Category Archives: Family

As November slips away…

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As November slips away from us and we emerge ourselves completely in all things Christmas, we savoured the last moments of Autumn.

The winter sun is blinding in our house. The sun stays low all day and it shows off all the streaks on the window. Pervasive golden light so intense that I find Gabrielle at the foot of the stairs, hiding in her shadow spot away from the low piercing sun that hurts her eyes. We aren’t complaining about it, it’s just the shape of the house and the path of the sun across the field.

Gabrielle has become quite a serious bonsai tree-keeper. She waters them daily, she mists them, and sings to them and trims any failing leaves. It’s a serious business. Between the bonsais and her worm farm, she is fully employed. It is her work, as she reminds us often.

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The bees are flying. In the low sun, mid afternoon, the ground warms up enough for the bees to scoot outside for a quick pee. Then they duck back inside to their warm clump and go back to knitting each other socks. I always miss the bees a little through the Winter. I fret over them and hope they are surviving through the frosts. Sometimes I press my ear against the outside of the box, hoping to hear a soft hum to let me know that they are still there. That they are still telling each other stories of flowers, and spring and thick honey that they can soon gather. I think of you, Bees, hibernating in your little home while we do the same in ours.

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We gear up for Advent, and Brie’s birthday and Christmas, and we practice our numbers and letters to wile away the winter.

Like the bees, we tell each other stories of flowers and Spring and thick honey, while we knit each other socks.

Here on Pender Island…


I feel like I should be saying, “Meanwhile down at the ranch…” But I want to impart small gift-wrapped presents that Pender Island has given me this week. And maybe these gifts were available to me last week but my eyes were open this week. Open to Pender Island. Oh Pender, I see you now!IMG_3554 IMG_3559

I encourage my child to do chores around the house. Call it what you will, but she’s three and a half, as she reminds me every day, and she is learning responsibility. Like cleaning windows. (Above) and carrying her own snacks and toys to the beach. And when my fellow mom-friend asks what’s in her backpack, I tell her that Gabrielle is carrying her own snacks now, she tells me that she makes her kid do that all the time. Pender Moms. I love them.


When I eat at the sushi place on Pender, they put my name at the top of my bill. When I order pizza at the local pub, the bartender asks about pregnancy complications that her friend is suffering. When I vote on Pender and my address is wrong, the lady at the ballot box says to me, “Why does it say that address? You’ve never lived there! I know exactly where you live. I’ll get that changed right away.”

Oh Pender. You have my heart.

IMG_3568 IMG_3571 IMG_3585 IMG_3590On Pender, we celebrate an exciting adventure when we are down on the beach. And this adorable little peach is standing for the first time, with an empty *ahem* beer bottle in her hand.

Put another delicata squash on the barbecue! Tess is standing!

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And when the frost comes, she insists we go out and “Be in it, Mom! And Taste it!”

IMG_3641 IMG_3646 IMG_3648 IMG_3652 IMG_3655 IMG_3656 IMG_3657 IMG_3658My poor little garden is all put to sleep now. And so are the bees, in their tight little winter clumps where I imagine them all knitting each other socks, just to keep warm.

We have kale, leeks and carrots in the garden still and we are eating up our preserves now. This is rather the sad time of the year when it comes to the garden. The wood stove glows gloriously hot and we get to play in all our knitted accessories.

This is Pendering in November. Happy Winter!

In Summary: She, Me and Him in October


Gabrielle started ballet this September. It is as cute as watching kittens run around aimlessly and bonk into each other and the wall and the furniture. We saw “Awww,” then cringe a little and send our condolences to the teacher.

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The photo below is not in focus, but it is a meal where we provided completely for ourselves. A chicken that Marc butchered, carrots and potatoes we grew ourselves. I spend barely any time in the produce section, unless I’m buying bananas, so I hope the cashier doesn’t judge me and think we don’t eat any veggies at home. We are overrun and blessed with scads of veggies. And we are giving them away like hot cakes, because the fruit flies are multiplying. Oh the dreaded fruit flies!IMG_2890 IMG_2937 IMG_2946 IMG_2965 IMG_2989 IMG_2992

I taught a beekeeping class in September and it was received well. I am looking at writing more curriculum for different classes I’m thinking of teaching so that will keep me busy.IMG_3002 IMG_3007 IMG_3084 IMG_20140826_181857

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Gabrielle has begun informal preschool at home with me. We are having a good time as we inconsistently learn letters and numbers a few times a week. She is already recognizing words. She amazes me!IMG_20140918_124058 IMG_20140919_151042

I’ve been trying to bake a lot of our own bread. It just tastes So Much Better!IMG_20140921_093557


We went blueberry picking in September. Most of the berries were done but we still got a whole bucket. I’ve become quite a lot more adventurous in my processing techniques compared to last year.IMG_20140922_172304 IMG_20140924_164213 IMG_20140925_102615

Gabrielle has been farming with every toy we have.IMG_20140925_135519 IMG_20140925_165434 IMG_20140926_095048

Life has been busy, bursting at the seams, but nourishing all the same. We are intentionally moving into Autumn as we begin planting our garlic and putting the garden beds to sleep. Then the sun comes out again and we dash outside for some hoola hooping, bean picking madness. My morning runs have become like dreams. It is dark and the shadowy leaves blow across the road as I pad along with my headlamp bouncing. I find myself accepting the changing of seasons, even embracing it, but also looking forward to next year’s new beginnings. But I suppose I could use a little bit of hibernation.

Now, to stack some wood. Soon daily fires will be our reality.

Happy October!

Living with the Seasons: A Nip of Autumn

I really love how our life revolves around the seasons. In August, we extract honey and process tomatoes. In September, we bring in the squash. We stack firewood. I watch my bees bringing in pollen in the spring, and capping their honey for the winter. Living with the seasons could be one of my favourite parts about living on Pender Island. The seasons feel “close” here. Maybe it’s because the windows are thin. Maybe it is living more rurally. But whatever it is, I feel the seasons here.

I’ve often wondered if I were blind-folded, and placed in a season, if I could recognize it from the smells. Right now, the sun is rising later. When I wake up early in the morning to run, I beat the sunrise. There is a nip to the air and now I’m reaching for my down vest. And there is a dry crumbling smell as the leaves start to die on the branches and the eager ones are already under-foot and crackling.

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And there is something satisfying in all this. Something wholesome and natural. And then it warms my heart even more when Gabrielle sniffs the air, and sees the leaves, and stacks the wood and plucks the apples off the tree and she says thoughtfully, “Autumn must be coming soon. I’m falling over more often.”

Logic of a three year old. It cannot be beat.

August Part 2: Camping at Great Central Lake

So if you are living on Pender Island, you take the ferry to Victoria. Then drive three hours north and then west to Port Alberni. Then drive another hour on logging roads and eventually you will arrive at Great Central Lake.

The camping is divine. Free!! And empty. Exactly my kind of camping trip.

After the busyness of Summer, babies, canoe-building, it was lovely to have some down time to reconnect as a family again. It was nice not only to recognize each other’s faces but also remember each other all the way through.

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We had this brilliant idea (ok, it was my idea, and it was less than brilliant) to drive 3 hours on logging roads out to a tiny coastal town called Bamfield. They have this really cool marine biology station out there where people can take classes and study our beautiful sea life. They have a touch tank where you can touch “Real Creatures!!” (exclaimed Brie, excitedly.) She was enthralled.IMG_2362 IMG_2347 IMG_2342 IMG_2340

You can also take a boat to get there. But that isn’t nearly as fun as a 3 hour gravel road. Nope. Not at all…IMG_2335 IMG_2327 IMG_2324 IMG_2323 IMG_2317 IMG_2314 IMG_2309 IMG_2303 IMG_2294 IMG_2284 IMG_2266 IMG_2264 IMG_2263 IMG_2261 IMG_2249It took a full day for our family to find it’s rhythm again. Then when we remembered each other, we fell into a smoothness, a deep knowing, and we really enjoyed ourselves.

But the fun was just beginning. Then we went for a luxurious cabin-stay with my whole family in Tofino. After camping, having a hot tub on the deck was luscious.

More coming!