy that we went from this ....
... to this
Those of you who receive my Christmas letter, will remember me singing the praises of Air Canada. 
 We were supposed to be here for Christmas but then I was called for my hip replacement.  Air 
Canada let us know we had full credit for our flights.

Happily we went to rebook.  Unhappily we were told, “surely we forgot to mention the $300 rebooking fee.”  Well, yah, you did forget.  “Oops, sorry.  Yes, you must pay us an extra $300 if you 
want to use your voucher.”  Grrrr.  $300 is like the cost of a flight.

What could we do?  We wanted to see this child.
Plus, I wanted to play Scrabble with her at breakfast...
and at supper.
The added adventure to our travels here was that we 
had only 35 minutes to change planes in Vancouver.  We were told that would be adequate time.  Our flight out of Regina was delayed about half an hour, but the Air Canada agent assured us there were strong tailwinds and we would be okay.  We got to Vancouver with next to no time before 
our Vancouve to Nanaimo flight.

We asked where our gate was and ran down two moving walkways, through a door, down a ramp, past three gates, and got to the right gate.  That’s when I learned a person with a hip replacement can sprint.

The agent told us that we made the flight by one minute.  Two disgruntled fellows looked at us.  Had we not shown, they would have got on as standby-by.  The pilot was waiting at the steps to the plane. He followed us onto the plane, the doors shut, and we were off.

The end of that story is that our flight was supposed to arrive in Nanaimo at 3:01 and it arrived in Nanaimo at 3:01.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Travel ... Travel Down Memory Lane

My friend Glenda suggested I do a blog post on a different kind of travel.  It's travel by my usual travel mate, but in this case, it's travel down memory lane.
Bob's job at the Weyburn Comp ends at the end of June and some of his work friends hosted a memorable night which can't be surpassed.

Has he changed much in 50 years?  He has in that he had to wear ties in his early days and now he can be a casual fellow.
The event was Saturday.  At breakfast on Sunday morning our family sat around trying to find the pickiest little thing that could have been better.  Not one of the seven of us could come up with a single thing.

What did these generous and important friends plan for him?


A limo pickup for the whole family:
The limo took us to WCS's original gym where our friend, the talented Vanessa Flavel, took family photos.  Bob spent a lot of his career teaching in this gym so it was so appropriate.

Next we were taken to the Cugnet Centre for the evening's festivities.  There Bob got to walk the red carpet.
I have no photo of the food prepared and served by the McKenna caterers, but it was delicious.

Dessert was an amazing cupcake tower made by Rebecca Olsen.  
I don't know how the organizers got permission for a bar (Bribes?  Lies?  Graft?  Sweet smiles?)  In any case, there was a bar ably run by Taylor and Doug.
That bar and these adorable kids ...
gave me one of the warmest memories of the night.  

Riley needed a drink late in the evening while speeches were going on.  So Mommy and Daddy could keep listening to the speeches, Nathan held Riley's hand and led her over to the bar.  There he had a serious conversation with the bartenders and we could see them leaning over and discussing his request.  They handed over a drink, Nathan checked it out, approved, and held Riley by the hand to bring her back to the table.  He is such a good big brother!

I also have to say that both of them were well behaved for the whole evening.  At age three Riley doesn't always have a nap anymore and she didn't on Saturday.  Even without a nap, she remained alert, cheerful and sweet from the start to our return home at 10 p.m.

STARS entertained and pleased Bob with his favorite Country Roads.  We all loved their God Save Bob King.  Thanks, Colleen, to you and all your students for this great part of the evening.

There were speeches and Bob listened to them from his throne.
Colleen Weimer and Joanne Jensen, two of the hosting committee, chaired the program.  Thanks, ladies.

This photo of speech giver Kelly Glaspey and Bob has to be the winning photo of the evening.
Bob had the last word.
In case you are wondering about Bob's attire, I have to tell you this.  He wore this suit 37 years ago at our wedding and he wore it nine years ago at Rob and Crystal's wedding.  He admits that at Rob and Crystal's wedding, he couldn't exhale too much.  Now he wore it for a third time and it fit comfortably.

As well, Bob doesn't have glasses right now because he had cataracts removed from both eyes.  I think that makes him look really young.

There was a photo booth that was very popular throughout the evening.
One of the props came home with us and it has been appearing in various places.
Bob is so blessed and so grateful for this event which made it possible for him to visit with important people from all facets of his life:  his fellow teachers past and present, his sports, culture, and recreation gang, his various committee friends, Rotarians, and church people ... and, yes, even two friends from his carnival days.

As if the evening wasn't blessing enough, this rainbow ended at our house on Sunday night.  Bob's friends and colleagues are his pot of gold.
I hope it isn't too crass to mention cards and gifts.  Bob has been overwhelmed with the personal notes in the many cards he's received.  I made a beautiful display of them in our living room, but one WHOOSH of wind through the open window destroyed my creative efforts.  Now they are displayed like this:
One of the things I love about Bob (and which can sometimes drive me and the kids crazy) is that he wants to talk to all people and to know their life stories.  It drives us crazy because it always delays us.  We were especially annoyed when the kids were young and we would be ready to leave campgrounds and he still had a dozen people he wanted to meet.

Some teachers only talk to teachers, but Bob likes knowing everyone who walks through the doors of WCS.  One such person is the man who fills the drink machines.  Imagine Bob's surprise when that same man gave him this wonderful retirement gift!  It was unexpected and is much appreciated.

My phone photography isn't great because the part that looks orange here is a lit up neon red.  Riley wanted us to hang it in the living room, but we found the perfect spot in the kitchen.