Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Orchard and The Free Store

I took this picture about a month ago. The trees are now finished blossoming and in full leaf. This spring is just whipping by.

I was at the Free Store the other day (it's the ultimate thrift store, run by the regional authority to reduce what goes into landfill)with my brother. He's a little more connected to the world of buying things, so as I was rummaging through a box of junk in search of treasure, I asked "Does it bother you that I'm such a scavenger?", sending my question in the direction of the red-clad legs that were walking past me. "Well, it's a hell of a lot better than being a consumer", came the answer, and I looked up in amazement at his insight. Turns out it was another red shorts wearing guy that I had never met before.

But Rob was in the back, gleefully holding up a perfectly good motorcycle helmet. Just a half hour earlier he had been speculating on the chances of finding a helmet on the island so that he could take a passenger on his return trip.

I tell ya, a trip to the Free Store never disappoints.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This will give you a hint of where I have been hiding out the past few weeks. The much rumoured, now to be seen, GARDEN! *Warning* I'm about to shamelessly add to the kazillion flower pictures in the blogosphere, but they are beautiful, so there!

The two acre garden had been neglected for the last several years. Treasures such as this columbine were just waiting to be discovered amongst the weeds.

I love the dotted stamens of these blossoms.

More blossoms, plum, I think.

This laburnum has been alive with bees for the last week.

A couple of unusual tulips were freed from the snarl of vetch and horsetail.

Some lovely rhododendrons in the yard near the house, so we can enjoy them while attending to ablutions in the bathroom.

Early spring brought more than 15 different types of daffodil to the yard.

This spicy scented rhodo is blooming in an out of the way corner near a giant cedar tree.

The greenhouse, otherwise known as "Versailles" due to the engineering vision of the builder, has been completed, although the fine tuning may go on indefinitely. The hoops are on their second time round as roof supports, after beginning life as the bulkhead of a 737 airplane. How the plane got to Lasqueti is another story.

The tomatoes couldn't wait to get in. I am growing Black Krim, Principe Borghese, Kutenai, and Yellow Pear.

The garlic is chest high.

This is what the garden looked like this morning, a far cry from less than a month ago (below.)

Shawn, one of the island farmers, plowed this for me in an hour.

Succulent spinach is already going into salads.

Five different kinds of lettuce jostle for position. The thinnings go into salads until there's room left for the heads to mature.

Thanks for hanging in with my erratic posts. I'm hoping there will be some stitching to show soon too!

PS to Anna, I have lost your email address. Can you send it to me? Thanks, hope all is well.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Don't Worry

Oops, didn't intend to create such an alarm! But thank you all for your supportive comments. I will be keeping my blog, I just lost the formatting and thought that it might be a good time to re-do the whole thing.

I have been spending all waking hours in the garden and finally have practically everything up and growing. 42 tomato plants a foot high, eggplant, tomatillos and peppers in the greenhouse, 5 rows of potatoes, 4 of leeks and onions, shallots, 100 garlic, 1 row each of spinach, swiss chard, mesclun, Drunken Woman lettuce, peas, fava beans, kale, carrots, beets, parsnips, 2 pyramids of scarlet runner beans, two rows of Black Turtle beans, 4 kinds of squash, 3 rows of sweet corn, raspberries, strawberries and probably a few more things I've forgotten about all rampantly growing.

I think I'll have enough food for the summer!!

Pictures soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Temporary Issues

Something seems to be up with my blog and website. I was thinking of closing down the website anyway because it's so out of date, but will keep the blog going for now. But my lovely custom design seems to have evaporated. Don't worry, the universe is unfolding as it should.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Existential Sadness and Infinite Kindness

I hope I’m no Blanche Dubois, but I have had to rely on the kindness of strangers often in my life. Another chance to reflect on this came up in the last few weeks, instigated a situation with my dog Keiko.

Once we moved to the island, it was jarringly clear that Keiko had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Sweet, gentle and loving when she was at our side, an unrepentant sheep chasing marauder when bored and on her own. Unfortunately the feral island sheep gave her ample opportunity to develop her Mr. Hyde side, and even though we thought we were keeping a close eye on her, she would use the brief lapses in our attention to set out on a 10 minute rampage. She would return without us even knowing she was gone, panting and smiling brightly.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, a neighbour appeared at our door, shouting and swearing and waving his arms wildly, threatening to shoot Keiko the next time he saw her. A few minutes later, another neighbour came to our door, much more gently, to tell us that Keiko had just killed a sheep and left it on her beach. We dealt with the dead sheep (it provided a much appreciated meal for the hungry eagles), but were now faced with the fact that our much loved dog now had a bullet with her name on it. The common wisdom is that once a dog has killed, it has the “taste” and will not hesitate to kill again.

I felt that I had to get her off island for her own safety (and for the safety of the sheep, who nobody looks after, but who nobody wants to see die, either.) After recognizing that, in spite of my best efforts, I couldn’t ensure Keiko had a safe home, I put a call out to the SPCA, but they refused to take her, saying that they would be legally liable if my “killer” dog ever hurt anyone or anything again.

A very kind person who runs a bulletin board for desperate pets listed Keiko on her site. After a couple of weeks of vigilance and worry, I got a call from another young woman who was willing to take Keiko. A virtual angel, she lived on a fenced acreage, had rescued a number of dogs in the past, including her current wolf malamute cross, and a Great Dane that had just died. She had found the Great Dane in a locked apartment laundry room and never allowed to see the light of day, and given her four happy years of freedom before she died of old age. The wolf/malamute had spent its life on the end of a chain, under a death sentence because wolf crosses are considered wild animals and therefore unadoptable.

This lovely young woman obviously had an open, brave, and generous heart, and had devoted her life to saving dogs (while maintaining a very respectable day job.) I was very happy to let her take Keiko, knowing she would give my baby an excellent home. Today I miss Keiko’s happy exuberance and undaunted optimism, I miss the structure her walks and meals gave to the day, I miss the feeling of being protected by a watchful canine friend. But those are my own little issues, and ultimately the best feeling comes from knowing Keiko is now safe.

But this all goes deeper than finding a happy ending to the story of a dog gone wrong. For the last few weeks I have been aware of my own feeling of a fundamental, existential sadness. From the time I was 14 and asked by a minimally trained counselor “Why are you so damn sad?”, through all my ups and down and periods of true depression, there has been lots of sadness, but it hasn’t been until recently that all the noise has fallen away and I am aware of a sadness that is most likely a normal part of the human condition.(The “undertow”, as Garp called it.) There is evil in the world, there are people that are so damaged, angry and in pain that they flail about, unaware of how they spread their affliction. As the lady said, “Abuse of power comes as no surprise.” We all know this and experience the manifestations of it every day. I, in my own tiny speck of existence on a remote corner of the world, could feel the waves of fear and powerlessness lapping at my ankles.

Recent events have reminded me that what keeps this unfathomable sea of sadness from sweeping over us and washing us away are the small, individual acts of kindness and compassion that ordinary people practice everyday. The simple civility of my neighbour who came to speak to me quietly about the upsetting situation with Keiko; the caring of a woman I have never met who makes it her job to find homes for animals in trouble; and the bountiful love extended to my dog by a woman who was still feeling the pain of her own loss.

Of course this is no great revelation or insight, but experiencing it in practice rather just in theory is always illuminating. I am filled with a renewed sense of appreciation of the friends and strangers who, through deliberate intent or natural goodness, have shaped my life with their kindness, compassion and fearless hearts.