Friday, September 28, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Harry Potter

I am almost finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I have been so reluctant to finish it knowing it is the last. The only thing that sustains me is the fact that J.K. Rowling is writing a new novel and maybe it will be as good or with luck better than Harry Potter. Although I can't imagine how. In the meantime I read one page at a time savoring them and reluctant to give up Hagrid, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore & Harry for good. People,I have discovered, either love Harry Potter books or they hate them. Some dislike them for religious reasons and others just find them of no interest, but fortunately for kids in this world Rowling came along and inspired a whole generation to get reading at time when kids had been stagnating in front of the TV or computer screen. Rowling managed to spark the imagination and build a fire for reading inside young and old alike.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hiking with Wolves!


I have been obsessed with wolves ever since I was a kid and read Farley Mowatt's book "Never Cry Wolf". His writing about these interesting animals made me feel a keen connection with them and any time I see an article about them I tend to read it. On Tuesday when I read an article on Canada Online about hiking with wolves in the wilderness near Golden BC I knew it was made for me.
A place called The Northern Lights Wildlife Centre near Golden BC in the Canadian Rockies offers a one and half to three hour hike with wolves and all the photographs you can snap in that length of time. I have been dreaming of it ever since. The center promotes wolf and bear conservation through education. It helps to dispel the myths and fairy tales about these magnificent animals. Wolves are primeval wild dogs and are the ancestors of our best friends the domestic dog. ( Yes that means you Lucy!) Wolves are not protected in BC and their numbers are diminishing. When I traveled in the Yukon I would hear the wolves howling at night, but never got a glimpse of one. Finding out about this place has given me hope that I may yet see one before they become extinct thanks to uneducated people killing them with out reason. I am hoping to find three other people to join me on this adventure next year!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Little Squirrel Pie Anyone?


Along with fall comes squirrel season. The approaching cold weather and abundance of hazel nuts on the tree in my neighbors back yard means we have plenty of squirrels . The squirrels drive Lucy mad. She can't catch them and she can't climb trees. I swear the critters take great delight in taunting Lucy. They will sit on the high branches of the tree and drop things on Lucy's head while she sits agitated and crying underneath. I watched this all take place today and couldn't help but wonder what purpose squirrels serve. I mean they are cute and they can be very entertaining, but why haven't people put them to better use. Then I found this recipe for Squirrel Skillet Pie! Apparently it tastes like rabbit something I find amusing because I would rather eat a squirrel than a rabbit! I thought I would post this recipe just in case anyone would like to try it.
1 squirrel, cleaned and cut up
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt Water to barely cover
1/2 cup celery (2 oz/56 g), chopped
1/4 cup (2 oz/220 g) butter or margarine
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) onion, minced
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz/38 g) sweet red or green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz/38 g) flour
Salt and pepper
2 packages canned, ready-to-bake biscuits

Cover squirrel pieces with salted water. Add chopped celery, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender. Remove the meat, but save the cooking liquid. When the meat has cooled, pull it from the bones in fairly large pieces. Set aside.

In a large iron skillet, melt butter or margarine over lo heat. Add onion and peppers and cook about 5 minutes, until onion is transparent but not browned. Blend in flour and cook until mixture bubbles, stirring constantly. Pour in 2 cups (16 fl oz/473 ml) cooking liquid. Cook until thick and smooth, stirring constantly.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add meat and reheat to boiling. Turn off heat. Top with canned biscuits and bake at 350° F (177° C) for 10-15 minutes, until biscuits are browned.


Bon Appetit

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn

Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run.
John Keats

It is official - fall has arrived! I have been denying the demise of summer all week even though the temperatures have dropped and it has been raining. I have a love hate relationship with fall. I love the way the leaves on the trees turn red and gold and brown and the wind increases and the leaves fall to the ground in great mounds that make crunching noises while you walk on them. I love the smell of wood smoke drifting from my neighbor's chimneys when fireplaces are lit to keep out the Autumn chill. However, fall here in BC is far too short. Fall is like a bridge, that I am forced to cross over, from the warm days of summer to the cold wet days of winter and with each passing day I am more and more reluctant to get to the other side. I stubbornly continue making plans for picnics and trips to the beach even though the weather rarely cooperates and I know that the sun will set far too quickly and our coats will never get taken off. Fall is also the season of pumpkins in the fields and new apples fresh from the trees. I would love the fall with all the passion in me if it just wasn't the season before winter.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Time to go Home

Our last day on Gambier was a little cooler than it had been, but the sun was up and by late afternoon it was toasty. We had such a good time on the island we all hated to leave, but reluctantly we packed our bags, cleaned the cabin and lugged all our stuff to the dock. The Apadoca was due in around six in the evening, but was about a half hour late. No one cared. We sat on the dock watching the last rays of sunshine sparkle on the water. Lucy was tired after another day of constant fishing in the bay so was grateful to lay at my feet and wait and when the Apadoca showed up she jumped on board like an old pro without a moments hesitation.
The evening was one of those very special nights here on the coast where the sun slowly sinks all the while casting lights and shadows making everything around seem even more special. I was lucky enough to be able to sit on the open back of the boat and while Lucy snoozed at my feet I show over 70 pictures. Some I just shot blind in hopes of getting the right light at the right moment. At times I would quit snapping pictures just to gaze at the dazzling beauty all around me.
Eventually we arrived at Sunset Marina and while the girls lugged the cooler, sleeping bags and back packs up to the car I stayed on the dock watching and taking pictures hoping that my batteries would last till the last rays dipped behind the mountains.
**This is the last of three entries on Gambier Island


Pictures can now be viewed on Catz Photo Page at Flickr

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Brigade Bay, Eagles & Finding Lost Lake

Brigade Bay is about a 45 minute walk from Long Bay. The walk is very lovely as it takes you through a wonderful stand of moss covered trees and the ground is covered in Maidenhair Ferns making you feel that you are in some enchanted forest. Any moment you think you might have a Unicorn pop up some where with a fairy riding on his back. At the far end of the walk, just before the bay there is a lovely stand of poplars.
The first day we strolled over to Brigade Bay it was very warm, but none of us thought to bring our bathing suit. After a few leisurely hours on the beach alternately day dreaming and reading Harry Potter I got the idea that a swim with Lucy was definitely in order and as neither of my daughters would volunteer to run back to the cabin to fetch my suit I peeled off my shorts and top and took the plunge in my undies much to the horror of my daughters. The water was lovely and everyday there after we walked over (with our bathing suits) for a cool dip. One afternoon we decided to have a small fire on the beach and roast wieners and marshmallows for our lunch. Yum - why does this always taste so good out there?
The bay itself is surrounded by rocky bluffs and adding to the delight of the place is all the eagles that constantly circle over the bluffs. These are Golden Eagles, not Bald Eagles and they are in abundance on the island. One afternoon I decided to try and climb some of the bluffs to take some pictures and see if I could get closer to where the Eagles were. My daughters declined the extra exercise and it seemed not safe for Lucy to come so I set off with my walking stick and camera through a field all the while being watched silently by a doe hiding in the shoulder high grass. . The bluffs were not that difficult to climb and I managed to get some lovely pictures including one of my daughters laying on the beach with Lucy completely absorbed in fishing in the water. So high was I that my daughters did not even notice me on the bluff. I did not climb to the top however because I felt that is was not safe to do alone so I have left that as a challenge for another day.
Last spring when I first went to the island I discovered a hiking trail to a place called Lost Lake, but the weather and the path were in too bad a shape to try it. This time I was determined to find Lost Lake and so the second day Alana, Lucy and I headed out with a sandwich for us and snacks for Lucy to find the lake. The path there was rocky and almost all up hill. There were many trees across the path that we had to climb over or go under and the path itself was easily lost if you didn't keep your eye on the blue markers on the trees. Although the day was very sunny and very warm inside the forest the trees made such a canopy that you could hardly see the sky in places. I was hot though and I was beginning to worry that it would be too hard on Lucy if we went much further with out finding the lake when all of a sudden the air seemed to change subtly and I noticed that the path was covered in deer prints so I was pretty sure that we were almost there. Finally we emerged from the forest to a beautiful little lake that had lily pads all around the edge. It was beautiful and quiet and we were happy that we had persevered to see this lovely spot. Lucy was just overjoyed to be able to cool off in the lake before the hike back. As we were leaving we saw a sign for another trail from the lake to Douglas Bay and we later found out that it was only a forty five minute hike from where we were, but that too will have to wait for hopefully another time.
I have put up new pictures on the Flickr Badge and tomorrow I will put up the pictures of our trip back on a beautiful sunny evening.


Note: On the map above Long Bay is the finger off of Port Graves Bay

Pictures can now be viewed on Catz Photo Page at Flickr



Saturday, September 15, 2007

Longing for Long Bay on Gambier Island

Well the fund raiser is over. The blackberry cobbler by some miracle turned out great. Our team worked from early in the morning till almost one o'clock in the morning and I was dead tired. Worse was the pain in my back, legs and ankle that kept me awake for most of the night. Working with Bob, Brenda, Ray, Lynda, Janis & Carla was a real treat. They were real troopers and I am grateful to everyone of them for all the laughs and fun that they each in their own way created that made the work go faster and easier. Not to mention that little bit of private stock that Bob always keeps in the kitchen frig for us workers.
Today I worked on finishing up the photo's of our trip to Long Bay. It made me long for the quiet island life that the Gambier Island Sea Ranch affords the people who live there or, like us, are lucky enough to get an invitation to visit.
Gambier Island is about 15 minutes from Sunset Marina where the Apadoca the water taxi picks us up. The trip over is very beautiful and only Lucy gets a little upset, however this time she got very brave about the whole thing and even stood up on the back deck to have a look around while I took some photo's.
Life on the GISR is really ideal for those who have homes there. The ranch is a working farm. Every year they buy sheep, pigs and turkeys. They raise them and sell the meat to the people who live there. As well, there are chickens for fresh eggs (delicious) and horses for riding, although I have never seen these horses do anything but eat in the pasture!
The island has a lot of deer on it and we were not off the boat for two hours before I snapped a doe watching me walk the road around the bay. A few minutes later Lucy spied and chased a buck that leaped the nearest fence with little or no effort leaving Lucy in his dust. We were also warned that a cougar had been sighted and our friends daughter had seen signs of bear on the trail to Brigade Bay something else we would have to watch out for especially with Lucy. As well we were told that the ranch caretaker had shot and killed a wolf trying to kill the lambs this summer!
The cabin (yeah right!) that we stayed in looks right down onto the wharf and boat dock. It has terraced decks on the front and on the back with a home made wood burning hot tub on the top deck that we sat in every evening and looked over the bay and watched the stars sparkle over head while listening to the rhythmic sounds of the water in the bay. In the morning we drank our coffee on the front deck while watching the tide come in and the sun rise over the bay.
Bob left us each a fishing rod and every evening before dinner we would go down on the docks and fish. Karen had not done that since she was a little girl and she fell in love with it. I was the only person who caught anything and that was a small flounder that my daughter declared was too ugly to keep so we tossed him back to live another day. The fun was really in the fishing not the catching anyways! To add to our fun of fishing the same cranes would show up every night and watch us from the dock railings before screeching their way across the bay.
We also collected oysters from the bay in the morning and dropped a crab trap off the dock in hopes of having a seafood feast for dinner. I cooked the oysters on the half shell covered with bacon and cheese and just a drop of hot sauce - delicious ! The crab traps however never produced anything big enough to cook and eat.
Even as I write this I can taste the salt in the air and smell the sweetness of fresh clean air.
Because I took almost three hundred photo's I culled them down to about a hundred and fifty I have broken them into sets and put up the first set.
Next post I will put of more pictures of parts of the island.
Picture Collection can now be seen at Catz Photo page at Flickr

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blackberry Cobbler

In a very weak moment I suggested that we have fresh blackberry cobbler for our fund raiser tomorrow evening. You know the whole west coast thing... wild salmon fresh BC grown produce and locally picked blackberries. Nice idea huh! I even said that I and another friend would pick all the berries. However, I went on holidays and my friend ended up picking all of the berries so now I am stuck cooking the cobbler.
I really hate to tell people that I have never made blackberry cobbler before let alone make it for sixty plus people! And really I have to be honest I only said it because I am so sick of the same Costco brownie bites and dates squares for dessert. Truth is I don't really need to eat dessert. I mean I really really don't need dessert.
So... wish me luck.
A few well placed prayers wouldn't hurt either!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bambi & Scruffy


This is just too cute!

Looking for My Retirement Tent

I haven't been back a week and I am rushed off my feet. I decided that I really hate having to get up early in the morning, but usually I love to wake up early in the morning. I hope that makes sense to every one. I mean there is such a big difference in waking up at six am in a beautiful location to listen to the birds and watch the sun rise. Here, at home, the birds sing, but you are hard pressed to hear them over the screech of brakes going down the hill a block over. I have decided that I am going to start looking seriously for that place in the country. Today I don't even care if that is a tent in the woods as long as I don't have to live in the city any more.
On the up side- the weather here has been beautiful. Very warm for this time of year and I hope that it lasts for a couple more weeks.
In between being busy I have almost finished uploading my pictures and cleaning them up. I will have them up by the end of the weekend. I sit and look at them every now and then so I can remember how relaxed and happy I was there. It motivates me to change my life. However, I have to admit that I agreed to take on a project for another constituency starting this weekend. I am so ashamed of myself.
What on earth made me say yes?!?! Especially as it means that I will end up working almost all weekend!!! Stupid!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Oh Yes! I am back!!!!!!!

The noise and smell of pollution are constant reminders today that my holiday is over. Work is calling and I have already gotten a start on that. I wish the days of sunshine, sweet salt air and skies filled with sunshine by day and stars by night could be with me forever, but life intrudes.
Today I got back to taking care of those I take care of.
Before I went away I felt that was all I did was take care of others. Some of whom seemed to not appreciate it at all. Now, I have had some space and time to think and I realize how terribly I have neglected myself in the last two years. Even when I badly sprained my ankle I allowed myself less than two weeks before I was back walking Lucy on that foot and lugging groceries around for my Aunt. I realize that I cannot and should not do those kind of things anymore. I am just not up to it so I will need to set some priorities for my life in the months ahead. First priority is to start seriously looking after myself. Even the simple things like taking a long hot bath with candle light or listening to music in the evenings, going for a stroll to enjoy the day or evening, or even spending time with friends sharing a good meal and a laugh have escaped me in the quest for a just society.
Fat chance! Who every said life was just? And why am I always seeking justice for everyone?
Somewhere along the way you begin to believe that maybe there can be justice for all and our desperation to make things good for others gets in the way of what is ultimately good for us. So after this weekend I will spend the first part of my week planning a schedule that includes time out for me and me alone. I will say no to anything that encroaches on that time and should I start posting things about being so over worked that I am exhausted I hope one of my friends out there in cyber world remind me to read this post.
Now I have lots of great pictures to share with everyone and stories of bonfires on the beach and swimming in my underwear to tell, but it will have to wait for a bit till I get the dirty laundry sorted, the sleeping bags tucked away and a new collar for Lucy because the salt water destroyed hers.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRANCES!

Wishing a very Happy Birthday to my
Friend,
Bosom Buddy,
Crony,
Sidekick,
Accomplice,
Pal,
Peer,
Confidante,
Chum!
Hope your birthday is as special as you are!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm Off to Gambier!

I have been running around buying groceries, finding sleeping bags and packing for myself and Miss Lucy. We are all off to Gambier Island thanks to the generous offer to use their "cabin". Every time they use the word "cabin" to describe this beautiful place with two bedrooms up and a guest suite in the basement and three decks with hot tub and a view over Long Bay that is to die for it cracks me up! The place is so beautiful and there could not be a better location than Gambier. It is 15 minutes by water to where I grew up. Best of all there are no stores or cars (except work vehicles) at the Gambier Island Sea Ranch they are banned! YES!!!!!!!!!!! There is one place in the whole world where you can't drive a damn car!! I love it!
We will take a water taxi from Sunset Marina just outside Horseshoe Bay tomorrow afternoon. Should be an interesting ride juggling a cooler full of food, a sleeping bag, backpack, camera (cannot forget that!) and Miss Lucy who is not too keen on boats.
I have Harry Potter with me that I have yet to finish and my writing things and my hiking boots! That is the thing I like to do best on Gambier - hike!
So tata for a few days and I promise to come back with a whole load of pictures and lots of stories to tell!
I will leave you with this picture that I just found on the Kat Kam site of the Burrard street bridge tonight.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chinese Night Market - A Little Taste Of China

The Chinese Night Market in Richmond is wildly popular. It has been attracting hundreds of eager bargain hunters for seven summers now despite the fact that it is difficult to find and very crowded. The market is only open from May to October and every year I ask my Chinese friend to take me to it, but it never seems to happen. My friend's excuse is that he left China to get away from Chinese merchants. Go figure! Being on vacation I decided that a trip to the market might be just like a trip to China and so off I went this evening.
I got there just before sundown as the market opens at 7 pm and my first impression was that it was very similar to some of the large flea markets around the lower mainland. The difference however is in the presentation. The night market comes alive as the evening wears on. The air is filled with the scent of Asian specialty dishes like sui mai and steamed filled dumplings and meat roasting on skewers. If you are like me and love Asian food it is a deadly place to be as you just want to try a little of everything and it is all so reasonably priced. I had some fried tofu with hot sauce, some shrimp dumplings and gyoza (fried dumplings) it was all delicious.
There is a stage with live music and dancers which attracts lots of young people and the whole place is lit up with neon lights making it look like any market street in China.
The bargains are everywhere most imported from China of course. From electronics to under wear you name it you can buy it for cheap. The biggest attraction for me is the look alike designer handbags. There were many merchants selling them so I am relieved to know that I am not the only woman with a penchant for handbags. Everything from Gucci to Burberry look alikes. Some of them were of very good quality and I finally caved in and bought one from a seller named Vivian. She was a lovely woman and she told me that she and her husband own a wholesale company here that supplies some of the high end retailers in the city and she brings the surplus here to sell. I paid $35.00 for a look alike that would have cost $4000.00 were it the real thing. The people I hang out with will never know the difference. Had I gone to a retail outlet in the city and purchased this bag it would easily have cost me about $100.00 so I think it was an excellent buy.
Finally after three hours of walking I could take no more and staggered to my car exhausted but satisfied and indeed having felt like I had spent a little time in China.This is a merchant in the food area and I have no idea what he was selling. It appeared to be some kind of waffle that is made on these very unusual hot griddles that he very cleverly and skillfully juggled and flipped all the while kind of dancing and bouncing from one place to the other to the delight of the crowd. He had a huge line up waiting to purchase what ever it was he was cooking and I would have loved to try it, but did not want to wait that long.