Monthly Archives: August 2015

Oh, Canada!

Grand Waltz at Homfray Lodge

By KIMBERLY MAYER

As I write, we have gone to sea. All our cares stay on land when we go. It works every time. The sea is its own reality. This summer has been characterized by inordinate heat, drought, and wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Living on a boat surrounded by water has a calming effect.

We are retracing much of last year’s voyage to Desolation Sound with my sister and brother-in- law.

At 6am sharp, we shoved off from Roche Harbor, Washington. Cleared customs on South Pender Island, never knowing what fruit they are going to confiscate, this time it was eggs. Twenty eggs. We could stay and hard boil them and take them with us, but we wanted to make it in time for passing through Dodd Narrows during slack tide. No time to boil eggs.

In Nanaimo the first night, a busted water hose was discovered and repaired. But when we reached Lund, the last stop before Desolation Sound, something really went wrong. This has happened before on other extended boating trips, so we knew what it was: a migraine. I had O.D.’ed on light in BC Canada yet again.

It was a day I have nearly lost recollection of, but lying in the darkened bunk I had nothing but empathy for my father who at 92 has undergone more medical procedures than humanly possible. I felt inside his body. And the hauntingly beautiful sound of the bagpiper who plays an ode to every sunset at Lund, bringing the sun down with her pipes. That mournful sound became a part of me. But when I heard my brother-in-law’s voice on deck, outside my bunk–clearly it was another South African– “You’ve come,” I cried. “You found us!”

In my delirium I lost a whole day. And wound up that night in the ER for dehydration. Luckily we were near Powell River where there is a hospital, before we had slipped into Desolation Sound where there would be none.

That night, a young physician and nurse were on duty. Both were refugees from the exorbitant cost of living in Vancouver and had come to Powell River to live. Arriving just two months ago, the nurse has already purchased a home she adores, just steps from the beach, “a house for $250,000 that would have cost 4 million in Vancouever.” The physician, a waterfront lot upon which he will build. She’s got her kayak coming and is looking to add a small sailboat to her fleet, “just to explore around.” The physician loves to fish. They will do fine.

With each sweet drip of saline solution in my arm, I was coming alive and began recommending books to the nurse. Books with a sense of place to her new homeland: A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki and The Curve of Time, by Muriel Wylie Blanchet. She wrote them both down and promised to read them. And I promised to wear darker sunglasses. Stay under the Tilley’s hat my sister gave me, and not substitute it for a straw hat no matter how warm. Stay beneath the bimini on the boat, and drink water water water from dawn to dusk.

Map of Desolation

Now onward and upward to Desolation Sound

Canadians know this well, we move through people’s lives and can act pleasant and say thanks where thanks is due. It was the physician, the nurse and taxi cab driver that night for me. But when we can recommend books that we think will mean as much to them, we have really given them something. Reading by the fire in the darkness of her house in the woods at night, she will look up and thank me. I just know it. Readers are a tribe; we recognize each other.

The physician? Naw, he’s a fisherman

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Pleasure Grounds

By KIMBERLY MAYER

 

In my last post it was one step forward, two steps back with the deer ones eating nearly all my plantings, and in the process of watering those plants, thistle grew. An insidious, obnoxious weed.

Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back.

And every now and then, a leap. My theory is that if we weren’t plugging away step by step, we would never reach the ledge where we can jump like that. Leaps are what we live for, after all.

I had been blogging on remodeling for a year before I realized I hadn’t included any “before” and “after” photos, which must be the bread and butter of remodeling blogs. So here it goes:

Back yarrd before

our scrappy lot when we moved in

Stumps and picnic table with view

the Pacific Northwest pleasure grounds it is now.

This is where we weeded, framed the areas, and put down a weed barrier underlayment. Where we carried gravel in 5 gallon buckets, one in each hand for balance, from the driveway where the truck had dumped the load, down a long flight of stairs to empty on the underlayment. Three days of doing this, four yards of gravel. My husband’s FitBit read 12 miles each day. We have a friend on island who sent her gravel downhill by constructing a chute out of tarp. In our case it was a staircase, and so we had to carry.

This is where we dine on an oversized Western red cedar table made by our friend Bill Maas at Egglake Sawmill & Shake. Where we will sit around bonfires at night whenever the drought ends, and otherwise just sit around. Where we wrap ourselves in Pendleton wool throws at night and place our beer or wine or Moscow mule glasses on cedar stump tables beside each chair.

The cedar stumps too came from Egglake Sawmill & Shake, rough with bark. First the edges were routed to create a smooth bevel at the rim and base, then the bark was peeled, and the stumps were sanded–first with a belt-sander, then fine sanding. Finally, multiple coats of a clear polyurethane coating, and when dry, they were good to go.

Stumps on deck

There were eight stumps in total. Four around the fire, three on a deck between Adirondack chairs there too, and one was so grand in size and particularly good looking, I placed it in the living room. My thinking now is that every French bergère chair should have a rustic cedar stump beside it.

Stump in living room

So what if it slants a little?

Outside again, this is where we have every intention to play bocce ball—once we get the right material in the court and compact it with a lawn roller and do everything right. For a premium surface—where the balls roll fast, track straight, and absorb bounce–building a bocce ball court is much like constructing, and maintaining, a Japanese Zen garden. In the end it is covered with crushed oyster shells and dusted with “oyster flour” made from pulverized oyster shells, for proper texture and drainage.*

Who knew?

What a difference a year makes. In Seattle it was all about fine dining, theatre, and literary readings. In the islands, crab boils upon picnic tables, gravel, and oyster flour.

*Note: Ours will be less than perfect. Paul calls it a drunken bocce ball court because it is not completely level.

 

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