We made a quick stop in White Rock to meet our landlords and pick up keys. White Rock is off the list.....way to touristy. Then we took the "short cut" to the ferry through Vancouver....much better than our regular route. As we sit waiting for the 5:30 ferry, I am struck by how unreal this feels. We missed the 3:30 ferry but our reward was a most spectacular sunset ~ wisps of clouds colored in the bright glow of pink, yellow and orange with deep purple for contrast. We are surrounded by jagged peaks reaching right out of the water, the distant ones covered in snow. The setting sun hangs low, mostly to the south, never rising very high in the sky as it makes it's daily trek. It paints the mountains in that special golden light of winter. It is brisk but we took a walk around the little village of Horseshoe Bay. It is an area first settled by the Indians. The water is deep and green and we can see all the way to the bottom. There are starfish of every color and size. I remember how I cried 2 years ago when we had to leave and now that we have, returned it feels so unreal ~ it's just too much of a change to wrap my mind around. This place ~ this magical place is so different from any place we have lived. This is a foreign country ~ a country of liters and meters and loonies and toonies, a country of spectacular beauty. I cannot beleive we get to live here ~ maybe tomorrow it will feel more real.
Searching for the Northern Lights ~ Adventures in BC Friday January 10, 2003 ~
Good Morning!!!! from the Gibsons library! We will write more soon but we wanted to check in and let you know that we arrived safely last night. We arrived after dark but we were able to unpack the bare necessities.....like the bed and bedding. The sheets fit our new bed perfectly. We lit some candles and sat in bed and shared some smoked oysters, cheese and wine. There was no room in the van for our folding chairs and we are longing for them this morning. There is a perfect place to sit and put our feet on the window ledge. There was not an inch left by the time we left our friends house in Stayton, Oregon where we had some things stored.
We are off in search of some folding chairs today. We will bring our chairs up for sure on the next trip. We are really having a time believing this. It doesn't feel real. It is the most beautiful sunny morning. We have been out for an early moring walk all over town. The nearest mountains are dusted in snow and the ones to the north are covered in snow. There was a heavy frost and there was a bit of ice on the water in the harbor but it is pleasant walking. Our apartment is much larger than we expected.....at least twice the size of the one we had in Everett. We have two large picture windows that face east......they are side by side and each about 6 feet wide. We snuggled down in bed this morning and watched the most glorious sunrise. We can see so much sky out our windows. We are off to run errands and pick up supplies today. We only have a short time on this computer. Our new mailing address is Larry & Charlotte Bacon GD Gibsons BC VON 1VO. We hope to have phone and Internet access by next week. We will write more soon. Love L&C
Friday ~ January 10, 2003 ~ Aldersprings Road
We awoke to a glorious dawn. We are here!!! at last. It feels like a dream. We have some shopping to do and the phone, internet and mail to check on but first we must take a walk about.
Canadian Bacon by Larry ~ This will be Larry's section in our new newsletter. It will not generally be about food and eating but this week the subject is OUR FIRST MEAL IN BC!
Pack Rat Louies here we come!!! Two years ago when we stayed in Gibsons for a week, we discovered Pack Rat Louies on our anniversary. We stopped in for lunch and fell in love with the ecclectic ambience, the owners and the food. We started out with a bucket of mussels in a wine/cream sauce with foccacia bread to sop up the juice. Then we had halibut bon femme, a delicious filet of halibut stuffed with shrimp and smothered in a wine/cream sauce. We accompanied our meal with a local chardonnay that was very nice. We returned with trepidation, fearful that our experience couldn't be duplicated. We needn't have worried. We arrived late for lunch, ordered the chardonnay and planned our afternoon while looking out from our sunlit window seat. We could see a ferry out in the Strait of Georgia. Our bucket of mussels was "deja vue" and the foccacia was even better than we remembered. We elected for the lunch special which was a chicken fettuccini with fresh grated parmesan. Our experience was a fitting welcome home.
To be continued tomorrow from the libray.......We will have no phone until at least Friday! We are thinking it is meant to be. We are having seperation anxiety because of no phone, Internet or TV and we gave up wine for a 3 week detox. What to do????? We do get the local radio station from Sacramento KFBK 1530 on the dial and we listen each morning..........
More Northern Lights ~ Sunday Morning ~ Aldersprings Road ~ January 12, 2003
Our 30 minutes at the library is mostly for clearing out enough email to stay under quota and taking care of emergencies. I think it is actually very good for us to be without email for awhile. It is helping us to take a look at our regular routine. Everything seems to happen more slowly here on "the coast". That is what the locals call this area. We have been properly welcomed to "the coast" by many folks. We are finding the people here even more friendly that we remembered. I started writing while we waited for the ferry but with no way to send it on it immediately took on a different feeling. Even though I know that I will eventually be able to send this, that feeling of immediate sharing has taken away the urgency to write. Isn't that interesting? I feel the need to write this morning because so much is going on and I am afraid I will forget parts that are important.
It is our first overcast morning since we arrived but with our view, who cares. We have a 16 foot expanse of picture window looking toward the southeast. We have been blessed with 2 glorious sunrises. Two out of three isn't bad, I would say. It is drizzly this morning but supposed to clear this afternoon. We have had our Yerba Mate. Larry is reading about freshwater fishing in BC and I am writing and watching life going on below us. All is well.
We are on a little street just up the hill from the harbor.....Aldersprings Road. Our apartment is on the second floor and we have quite a view of the goings on. We can watch folks walking their dogs on the beach across the harbor. We just watched a water taxi deposit quite a load of folks from the islands. We look out across the Shoal Channel to Keats Island and beyond Keats, Bowen Island. We cannot see the public pier but this will do nicely. The public pier will be the ideal place to watch the Northern Lights. It is about a 5 minute walk from our apartment and we usually have it all to ourselves. We saw our first otter. We spooked him from below the gazebo at the end of the pier. They are river otters we are told.
We are in search of our bird book that is in one of these boxes somewhere, I hope. (Yes, we found our bird book) Our kitchen is twice the size of the one we had in Everett with an 8 foot bar. Our front room is about 16X20, plenty of room for our office, bedroom and dining area with room left over. We have the table set up that we built before leaving. It is perfect. Our kitchen is pretty much unpacked. We had a pot of beans with Toupie ham and salad for dinner last night. Our bathroom is quite funny. .....let's just say that it was built for a dwarf. My head touches if I stand up on the roof side so one must be careful when raising up after brushing teeth. We are as content as two bugs in a rug. It is not our dream home but it is sure getting a lot closer.
Life here is very much like Everett....the rain doesn't slow anyone down. They just get out their umbrellas and go on about their business. Lots of folks seemed to be walking downtown for supper or something last evening. The kids play soccer, they had a flea market at the high school, people walk their dogs, go fishing, catch busses and just generally go about their business. It is only rain.
We visited every thrift store in Gibsons and Sechelt yesterday in search of odds and ends...the most important being chairs. We dearly needed a place to sit. We found everything but the chairs but on our way home stopped at one more hardware store and the young lady there told us about an out of the way thrift store down North street. We looked about but saw no chairs and then Larry looked upstairs where there seemed to be more storage area crammed full. The owner, seeing Larry's upward gaze, said "you only get up there if I let you up there. What are you looking for?" When Larry said folding chairs, she said there are some in the ladies dressing room. They are the tiniest folding chairs we have ever seen and quite old.....probably 30's or 40's but they sit comfortably. She said that she had them sitting in the dressing room because she was so loaded with stuff. You know Larry....he asked how badly she wanted to get rid of them? She couldn't decide so with that he offered her $5 for the 2....$5 Canadian. She said "a card game eh? And needing two more chairs? (everyone ends most sentences with eh?) We said yes and it was a done deal. For you foreignors, that is $3.20 US. Good deal! We now have the 2 chairs to go with our famous TV trays that we haul everywhere and our feet rest just right on the ledge of the window.
Grocery shopping was quite an experience! There are 5 grocery stores, two IGA markets, one in Gibsons and one in Sechelt and then Clayton's in the Sechelt Mall, Super Value in the Gibsons Mall and a family owned market. Before you get excited, let's just say these are not malls like you are used to. They are a few business establishments in an enclosed area but these folks up here are proud of their malls. There is a great deal of competetion between the stores so one must read the ads. Celery varied from $1.75US to $5.50US for a bunch. We saw great variation among several items so we will read the ads each week. One other very important bit of information that we learned in our travels is that when you go "to town" or buy something "in town" it means Vancouver. That trip, for us is a 45 minute ferry ride and it is $25 US to get back home to Gibsons.....$25US to get here and then the return is free. We are going to check on walking on to the ferry and then taking a bus around Vancouver. We are planning that adventure in about a week.
Along with the conversion of the money there are the liters, kilometers, grams and kilograms. A sweet lady, named Kathy, working in the produce section at the Heritage Market assisted us with some of our purchases along with a gentleman in flannel shirt and boots, who came along to make sure she was doing it right. Both were very friendly people, with big smiles and willing to help us in any way they could. They were, in fact, a very big help. The folks here are even more friendly than we remember.
They are far more environmentally conscious up here and it is reflected in their packaging and the deposits they charge at time of purchase to encourage recycling. There is a proliferation of thrift stores. They are not a result of poverty or thriftiness although there is that too. Most of these folks simply believe that there is no need to create new "stuff" as long as there are usable items around for everyone. Clothes are the big recycled item but also some household goods and anything for children. What a concept! Think of how many natural resources we could save if we all did this. There is far more organic food available in the stores. The fines for breaking the fishing regulations are up to $100,000 and or 12 months in jail. They care about their land and their animals.
Another thing that we are most happy about is that Canada does not permit rBGH in commercial milk production. Studies have linked the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rGBH) with increased risk of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer. Unlike Canada and much of Europe, the US still permits rBGH in commercial milk production. Another reason to buy organic milk products in the states. We paid about $2.50US for a gallon of milk. Next time we will purchase it in the more environmentally friendly bag. Yes, milk in bags and it is much cheaper to buy Canadian products. We purchased delicious canned "wild" pink salmon for 69 centsUS per can and smoked oysters for 95 cents a can. Sardines are also about 69 cents per can. We love canned fish so we are very happy. The only thing better will be fresh! Another very cheap item that they sell alot of.....many brands and sizes.....would someone please tell me how to prepare escargot from a can. We love it but have never prepared it and didn't know it came in cans. When we arrived home we converted all prices to US. It is the math mind in Larry and I just need to know. For those of you who are curious here are US prices for a few items. Eggs/$1.59 doz., large head of romain/95 cents, a large bunch of radishes/50 cents and $2.55 for 18 oz. of bacon, Canadian bacon of course. They assured us prices would be much better when the growing season starts and they stop shipping all of that produce from California.
Thursday, January 16, 2003 ....I think
Well, we have been here a week.....a very slow, very renewing and very glorious week. We will be glad to get our phone and Internet hooked up. HOPEFULLY, the phone company is coming to visit tomorrow. The beauty here is incredible........truly breathtaking at times. For those of you who have been here it is even more beautiful this time of year with the snow on the mountains and the winter light. For those of you who have not been here it is hard to describe. Look at pictures of Alaska and the Inland Passage; it is much like this. There have been moments when we have ached to share a vista with you. When the light hits the mountains a certain way or the afternoon we walked to Amours Beach, the glorious heron that landed on the post in front of us or the Sunday afternoon sunset that we watched from the highest hill in town. We could see across the channel to Vancouver Island and all the islands in between. We like to watch the fishing boats as they slowly cruise back into the harbor with their little put puts. It is so quiet and peaceful except here at the library. This is quite a gathering place. There are times I simply cannot believe we are here. I will close for now. We will write more soon.
Much Love, Larry & Charlotte
Saturday ~January 18, 2003 ~
We still have no phone and no Internet. That story is too long to go into. They are going to try with the phone again on Tuesday. After the phone is hooked up it will be 3 working days to hook into the Internet service. I am discouraged and Larry is hopeful.
It is a gloriously beautiful day here.....clear and way too warm for this time of year. Remember this is a rain forest. We are getting to know the young couple next door very well. They are quite nice, Dayton and Dannelle. They turned on the phone in their apartment yesterday instead of ours. They didn't want phone service since they use a cell only. We plugged our phone into their jack and sure enough it was that phone that got turned on. I am trying to tell myself that everything is happening in a perfect way???? And surely it must be, just not the way I had planned.We are also having problems sending from this email account. I had hoped to see if I could fix the problem but not on my time at the library. You may receive email from us from another account in the meantime. Life is very good except for the phone challenges. Much Love L
January 21, 2003 ~ Now You See It, Now You Don't ~
WELLLLLL! We had a phone for a few hours. Friday they turned on the wrong phone, our neighbors, and so the order was given to turn on the other phone today, Tuesday. In the meantime a very nice man came out yesterday to help us. We were not sure if he was the late phone man from Friday or the early phone man from Tuesday. In any event Ken got us hooked up. Then the last order to turn the phone off went through anyway. So now we are once again turned off and our neighbor, who does not want land service, is turned on. Larry is down at the marina waiting on the phone to talk with someone. It always takes at least 15 minutes of waiting to talk with someone. We will have a phone soon, I think. Our Internet service should be on by midnight tomorrow night. We understand this is pretty routine. It is the way of the "coast". I think it is a test to see how bad one wants to stay. We are staying.
Our time without phone and Internet have been very beneficial. We have experienced things that would have never happened otherwise. There has been lots of time to be quiet and still, write and just listen. It has been a wonderful calming down experience but now we are ready......the waiting is difficult but again we are doing important things and realizing they need to be part of each day instead of the occasional past-time. We want to be in deliberate action instead of the action of the ego. We want to take time to listen each day and walk the path we were meant to walk. Our email was way over and I just cleared it out so if any of you have tried to send........
Friday, January 25, 2003
It is 4:45 AM and I have left my warm flannel cocoon because I cannot sleep. There is too much going on in my mind. It is raining and I can see a few lights down in the marina. An occasional car drives by at the bottom of our hill. A quiet voice has awakened me. Don't worry....... it is the good voice, not my censor who would awaken me to beat me up and drive me to do better. This is a voice that calls from my heart. It has awakened me because I can sense my thread. With your permission, I am going to borrow your metaphor about the thread. Each time you speak of your thread I see this beautiful thread, sometimes it is even golden, winding and leading somewhere......where, we do not know... but to a wonderful place.
I tried going into the bathroom and making a few notes but alas it was not enough, sooo here I am. Larry and I were talking about synchronicity the other afternoon and he shared that he had been reading about that very thing in the library. He shared that part of what he read said that if a thought, idea or a person continually shows up in your life you need to look at that as possible synchronicity. I haven't pressed him to remember where he read about this but I will, come morning. I want to read more about it. In any event, dear Carol, you keep coming to my mind and the part I am going to share with you keeps "coming to my mind".
I sense deep within me that if I let go of fear and just follow this thread it will lead to to a special place....... a place that I am meant to be. Have you ever read "The Messiah" by Richard Bach? There is a part about a creature letting go and being swept along by the current. Larry and I read that book many years ago and have often reminded each other to never be afraid to let go and be swept along by this power greater than we are. When Mary M referred to that part of the Messiah at the end of Co-creation tape, we were both overcome with emotion. It was a sign to us that we are on the right path.....our path. The thread, the current tugs at me and beckons me to let go. I am reminded to always remember that it is NOT about the destination but rather the journey..... I keep expecting to be led somewhere but maybe we are just led to way stations, the next sign post, or bent leaf or crumbs left for us to follow and sometimes perhaps we need to just trust a feeling.
You know how sometimes you start thinking or talking about someone, some incident, some situation and then you suddenly realize that you are spending words, time and energy on something you have no control over ..... muddling and trying to figure out what you can do is pointless? Well, several years ago Larry and I took to stopping ourselves and each other from doing that by simply asking these words, "Is it worth writing an article about?" We ask each other that question all the time. I am finding that indeed there are many things worth writing an article about.
I wrote an "article" yesterday called "The Rose Garden". I have included it at the bottom of this letter. When I had finished, I knew that part of my planting, part of my garden was indeed writing. When I was a young girl, I wrote all the time. I even got first place once, in the 7th grade, for a historical piece of fiction. In high school, writing assignments kept me awake all hours of the night, sometimes even until dawn. When we were in storage, I came across some of my pages. Much of it got tossed out when I ran away from home because if wrote about the family secrets. My mother tried to rid herself of me by tossing out everything in my room. I can't remember why the pieces I have were saved? It doesn't matter at this point. The pieces that are lost make me sad but I am thankful for what I have.
The writing I did for our Risk Taking class opened a door somewhere in my heart and as I have continued to write, it has opened even farther. I know that part of my soul purpose is to write and maybe it's just for me.... my healing.
A Rose Garden
As a young girl growing up, my mother would often say to me "Charlotte, life is not a rose garden. You don't always get what you want. Life is hard. You can't have it all." If I told her of a specific want, many times she would tell me "You're dreaming". Indeed, my life was not a a rose garden. It was more like a berry patch, a hostile environment, a long expanse of thick obstacles and thorns. I was scratched, bruised and bloody by the time I left the garden of my youth.
I grew up, moved away and eventually got married. I married a man that I had known less than a month. I gave up my hopes and dreams for the dream I had about marriage and love. We were not soul mates and I was greatly disappointed. I had moved to the edge of the berry patch, out of the thorns. Now my life looked more like an overgrown weed patch that needed far more help than I could give it, with only occasional visits to the berry patch. Over time my husband started going out to bars and seeing other women. I was there to serve him, keep the house clean, cook the meals and do the books for our business. When I called my mother and told her how unhappy I was she said "Life is not a rose garden, Charlotte." She told me the marriage and relationship I dreamed of only happened in the movies and in books. And...."at least he doesn't beat you."
On the weekend that my mother died, I promised her that I would do something . I had spent many hours during my youth coloring and drawing and painting and she wanted me to promise to take an art class. Her last words to me were "promise". It seemed an odd request at the time. We were on the phone and she had called specifically to make this request....to get a promise from me that I would take an art class? I promised. She died suddenly of a heart attack that evening. It was a Sunday morning when the call came. My husband left and sent a neighbor to comfort me.
That was in August and by January I was indeed in an art class...a drawing class. It was the first of many. I settled into painting in oils and I was drawn to realism. I especially loved flowers. My husband saw my artwork as an interference. I spent time painting instead of cooking, cleaning and book work and along with the artwork there was a group of women friends that I now went off to do things with. A group of loving liberated older women who enlightened me to the ways of life. When I said that my husband "wouldn't let me go to lunch"....well, you can figure out the rest. By October I was separated from my husband and we were in the midst of a divorce. The years passed and I remarried and I continued to paint. My mother had given me one last gift....the key that would open my life to greater possibilities.
In the late 70's I entered therapy. I shared about my past.....my mother and my berry patch. I found myself repeating my mother's words. "Life is not a rose garden" but I was having much trouble dealing with that fact and putting my past to rest. It haunted me each day and colored by life with darker colors. I wanted my therapist to somehow help me to accept that I had wanted far too much from my youth and from life. We often talked about my mother and the "rose garden".
One day I brought a small painting to share with her. She took it from my hands and then looked at me for a long time. She asked how many of these have you painted? I said many. It was a small painting of a perfect red rose and my mother's favorite flower. She said, "your mother told you that life is not a rose garden and so now you paint to prove her wrong". And indeed, I had painted many perfect roses. I worked on each one until I could touch it and smell the fragrance. It brought me great pleasure to surround myself with these perfect roses.....my rose garden. In all of my years of painting roses, the thought that I was painting my rose garden never occurred to me. I remember being overcome with huge emotion and I cried for a long time because I realized that what she said was true.
That was many years ago. I went on to live a life where I continued to strive to prove my mother wrong. I think that's what she intended all along. She spent her life never leaving her weedy berry patch. She wanted me to search for my rose garden. It is a good life. It is filled with beauty and adventure. I met the man of my dreams, literally, because I dreamed of him long before I set eyes on him. I even wrote about him. My life became a garden with a rose here and there and a few weeds. It is a very small garden and I am thankful that I can say I have a garden at all after starting out in the berry patch. When I am spending time in my garden, I continue to be haunted by my mother's words, "You can't have it all.... life is not a rose garden". I am struck by the thought this morning that my garden is small because I have been afraid to plant more. There is plenty of fertile ground. Why don't I seek to expand my garden. What would happen if I opened my heart to the possibility of planting lots of roses, more seeds, flowers of every kind. So what if there are a few weeds and some plants that wither and even die. That is the way of life and the way of gardens. What if I began planting the garden of my dreams?
I am afraid......I am afraid I can't care for more and that the weeds will get out of control. What will become of the old garden if I begin planting more garden. I am afraid to want for more than I already have. I am afraid of being disappointed. I am afraid I will find out my mother was right if I plant my rose garden. I am afraid my roses will just wither and die or someone will steal them because I was never meant to have a rose garden in the first place. I am afraid of the berry patch that I will have to clear away to get to that fertile soil where my rose garden belongs. When I look up I am amazed that I am almost done with the clearing of the berry patch with only a few more weeds to go for you see I have been busy at the clearing for some time now. A few friends and loved ones have even stopped by to help me from time to time. It is almost ready for planting.
How many of us never dream and strive for more because of our fears ..... fears of disappointment, fears of success, fears of failure, fears of change, fears of the unknown. The dreams of our childhood are put away like toys in a toy box, time after time, and then finally never taken out again. What if we cleared away the berry patches and weed patches of our past and tossed them into the compost pile of our lives? Compost is defined as a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter that is used for fertilizing and conditioning soil. What if we opened our hearts and reached in to to take out our dreams, one or two at a time so that it's not too scary? What if we began planting them into this new rich soil? Our hearts have held our dreams like soil waiting for the spring. Our souls are waiting to nurture them. There can be a springtime, a new garden for each of us. The choice is ours. I once read a quote that went something like this, "Don't let your past define who you are but rather let your past become part of who you were meant to be". I challenge you to plant your garden into the rich soil of your past and allow your heart and soul to nurture it into the garden of your dreams.
Canadian Bacon by Larry
Or say can you say, "Bald Eagle?!" ~ January 27, 2003
The physical distance between Gibsons and Vancouver is probably around 30 miles, give or take a few. The mental distance is staggering. Charlotte and I "went to town" yesterday. That's what the locals on the coast call Vancouver. To start with, you can't get there from here unless you get on the ferry. That isolation begins to explain the differences between the two places. As you step onto the ferry with a group of fellow passengers, you feel as though you are leaving for a foreign destination. Even though the weather forcast was very discouraging, the dynamic duo set forth, only to be greeted with breaking sunshine and beautiful clouds. The snow-capped mountains were invisible as they were clutching the clouds over their shoulders like an old woman with a shawl
Predictably, we stood at the rail on the sun deck as we always do so as not to miss anything. We were evaluating the pros and cons of the waterfront homes on Gambier Island when we spied four large, soaring birds above us. The sun broke through the clouds and illuminated their white heads and tails. "Bald Eagles", we both shouted in unison! We hugged each other with joy. Our trip to town was already a resounding success.
The blue express bus whisked us through North Vancouver, over the Lion's Gate bridge and down Georgia Street into the heart of Vancouver. The transition from sleepy little Gibsons to the bustling city was startling. Tall skyscrapers of all sizes and shapes loom over fountains, statues and parks. Green patina roof here, domed glass one there, here a towering spire, there a glass roof that tapers to the ground. The architecture reminded us a little of San Francisco/Seattle/Dallas but it retained a unique "European/English" look. Lots of glass - domes, walls, roofs. Old catherals were dwarfed by 30 story hotels next door. Since our mission was to attend a book reading at the library, we located it ahead of time. It has the look of the Roman Coliseum, circular in shape with brown, 8 story columns and a cap on top. Seven stories of books! An information junky's paradise. The walls are glass from ceiling to floor so to stand, looking down, requires you to be free of fear.
After a delicious lunch of fish N chips for me and BBQ ribs for Charlotte, we hurried to make our lecture. 69 year old Margo Wood regaled us with her adventures on the water. She "single-hands" her boat, a 41 foot cruiser with the name of Ern. She spoke of her boat as if it were a good friend. Her descriptions of the waters between here and Alaska had the Sailor in me salivating. She emphasized to us that this life was not a dress rehearsal and that if we wanted to make this life an adventure, it was up to us to go for it now.
Our ride home was peaceful and anti-climatic and we arrived home agreeably tired and ready to snuggle in for the night. I'll write more later about the two level grocery store and the mall that will captivate your imagination and nearly captured my heart!
January 29, 2003 ~ My sister Sherry's birthday, Happy Birthday Sherry, wherever you are
Search Of The Northern Lights ~ I decided in the night that this was a perfect metaphor for my search for authentic self
We awoke to a real winter storm; rain pelting against our windows, blustery winds bending the trees, misty clouds passing through somewhere between us and the distant islands, whitecaps on the bay. It is delightful. It is even too stormy for the gulls and the blackbirds to be out and about.
If I were to choose a theme for my life the last couple of years, it would definitely be "overcoming fear". Taking on the 2000 Census in southern California, managing a store for Hickory Farms and then selling advertising for Wheelers, an RV guide, all over the state of California were huge fear challenges. In the case of the census and Hickory Farms I dealt with overcoming fears almost on a daily basis. Mostly having to do with whether or not I was capable of doing things I had never done before.
This morning I took yet another step in that direction. I do not move into that place of attempting new things with ease. I am filled with fear of the unknown, insecurity, lack of confidence. I like to know exactly how to do something and know that I can do it well before I take any real action. That tends to be a little self limiting since, how can I really get good at something without practice?
I have intentionally chosen the aforementioned challenges because of the fear factor. They were examples of undertakings that scared me to death. At some point I realized that I was allowing fear to control a large part of my life. My fear centered around situations where I felt I was not in control; my greatest fear of all. Coupled with that, I have a huge fear of failure, making a fool of myself.. My fear challenges can be as simple as taking a kayak across the inlet where the current might take me away or the waves will toss me into the deep water or as complicated as being a store manager overseeing 12 employees, inventory and sales.
Anyway, back to this morning. We awoke in the dark and climbed out of our warm flannel cocoon. I was very nervous. In fact, we had planned this outing last week but I begged out; it's cold, it's dark, I didn't sleep well...This morning I went in spite of my fear. Where you may ask? Well, keep in mind, before I tell you.....this may not be scary to you in the least but it is very scary to me. This challenge requires that I commit to speaking in public; stand up in front of people, be able to gather my thoughts, open my mouth and sound somewhat intelligent. All the while hoping that, my knees won't knock, my hands won't shake and my brain will work.
We went off to the 7:15 meeting of Toastmasters. Watching the designated people get up and give their speeches almost put me into a panic attack as I imagined having to do this. Then they did something called table topics where a person is given a topic and they get up and speak extemporaneously on that subject for one minute. They time you and THEN there are evaluations. Oh, my!
We stayed until the end. Everyone seemed very nice. We were offered an opportunity to speak. Larry told about how he had been drawn to Toastmasters because he enjoyed speech class in college. I decided honesty was my best tact. I confessed to coming because I was filled with fear at the prospect of getting up to say anything. My voice was quivering but I did get the words out. I felt compassion and understanding from a couple of people. That is something else I don't do, I do not confess to my fears and weaknesses in front of people, especially people I barely know - but hey, at 52, it might be nice to try something different just to see how it feels. I don't know if there will be a part two to this story.....at least not today. I'll let you know next week. I am reminded of Margo Wood's words on Sunday, "Life is not a dress rehearsal."
On the lighter side we went to the Gibson's Heritage Playhouse last night. It is at the top of School Street. The doors opened at 7. We decided to walk there. School Street is as steep and long as any street in San Francisco. It was quite a climb but it was a lovely hike. From the top of the hill we could see a ferry heading north way out in the Georgia Strait. We could even see the very distant lights of Vancouver and a brightly lit ski run over on the mainland.
It was a special evening put on by the Sunshine Coast Film Society called "An Evening Meditation on the Northern Lights". Alan Sirulnikoff, a young man of about 30 and a well know photographer from the area, shared 15 minutes of some of the slides he has taken in pursuit of the northern lights. We then watched the most haunting documentary movie. It is with us still. The movie is "Picture of Light" made in 1994. It won an award at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Rather than try to come up with my own words I will share what was in the brochure. "On the surface, Peter Mettler's documentary is about going to Churchill, Manitoba, to capture the aurora borealis, the northern lights on film - But, it turns out to be part scientific, part poetic, an entirely painterly exploration of the elusive magical and spiritual nature of the "True North". A film that engages your sense of wonder through capturing the unexpected, it has won 12 international film awards."
The script would stand alone without the film as something poetic, haunting and disturbing at times. I came away feeling that we needed to travel further.....further away from comforts, further away from the familiar, into the deep wilderness and unknown places. I was ready to board the train for Churchhill in the dead of winter as Peter had done.
I will close for now and get busy with the tasks we have chosen for today. In order to stay in this magical place we need a bit more income each month. We are opening our hearts and minds to all possibilites. We can see that we have cut ourselves off from possibilities by needing to follow our own agenda. It all goes back to that need to feel in control and that is all such a fantasy. When are we ever really in control? We are open to wiser counsel.....devine wisdom. We are telling the universe "it's OK if our lives get easier". There are so many questions going through my mind and I am waiting for answers. Maybe that is one of my obstacles......too many questions that I don't need answers to.
Over The Rainbow
Thursday Morning ~ May 15, 2003 ~ Gibsons ~ British Columbia ~ Canada
Someone is mowing down by the marina and we can smell a hint of newly cut grass. There are large cumulus clouds building to the east. The bright sun lights the fringes of the clouds. A robin is busy looking for bugs in the grass below the spruce tree out front. We spotted a beautiful yellow Wilson warbler this morning. We can hear gulls in the distance. The clouds are climbing higher and higher and appear to be drawing ever closer with each passing minute.
As the trees have budded out, our world has taken on a whole new look. The new growth on the trees has blocked part of our distant view. It forces us to focus on life closer at hand. Red tulips line the hill to the north. They stand tall and bright in their new spring costumes. The red winged blackbirds have returned to the tidal marsh between us and the bay. We can hear their plaintive call. The smell of the grass and the song of the robin and blackbird remind me of my many springtimes.....52 and counting. It remains one of my favorite times.....a time of rebirth.
We spy our pair of eagles to the east. They spend most mornings catching the updraft above Shoal Channel where it feeds into Howe Sound. The local Indians believe that to see an Eagle means that the Great Spirit is looking over you. We feel very blessed indeed as we see bald eagles almost daily. They love to glide on the wind. I can be presumptuous enough to say they love it because we are witness most mornings to their flight to the inlet to catch the updraft for their morning dance. It seems to us that it is almost like a contest to see how long they can float on the air without a flap of the wing. It is quite impressive to watch, as they glide up and down and all around and then come back to do it all again.
We have noticed that some of the gulls like to fly with the eagles. They meet there each morning for the dance. We are of the impression that they are trying to imitate the flight of the eagle. They have one huge problem.....wing span, but try they will. They don't seem to know or care that they will never dance as the eagle. The Indians have a name for these birds. They are called Seagull-Wanna-B-An-Eagle. Not really but we felt they deserved a name of their own.
Our days have grown longer with the passing springtime....much longer than we are accustomed to. Daylight awakens us at 5 AM and it is almost 9:30 before darkness falls completely. As summer approaches, the days will grow longer still. There have been some spectacular sunrises so we often get out of bed to check the sky. Will we get up to watch the breaking day or snuggle down for a bit longer? What a dilemma! We can watch the birds coming and going in the morning from our personal observation deck.....laying in our bed. The crows, herons and geese seem to have a destination as they awaken and head out. The gulls, pigeons and eagles seem to just like to glide around for awhile.....warming up their engines. As the season of the Northern Lights draws to a close we are facing, with sadness, the fact that we must leave this magical place. We can only "legally" reside in Canada for 6 months out of each year and they start counting the days as soon as you cross the border. The "legally" becomes important if we want to buy property or return. We don't want a black mark next to our name when we cross the border. Perhaps "On The Road Again" should be our theme song. We are headed out in search of that place "over the rainbow". We are not sure where that will take us yet but we will keep you posted. We will check on 2 long term house sits in Oregon as we head south. With summer closing in shouldn't we be headed north instead?
We are thankful each and every day that we have been witness to a spring on the Sunshine Coast. It really defies description. It has been amazing. Most of the homes are older and the yards have been established for many, many years. The climate here is ideal for growing so many things. Add to that the fact that the folks in this area love their gardens and you have the making of quite a show. The springtime meadows are lush and thick with wildflowers and grasses. There are huge rhododendrons in almost every yard, along with azaleas.....enormous azaleas. Some of the deciduous varieties are the size of small trees. There are lilacs, lilacs everywhere....huge hedges of lilac and trees of lilac, violet, purple, white and they fill the air with their sweet heady scent. The cherry trees are just ending their show for the year. The wisteria is coming out and there are lovely clematis everywhere. There are many flowers unfamiliar to us. Some we remember from the exotic seed catalogs we would peruse when we had the farm. On our next visit we must find out their names.
We love taking our walk each day to check on the latest development in the yards we pass. Many places are built on hillsides and the colors spill down across the pallet of the earth. We have a favorite walk "along the lanes" which are actually little alleyways between the houses. It takes us down to Armours Beach. From there we can sit and watch the ferries come and go. We can look out across the water and straight up to the deep snow that lingers in the mountains. The waterfalls are just beginning to cascade down with the warmer temperatures. We haven't seen any poison oak or ivy but Larry discovered a plant growing all along one of our trails he thought was stinging nettle. To check his theory he decided to touch it with his fingers. YEP! Sure nuf.....it was stinging nettle and he felt it's bite for over 24 hours. Don't mess with the stinging nettle in BC!
Ever since our arrival we have been hearing about the amazing seafood. On several occasions, when fishing came up in conversations, we have been regaled in great detail about the last great seafood meal. We have been finding that a bit strange since there is little fresh seafood available anywhere. We had assumed there must be a season but didn't really know when and hadn't queried anyone yet. We assumed they fished all the time up here and they probably do for something. May 1st everything changed. Fresh halibut, oysters and mussels started showing up but the most dramatic event was the beginning of the Prawn Orgy.
Everyone, including us, began feeding on prawns. We had noticed large orange buoys showing up out in the bay and thought they were for anchorage. We later learned folks were staking their claim to their favorite place for prawn traps. Boats come and go in the small harbor, little boats, big boats and large commercial vessels. You can tell when a boat is due in by the arrival of a refrigeration truck. We walked down to the wharf last night to see what was going on. Boats anchored in the harbor are lit by bright lights until all the prawns are boxed up and that often goes on until midnight or later. They are then loaded on to refrigerated trucks headed for Vancouver. Most of them will be whisked away to Japan. The Prawns are big business on the coast. The season will last 75 days unless the fisheries people decided to end the season early.
The harvesting of fish and wildlife is highly regulated in these parts. For this area, it is an important natural resource and they care deeply about preservation. The owner of a prawn boat will make his entire year's income in those 75 days. The wife of the owner we chatted with said they might do a little shrimp or octopus later but nothing is like prawn season. There are plenty of prawns left for us "coasters". It reminds us of asparagus season or berry season x 100. Everyone wants to get their fill before the season ends.
On Sunday night Larry partook of fresh BBQ's oysters on the half shell. They were huge and came from an area north of here called Egmont. Monday night our young neighbor brought fresh prawns over to show Larry how to clean them. What we see in the states are just the tails. Prawns look very much like a small version of a lobster or crawdad. Some restaurants serve them whole......eyeballs looking right at you. For a big feed, they boil great pots of them and peel them at the table and serve them dipped in ketchup, mayo, lemon juice sauce.....a bit of horseradish is a nice touch. We had our prawns the first evening cooked according to young Dayton's directions. He promised it would be love at first bite. He was right. Tuesday we were off to the local fish store, which is only open part of the year. Larry was greeted by a very nice young man and a huge mountain of prawns resting on ice. That night we prepared them using directions provided by the young man at the fish store. Yesterday, we were back at the fish store once again.
Last night we had our first and probably our last guest for dinner. Remember, we only have our two TV trays? Larry made a nice little make-shift table with a small piece of fiberboard which he straddled between the two trays. We had a piece of blue plastic tablecloth that just fit. We put our little table in front of the window and it provided an excellent place for our seafood feast. We used a recipe from the Internet. Larry sauteed the prawns in butter and olive oil with garlic, parsley and a squeeze of lemon. These were the best ever! Oh my! We could get addicted to these fresh prawns!
Yesterday afternoon we stopped by the wharf office to check on the whereabouts of some of our favorite fishing boats. Our new friend, Mary Ann, shared some fresh smoked salmon that a fisherman had brought her. As to our boats.....they are our favorites because of their looks, their names and they don't fish with nets!. They have been resting in their winter home since our arrival. The Arctic Fox has headed out into the Pacific for tuna. With a sweeping gesture Mary Ann said WAAAY out into the Pacific. Our favorite, is a very large, clean looking blue and white vessel called Bold Performance. They have been preparing her for departure for several days....repairs and loading supplies. We got up one morning and she was gone. Her destination is up north for mostly black cod and maybe salmon and halibut. How long will they be gone? It depends on the fishing. When they leave, no one knows for sure when they will be home. We are reminded of our stop in Trinidad, CA on the way up. There is a monument there to the fishermen and women lost at sea. Each year there are new flowers and names.
They say there are bears about but we haven't seen any. The local paper warns that folks should be taking in their bird feeders, pet food dishes and BBQ's at night. They especially like compost piles and tasty garbage.
The warmer weather has brought out the paddlers and sailboats. We have a favorite spot up the hill where we can see forever. It is called Mariner's Park. There is a bench and from there we can see all the way to the city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The cruise ships have begun their annual migration to the north. We can hike to the nearby beach on Sunday afternoon and watch them pass one after the other as they make their way to Alaska.
The last 4 1/2 months have passed by with an energy that has infused us with contentment. We feel at peace with our lives. We tend to stay in the present much more easily. This place reminds us of the play, Brigadoon, where the town only comes alive once every 100 years and is preserved that way. The community has accepted us as one of their own. Our new friends are as sad to see us leave as we are to leave. But with renewed spirit, we are excited about our future. The "Yellow Brick Road" beckons. Until next issue, don't forget to smell the lilacs!
We have been looking for a sign that we are on the right path and it came this evening. As we returned from our walk, dark rain clouds moved in from the south and piled up around the mountains. We sat in our lovely window watching the cloud show and the many birds catching the updrafts over the channel. We feel so blessed to be in this special place and we are sad to leave. Suddenly a rainbow stretched itself across our entire world from one end to the other and we knew that we were indeed headed in the right direction. ^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*
Moving Panic ~
May 20, 2003 ~ Gibsons B.C ~ Canada
Oh My!!! It is 2:17 PM. Packing has overwhelmed me. There is so much to pack after only 5 months. Some things will go east with us. Some things will stay in storage until we come back through. Some things will stay in storage until after our assignment in Cottage Grove, OR in September.
Today, mostly I feel like I am in a state of panic. How will we ever get all of this sorted and packed and back in our vehicle??? I must continue to remind myself to breathe. We have met many wonderful people in the last few weeks....some because of our ad, some because of our travels each day, some because of our outreach on the Internet looking at house sitting possibilities.
Many years ago when we first met, we had this dream of traveling and writing. Suddenly, unexpectedly....... here we are and we didn't even realize what was happening. There is far too much to share at this point but when we settle down, we will share about our plans. We have both felt the hand of a greater power. There have been signs and wonders. Sometimes I trust in the journey and sometimes I feel totally panic stricken.....most of the time there is excitement and peace. It is all about letting go.........and not trying so hard to make things happen....giving up control and letting a higher power take over. There seems to be some kind of divine energy that we can each plug into. It is not something one can see clearly or ever begin to understand but one can feel it when the circuit is complete. It is that place of synchronicity......a place of magic and wonder.
The process of sharing with others feels easy. Without our agenda or our schedule, it just happens. Our new and dear sweet friend, Lana Labelle, reached out and put her hand over my heart this morning and said "Just remember that your home is here."
All we have to do is show up...........so much of life is just about showing up. We head out on Saturday because our new housesitting assignment in Georgia has been moved up a week. I cannot believe we are headed to Georgia for the summer. We don't even know these people. We have talked on the phone and we are going to Georgia for the summer?
I found an internet sight called housecarers.com . They charge an annual fee for people like us to read their ads and we get to post a bio about ourselves. I read through all of the ads several times and found this housesit in Georgia. When we spoke to this nice young couple it seemed like an adventure but now we are heading east..... I mean, we have never even been to Georgia. We'll be in Georgia until the 6th of August. We'll get to see Larry's sister and brother-in-law on our way back. Have we lost our minds? We leave Canada with much sadness in our hearts but we will return to this magical place.
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But we have promises to keep
And miles to go before we sleep."
We know that we are headed in the right direction even though we don't know what is around the next turn. Actually, we don't even know what direction we are headed. We know that all we have to do is take the steps.....one at a time. They will lead us where we need to go. We embrace today and trust in our future.