Category Archives: Gulf Island Living

And now that September is almost gone!


As you can tell from my lack of blogging, September has been busy. I’ve done 4 babies this month. We started another year of homeschooling. This is our first “official” year as Gabrielle is registered in Kindergarten through the homeschooling program at the school.IMG_0209

For our first day of school, we made a time capsule, to be opened on the last day of school. She has goals for this year. She wants to learn how to climb trees, read and write, and finally, she wants to learn every bone in the human body. Ya know, nothing lofty for an almost-five-year old.IMG_0216

This is our first day of “school” with the Spring Leaves program at Pender Elementary school. I’d say we are on the right track! A sunny beach day, really it doesn’t get better.IMG_0221 IMG_0606

Because kindergarten is mostly about games, we play lots of games. For reading, we obviously use books, we use the game like the one above. And I picked up a sight-word Bingo game. And we do lots of letter practice by writing notes and signs. For math, I picked up a Saxon math curriculum from another homeschooling mama who was getting rid of it. It’s a bit advanced for her yet and since we want to keep everything light and fun, we do a lot of playing with cuisinaire rods.

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We extracted honey, with another batch coming. It’s delicious. Different than last year. I found last year’s batch quite dark, and the year before, quite light. This year you can taste a burst of flowers at the end. It’s divine!


I got to be involved in a Doula Get-together. Past clients brought their babies to the park and we ate snacks and got to visit. It was so wonderful to see these families. They are so so dear to my heart and I felt very blessed to be invited into their lives through such a big transition. Thank you for coming friends.

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And then just because I have permission, here are some beautiful babies that have come this month. Oh aren’t they squishy delicious?

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Happy Autumn!

The Time it takes to Slow Down


(photo curtesy of Hans Tammemagi)

A friend got bees this year. Her very first hive and the wax is clean and fresh. The bees are buzzing and enjoying her copious flowers. But this way to get honey, it is much slower than simply buying it at the store.IMG_8637

This is our year supply of garlic. We planted it from cloves we saved from last year. We put the cloves in the ground in October and finally, after 9 months of gestating in the ground, it is ready to be hung, dried and eaten. But how much faster is it to go to the store and buy a couple heads of garlic at a time? And garlic is one of the easiest things we grow. It still requires watering, mulching, weeding, and then when it is finally time to harvest, we clean it and hang it. Time. It takes time to add quality to our life.

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We had a day off together recently, which happens rarely because when Marc is working I am home and then on weekends we do a switch. After packing up our backpacks, we went on a hike and found a geocache. We explored. Even this, with a four year old, takes time. We stop and talk about the trees we see, the bugs we see, the slugs. We examine the dam a beaver built, and imagine we are ducks enjoying the copious duckweed. We provide offerings to the trolls who must live under the bridge. All this exploring is incredibly valuable, but again, it takes time to slow down.IMG_8827

Our skies were overcast for several days because of the forest fires raging near us. The lighting was eerie but when the rain came, it made us that much more grateful.IMG_8829 IMG_8831

This photo above is us showing Gabrielle how to make pasta. When pasta is so cheap from the store, it seems counter-intuitive to make it. But the difference in quality, the difference in flavour, is vast. IMG_20150617_151905

And some garlic scape pesto to go with it, well that just sounds divine.IMG_20150621_211225 IMG_20150621_211257 IMG_20150625_104346

Gabrielle lives in a world where she expects the seeds she stuffs into the soil to pop up. She sits down at the dinner table and expects us to know where the food on her plate comes from. Her life is slow and she is often told that now we must wait. IMG_20150627_063917 IMG_20150629_110047 IMG_20150629_141044 IMG_20150706_133953 IMG_20150708_104354 IMG_20150708_114109

Above is the very last of our onions. They just barely lasted until we pulled up our crop this year. I breathed a sign of relief and cut the final onions into a salsa fresca with our tomatoes that are just ripening on the vine.

Jam all the fruits!


I really really wanted to u-pick strawberries this year. But there are no u-picks for strawberries on Pender Island, which meant I had to get to Victoria with my child, and allot enough time to pick. The only time this happened, happened to be the very last day u-pick strawberries were open. The berries were wizened and sparce but we went, dang it! And we got enough to make the strawberry jam I’d been craving.IMG_8576

But when it came to u-pick raspberries, I didn’t have the same staunch determination. I bought a flat of berries from a local farm and was done with it.IMG_8578 IMG_8581

My car smelled amazing on the ferry ride home.IMG_8586

I may be a hippy in many things, but with this batch of jam, I used regular pectin and lots of sugar. IMG_8588

In a day, I made raspberry, strawberry and blueberry jam. It was like a jam factory at my house and it smelled delicious. On the way home from picking the strawberries, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up pectin and more canning jars, an elderly lady behind us in the line asked me if I was actually going to make jam. She lamented that none of her grandchildren were interested in jam-making and the “old ways of doing things.” She was amazed that young people were still doing this. I told her that I thought all the “young” jam-makers I knew live on Pender Island.

She said she was 92 and her husband was 101. And I wondered quietly how much knowledge we were losing about the “old ways.” And then on the heels of that thought, I wondered how the heck I got here! Why was I making jam with my kid on a tiny island instead of buying it from the store? What attracts me to the old ways of doing things?


By the way, the jam turned out wonderfully.


Finally we can sail again!

Every Spring or Summer we get the boat ready for another season of sailing, as much as my on-call schedule will allow. And every year Marc and I wonder if boating will become easier with Gabrielle. And what will be the new challenges of cruising with a child. One year, we tried to go out in lumpy seas when she was quite small (under two) and she protested vehemently. One year she was fairly easy to string up in a jolly jumper but whenever it came to docking or anchoring, she required immediate attention. The result was that every time we were pulling into a dock or an anchorage, it was to the symphony of a screaming baby.


Last year, the couple times we actually got out to sail, she fell asleep every time the engine was on. This year is another new chapter. She’s model 4.5 Sailing Fantastico. She insists on helping us steer.


But she looks behind us when she steers. She was pleasant and curious when we put up the sails and shut off the engine. She didn’t mind the heeling over as well sailed.


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But she is firmly into the destination and not just the cruising aspect. When can we get off and explore? So we aimed our sails for Prevost Island and off we went. IMG_8696 IMG_8704 IMG_8710 IMG_8717 IMG_8740 IMG_8743 IMG_8762

(Above is a weird goat sheep creature we saw on the island. We assume it’s wild and roaming around. We were perplexed by the horns and the breed.)

We hiked around the island for a couple hours. Model 4.5 is terrific at hiking with very little whining. We appreciate her strong legs and her repaired heart. Our biggest challenge throughout our sail and explore was her aversion to wasps right now. She was stung for the first time a week or two ago, and since then there has been a lot of trepidation around these tiny insects. So we are learning new parenting skills at how to teach her about real risk vs. perceived risk. Real Danger vs. Perceived Danger. I wish so much, as I have many times before, that my particular kid came with her very own manual.


Sailing is my happy place. I feel like it fills up my soul. I hope the summer is giving you time for the things that replenish your soul too!

The Summer Scramble

IMG_20150603_220752We’ve been scrambling to keep up with the changing seasons. I moved the cushions down to the sailboat and realized it needs a good scrub before we venture out. Marc is madly using every spare second to work on the canoe. And the babies do not stop coming. The garden is growing into a luscious forest of veggies and weeds. And we remember to breathe. Sometimes. IMG_20150528_065743 IMG_20150528_065716

I’m working on a knitting project that I haven’t had the courage to do until now. I’m knitting a cowichan sweater. I had great visions, measured carefully, borrowed a pattern, was gifted some yarn and bought a little more. And after all that planning, it appears that it will fit Gabrielle nicely. Not me.

And I’m remembering to breathe.IMG_20150527_124818 IMG_20150523_163223

We are sneaking in visits with friends and family and scurrying out to the beach as much as possible. It’s so hard to fit it on all in, with the glorious weather, and the beautiful surroundings. So we feel a bit rushed to do all of our enjoying and all of our chores and just to do everything!

And then we breathe.

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And sometimes, there are dinosaurs on the workbench.IMG_8076

Actually I find this stage fascinating. Very obsessive. One moment, everything is about bugs and catching bugs and housing bugs and identifying bugs. And then the next minute, though the bugs are not completely abandoned, we have switched to dinosaurs. If one tried to keep up by buying toys for every interest, we would be overrun. But let’s admit it, we are overrun.

My hashtag here would be: Super Attentive Parents.

And then I write a blog and remember I should be breathing.IMG_8058 IMG_8056 IMG_8051 IMG_8048 IMG_8044 IMG_8039

It’s been so dry and hot for June. I love it. This is totally my favourite weather, and the bees are thriving on it as well. I picked up a super (honey box)  yesterday to check the box below for brood (babies) and found myself in a conundrum. The box was so heavy when I lifted it down, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to lift it back up. But who was I going to ask? No one else had a bee suit. So I squatted down, and grunted and strained and managed to get the super back on the hive. There must have been 50lbs of honey in the box! We will see if August pans out, because often there is a dearth here then, but maybe this is shaping up to be a bumper-crop year!

I hope your June is shaping up well and you are remembering to breathe as you sink into summer.