Adventurous types…

A shortish piece for a week where we’ve been worried about friends and family not doing so well, medically speaking. That said, it doesn’t have to be all gloom (although, the January weather here – please, weather gods, just a few hours of blue sky! Is that too much to ask?!) Right, on with the story:

Blue sky! Not much, admittedly, but there’s a patch!

L, a good friend, was taken unwell recently and rushed off to a local hospital. Alright, we’ll go see how he’s doing. Nope, not there, he was transported to a larger hospital the next big town up. No worries, we’re heading there Tuesday, we can drop in. Ten minutes before arrival, I picked up a voicemail. “Hey, L here, I’m not in Port, I’m in Victoria!” We can do that, had plans to be in Victoria at the weekend, so called back and left a message saying we’d track him down… By the time we got home from Port, a new voicemail. “Don’t go to Victoria, I’ll be heading to Tofino by the time you hear this!” Sure, that’s an easy reach from home.

Older and wiser heads

We finally caught up with L in Tofino. I thought he might be a touch miffed what with all the travel. Nope, not a bit of it! Instead, a model of grace and calm. He’s been hither and thither, up and down and over and across the island in the past week. Prodded and poked, weighed and measured, yet still in pretty good humour given the circumstances.

On the way to Port – or was it on the way back? Losing track!

Smiling as he recounted his travels, he whispered he doesn’t need but would quite like an air ambulance to the mainland, just to grow his recent medical transportation collection, you know, to complete the set.

As we’re here…

Over the years, L has been a logger, a fisherman and a trucker, loving aspects of each – particularly the travel – the more difficult and remote the better. So being bumped around in an ambulance on roads that have seen better days wasn’t too bad. “The medics couldn’t understand why I was so happy! I didn’t mind, seen worse, felt worse!”

Blue skies! Really! Short-lived, but it happened…

I left L with a pile of sports and outdoor adventure-type books he’s keen to read. “Yeah, you can go now. Let’s see what we’ve got here. Hockey? I dunno, not any more, not at my age. Hold on! Mountain climbing, eh? Haven’t done much of that, could be good…”

Adventurous? Yessir! Busy right now, so how about tomorrow?

Yes, mountain climbing, eh! Well, why not? Curiosity and being an adventurous type can keep one going. L has about 25 years on me, and I wouldn’t put it past him to be out in front again soon, with me struggling to keep up.

Mountains? Let’s start with a low one!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a pleasant weekend!

Log, rock, wind and rain…

Could be a nursery rhyme, could be what we chant as we head along the shore, and it could sum up our recent outings.

Yesterday morning had the sort of weather that could ruin your hair do, but with a toque and rain hood protecting my hair don’t, and Scout happy enough as a high shedding short hair, we didn’t let the start of a storm stop us from looking great as we headed out.

Straggly and flattened, as the barber often tells me

Definitely a high energy nature turning up the power kind of a morning. Gulls were wheeling and swooping, seemingly just for the fun of it. Waves rushed in, sporting wind blown crests and crowns, and the noise was almost overwhelming – rain on hood, wind through trees, screeching gulls, the lighthouse foghorn, and the scrunch/crunch gravel sounds of the tide running up and then down. What a blast!

A blast!

Earlier in the week, we’d trotted back up the trail to see if our favourite little cove was accessible, knowing full well it wouldn’t be even after the bulk of the storm had passed. We could hear the thump and thud of logs in the surf before we got there, and when we reached our little viewpoint just off the trail, we were met with quite the sight. I even took a short video:

A short video

Anyway, we’ll keep it fairly brief this week as we need some time to towel dry our hair, see if we can’t get ourselves halfway presentable. Although, why bother, as rumour has it there’s another big one rolling in this weekend! Ready? Log, rock, wind and rain…

“No, no, not this one, I’m not ready – look at my hair!”

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

“Yes, this one!”

Incoming

The turn of the year has brought a fair number of blustery days, and these have been good for blowing away any cobwebs and waking us up.

A day to be above and not on the beach

We’ve stuck to the coastal trails after each storm, excited to see the waves and admire the churning waters. One of our favourite little beaches has been off limits due to high tides and strong surges. On a calm day you can sit beneath the rocks and look up at the enormous logs, marvelling at how big the weather must have been to wash them up there.

That’ll do it

We’re looking forward to calm day so we can scramble down to the beach, see what’s been washed up – Scout is convinced there must be a decent chew twig or two – and we wouldn’t mind a few quiet minutes with a cup of coffee and waving at the resident bald eagles drying their feathers out (the two wet blobs in a couple of the photos this week are the said eagles – they are stoic!)

Churning

Looking at the forecast for the next couple of weeks, those calmer days are still a little while off, but it’s been pleasant to notice and enjoy an extra daylight minute or two as the days slowly lengthen…

Here comes another one!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Very big matchsticks
January 2022 Down on that beach, on a calm day!

Almost home

Scout and I enjoyed a couple of almost warm and mostly sunny walks one day earlier this week. We rounded the last bend of the street just before home and found we liked the way the smoke from a nearby chimney was wafting through and across the treetops.

Almost home (and two Narnia streetlights)

The second of our two walks that day took us along the coastal path to a sunny little spot that is often warm in the sun even if the overall air temperature is low. It proved to be so that afternoon, and we enjoyed a pleasant few minutes in the sun. Never one to be still too long, Scout was soon pushing for us to move on.

“Let’s go!” (I like how Scout almost matches the diagonal lines in this one – but as far as Scout is concerned, it’s about her, not the lines…)

I was surprised by how low the sun was, although I shouldn’t have been given we’re approaching the shortest daylight hours very soon. The next photograph was taken before 2pm but seems later:

1:37 PM

We hurried along the path for a few more minutes, wanting to enjoy more of the sun and sparkling water before darkness fell and winter returned. Yes, the rumour is that we’ll be experiencing a little more snow sometime next week. I’m trying not to get too excited, but please let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, as somebody once sang. Not me.

1:35 PM (I couldn’t think of a caption)

Almost home! Not too bad. I’ll leave it here this week, and wish you a wonderful weekend ahead!

PS For anyone excited by the baking adventures I’ve been having as prompted by Nigel Slater, I had a go at his banana and cardamom cake, and it was pretty good. Banana and cardamom cake

A pinch, a dash, a dollop…

I was happily engrossed in making mincemeat for festive pies the other day, noodling away in the kitchen, mostly adhering to Nigel Slater’s instructions as written in “The Christmas Chronicles” and letting my mind wander in between the more precise measurements. At this point, I should say a huge thank you to Mrs. PC. She knows I’m not overly fond of the Christmas season, although I do like an excuse to cook something seasonal, and she knows I’m often most contented in the kitchen. On top of my usual lack of enthusiasm for “all that tinsel and other shiny stuff” – I don’t know who said that – I’ve also been moping more than normal for the time of year. Mrs PC’s excellent solution was to give me a copy of the aforementioned Slater collection.

Highly recommended

Aside from the off putting (to me) title, this is a wonderful book. I love Nigel Slater’s descriptive writing, meticulous, maybe even overly fussy and fastidious approach to cooking and life, as well as his dry British wit. Oh, and his recipes are always interesting. Mr. Slater says he’s not so much a Christmas enthusiast as a winter enthusiast, his favourite season, and all this is explored throughout the pages of the book. Christmas is in it, but it’s more a wholehearted embrace of the colder months and how to enjoy them from a kitchen and cooking perspective. (I have to say, as he gets older, it’s clear he enjoys Christmas rather more than he might want you to think, and I suspect it is all to do with the rituals. Having the “right” tree, bringing the box(es) of tree ornaments down from the attic, taking the time to send individually chosen and handwritten – with a fountain pen – cards, making the cake several weeks before, and preparing homemade mincemeat for mince pies. Is he right? Hmm…)

All the right trees

Mrs. PC says of course you like Nigel Slater, you share some of his traits. Do I? I’m not so sure that’s true. I’m a little obsessed by certain rituals. I mean, there is the delight I take in properly preparing coffee, a beer needs to be poured a certain way and in a certain glass, the left sock is always before the right, and doesn’t everyone weigh pasta precisely before cooking it? I think we’ll leave this paragraph here, and move on.

Highly recommended – just the right tasting glass

Where were we? What’s with “a pinch, a dash, a dollop”? I was coming to that. Remember ages ago, at the start of this piece, I mentioned I was letting my mind wander? A few years ago I was chatting with a friend about various chefs, and we agreed Jamie Oliver was a personable chap and had many great recipes. I like his approach – he is quite happy to add a glug, dollop, pinch or dash of an ingredient to his dishes. There are measures given, especially and quite rightly for baking, but there is a freedom with some additions. Our friend said she found that infuriating, and could not get her head around it. How much is a glug or splash? How big of a pinch, and what size is a dollop? What even is a dollop?! She is way more meticulous than me, with a mathematical and scientific mind, and she could not get a handle on Jamie Oliver’s approach. Her frustration makes me appear super-chilled (because I am, of course) and as I added a pinch or two of nutmeg this week, her laughing disbelief at a lack of precise measurement came back to me. I smiled, then added another dash of nutmeg and a glug or two of brandy.

A light frosting

I’ll end with a mince pie story. Or a missed pie story. It’s not terribly exciting – feel free to jump off or head out now if you’re still here.

As a child I absolutely loved mince pies, particularly the ones my mother made. She’d bake a batch and then fend off her four greedy boys with a spatula, telling us to wait until they were cool enough to eat, and eventually letting us try one, even though they were far too hot. Serves us right, and let that be a lesson, laughing at us all teary-eyed and trying to hide how we should have waited a few more minutes. Anyway, too hot, just right or even slightly stale (not that many sat around long enough for that to happen back then) I adored mince pies. One year, early January, aged 11 and about to turn 12, I was draped across the sofa feeling sorry for myself (some things never change – Mrs.PC) and saying I was feeling sick. My mum wanted to use up the rest of the mincemeat, and asked if I’d like a batch of pies for my birthday. Unbelievably, I said “no thanks” and that’s when my mother knew I was truly unwell. To this day I often think about those missed pies, and I’ve made every effort since to eat an extra one or two to make up for the lost ones. I never seem to catch up… Anyway, isn’t this where we came in? Me, in the kitchen, making a few mince pies…

Super chilled

Gosh, is that the time? I’ll finish up now, get this posted, and then settle down with a cup of coffee and perhaps, I don’t know, a mince pie? Coffee first. Start by measuring the beans…

Super chilled! Might as well if he’s started on the coffee and pies. Not going anywhere too soon…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

PS The Slater pies are good, but not as good as the ones my mother makes!

“Let’s go out, let’s go out!”

OK, Scout, keep your hair on!

“How can you resist? Let’s go out!”

Why the big hurry from Scout? I think because she’s a snow dog, and the weather gods had heard my pathetic whining last week, so we were rewarded with a day of snow. I believe that’s how these things work? Snow? Hooray! First thing in the morning, it wasn’t all that much to get excited about – don’t tell Scout I said that – but we went down to the beach anyway. Light flurries, and the start of a biting wind, but that was it. Pretty enough.

Almost snowing…

As the day progressed, the wind got wilder and the snow got heavier, to the point where we got home and off the roads before other travellers also got off the road by sliding into verges and walking the rest of the way. Yes, there were a number of abandoned vehicles scattered at various points along the road the next day, but no serious incidents.

It turned into the sort of day best enjoyed from home – it really wasn’t a strolling in a winter wonderland kind of day due to the very blustery conditions. Scout indicated she wasn’t too happy about that, so I opened the front door for her to confirm that perhaps she didn’t really want to go out? She took one step – maybe not even as many as that – and promptly turned back indoors. Yes she’s a snow dog, but also a wise dog.

“This is ok…”
“…but I’m not going out in that!”
“Let’s stay in, let’s stay in! You’re going to the lighthouse? I’ll pass…”

Well, we did go down to the lighthouse, without Scout, to see how it looked in the snow, but it was so sideways and gusty, the snow wasn’t sticking and details were hard to find. We beat a tactical retreat and told Scout it was great…

No sign of the ocean

I’ll leave it here for this week, happy enough that we had a pretty cool snow day or two, and wondering if the call for more snow before the weekend is accurate…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

From the kitchen window

Sparse

A bit thin, not much on top. A post about male pattern baldness, or something else? You decide…

Scout and I have been doing our best to enjoy early morning walks. We live and wander in a very green and pleasant place, a rainforest skirting the edge of the ocean. So the trying isn’t so bad, let’s be clear about that. It’s less the place, more the time of year. I’m not a huge fan of November.

Sparse

When we lived in Calgary, November was a month of promise but little delivery. There was (in my head) always the hope of decent snow, and sometimes the higher runs in the mountains delivered earlier in the month, but often not. In town, leaves had dropped long ago – mid to late September, and without snow, it always looked a touch drab. Less so here, due to the previously mentioned rainforest, full of evergreens, but the last of the deciduous leaves are dropping, and bare patches are apparent.

Full of evergreens – stop complaining!

Again, not so bad, but combined with the (admittedly long overdue) fall rains, shorter daylight hours and grey skies, it all feels a bit dreary. November blahs! Having been spoiled by the warmer late summer and fall, it seems a tougher adjustment to the grey and damp this year. Like male pattern baldness, hardly a major concern, but it’s there! I guess I’ll pull on the wooly toques, and get acquainted or reacquainted with the coastal winter. Might need a trip or two up island, get into the mountains there and wallow in the snow…

Damp and grey – but lovely, so get used to it!

A sparse post this week on a thin topic, those early winter blues. Or greys. To finish on a more positive note – November is almost over!

And it’s not always November grey… some early winter blues!

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful weekend – and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating that just to the (somewhat warmer?!) south.

There’s grey and there’s grey – a hint of sun here…
“Don’t listen to him – it’s great here!”

Turbulent…

Turbulent?! Oh no, it’s not a rant is it? Turbulent! Well now, this could apply to quite a lot – the economy? Politics? Weather? One’s stomach? No, no, not the last, all is well, and I wouldn’t go so far as to write on such matters. And it’s not a rant either. Not this week anyway…

Incoming

So, the economy? Do we want my take on fiscal responsibility and supply side reforms? Gilts and bonds? Why green initiatives make economic sense given you might want to be alive – stop, just stop, PlaidCamper, you know when you start to rant, it’ll guarantee a frosty reception in some quarters. No need…

Frosty reception

Let’s skip economics, important though the topic is, and also skip politics so all our blood pressures remain relatively stable. Although I can’t resist saying, given the midterm outcomes as of Wednesday morning, things could have been worse. Would have preferred better, but anyway. Glimmers of hope…?

Hope

That the leaves the weather! A safe enough topic if I resist the temptation to start on about the environment. No worries, at least for now – we’ve got as far as this paragraph, and blood pressure is within norms, let’s keep it that way. The weather being turbulent is where we are this week!

Best viewed from a distance

After a mostly delightful and balmy fall period, the weather finally broke and we’ve received much needed rain. Last weekend brought a robust storm, one that left many without power for a day or two, and we’d fully expected to be in that boat, but were spared this time. It was great to be down on the shore, well back from the crashing waves, and enjoying an exhilarating blast of ocean air. A day to hold on to your hat.

On the shore

Then we had a good old calm after the storm, and woke to a close to wintry scene of frost and frozen rain/snow that took a few hours to melt away. It has remained persistently cold ever since, with mostly blue skies and brisk mornings, and an almost perfect way to shake oneself awake after a bit of reluctance to step outside.

Chill

I’ll leave it for this week, as we must go and pack for a quick trip to Victoria, where hopefully we’ll still be enjoying the cold and bright days, and making the most of it knowing the rain will return. Sometimes, turbulent isn’t so bad when it’s followed by calm…

“Reluctant to step outside on a cold day? Me? Never!”

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

“I’m never turbulent, and always chilled…”

Way back when…

…I was a schoolboy, aged 10, my teacher was Mr. Ross Laugher (pronounced law, not laugh-er if you valued your recess time) and he was, initial impressions and appearances to the contrary, a lovely man. Over the years, I’ve been taught by, learned alongside, learned from, and taught or mentored dozens and dozens of wonderful educators, and of them all it was Mr. Laugher who came to mind as I was walking with Scout this morning.

Damp

I suspect he popped into my head because I remember him as being so enthusiastic about the natural world. Scout, as ever, was being enthusiastic about the natural world. It was a brisk and barely above freezing outing, and we were checking in with our favourite trees and inhaling the invigorating air, damp and mossy after the overnight rains. I think Scout maps the world through her nose. Light or dark, wet or dry, she has an unerring instinct when finding her way. Scout scouting!

A favourite tree

Back to Mr. Laugher. If you didn’t know him, or were apprehensive about moving into his classroom for your final year in elementary school, you might have thought he was a slightly forbidding and imposing figure. Bearded, gold wire rim spectacles, collar and tie, corduroy slacks, an array of sweater vests, and a brisk and purposeful way with movement and words, he induced a nervousness amongst pupils who weren’t taught by him. You’ve probably had teachers like that? They have a bit of a reputation for being fierce, but if you’re lucky enough to be in their class, it turns out to be a case of bark worse than bite? Ross Laugher was like that to me. It wasn’t that he couldn’t be strict – he was – but he was fair, and you knew where the lines were.

Bark? No!

He encouraged questions, looking up answers, reading, using the library, map making, experimentation, responsibility, common sense and using your senses. I don’t remember seeing him laugh or having a sense of humour, at least not with students, but he praised enthusiasm and effort.

Bark? Yes!

Friday afternoons in the upper elementary school were devoted to clubs. You could choose from (or were assigned based on seniority and if you had previously attended or not) cookery, clay, puppets (yikes, too scary, no thanks), bird club, needlework, painting, drama, music, model making and likely many others I’ve forgotten. Mr. Laugher ran the bird club and grade 5 me did not want to be there. It was bad enough thinking about the 50:50 possibility of being in his class for grade 6, so why run into him any earlier? For the record, in grade 6 I wanted to be in Mr. Lemaire’s class. He taught music, had that early 1970s rock band hair, flared trousers and no scary gold glasses. Like, cool, man.

Another favourite

Anyway, the education gods knew best, and I got Mr. Laugher in grade 6 and bird club not puppets the back end of grade 5. Bird club? Nooooo, I thought, that’s too square, man…We would go on walks through the school grounds, peering in hedgerows and up at trees, trying to spot nests, scaring birds off before we could identify them, then sitting with binoculars hoping the scared birds would return. We also looked for tracks, put up bird houses and filled feeders. Back in class, we were encouraged to draw maps to include what we’d discovered, and use reference books to identify what we thought we’d seen, then draw and/or paint any bird that we liked. (I was always rather taken by the storm petrel. Yup, I’d also like to know why…) For homework, we were encouraged to keep a bird spotting diary. Homework? For a school club?! Like, no, man…

Bird club

I would never have chosen bird club – in my young and shallow world view, Mr. Laugher would not be mistaken for my real role models, you know, a rock god or footballer – but it turned out it was all a good fit. Superstar sports and music ambitions aside, I was already enthused by maps, and had that odd childhood love of identifying and categorizing anything from cars and planes, to tanks and trains, so bird club made a kind of sense.

I even did the homework, making maps of our backyard and noting tracks and bird sightings. Robins, thrushes and sparrows mostly. Nope, no storm petrel. As we’re all enjoying these tales from the distant past, shall we add a few more details as I remember them of childhood me?

“Is he still talking about himself? I can’t bear to watch or listen…”

Outside of school clubs, I collected football stickers, had a brief flirtation with stamp collecting, was far too keen on old WWII movies, loved Viking, Greek and Roman myths and legends, anything Arthurian (reading this now, how did I not end up some kind of swivel-eyed right leaning loon?), tales of Robin Hood (phew, looks like I also had a leaning to the left and concern for fair redistribution of wealth from the 1%) and also spent time frequently modifying and falling off modified bicycles. I never enjoyed train-spotting, because that was for nerds. Yes, I know what some of the sentences before that describe, but c’mon, there are degrees of nerd…(Oh, ok, I might have been train-spotting once or twice with friends, and I might have enjoyed it. But we’ll keep that quiet?)

Misty, slightly faded

And once again back to Mr. Laugher. He opened my eyes to the natural world in my own backyard, school yard and neighborhood. He helped me see the small natural wonders and start to understand how they are actually rather large. He wasn’t the first or only person to do this. Parents and grandparents also encouraged a love of learning and sense of curiosity, and any number of family, friends and colleagues have also done so since. But as I said at the top, it was Ross Laugher who popped into my head this morning. And here we are, many years later, me the bearded teacher, sometimes requiring glasses, and corduroys in the closet. Talk about teacher influence… Wait a minute! No no, it’s ok, I don’t have a sweater vest. How could I? There’s only one Ross Laugher – an excellent teacher and role model, and in my mind, no one will ever rock a sweater vest the way he did…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Rainforest reminder

After a somewhat worryingly lengthy dry spell, the weather has taken a turn for the expected the past few days, and reminded us we do live in a rainforest. Temperatures have gone down, hoods have gone up, and relatively normal meteorological service has resumed.

Definitely damp

Scout can usually be relied on to jump up and be first out of the door if a walk is mentioned, but she was decidedly less enthusiastic this week as she heard the rain bouncing on the roof. In fairness, it was quite loud, and her ears are quite large. Fortunately, her curiosity always gets the better of her, or at least a fear of missing out on potential hiking snacks, and her mood always improves after the first few steps. Or bits of kibble. I find I’m the same, although I haven’t tried the kibble.

Greener

The forest smells right, with a return to wet and mulchy rather than dry and dusty, and to my eyes the greens are greener. I’ve missed the pattering of rain on leaf and raincoat, and although there’s much to enjoy hiking in the dry, it’s nice the temperatures have dropped a bit. It all feels a bit more alive somehow.

Not so gentle patter

The forecast is for a fair amount of rain the next two weeks, and we have definitely entered rain season, so let’s see how far our early enthusiasm goes. Will it be dampened? Probably not, as long as Scout can endure the indignity of towel drying each time we get home. I do assure her it’s laughing with and not at her, but she remains unconvinced…

“You said you wouldn’t share this one…”

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Seasonal greens
“Large ears? Me? Not a problem, other than I can hear him when he thinks he’s being funny…”