10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Live On “The Island”

 

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Botanical Beach

1.  You will waste your precious time spending hours walking on beaches and checking out tidal pools.

 

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Botanical Beach

2.  You will have to put up with fresh, clean air and a constant breeze.

3.  People are very neighbourly and approachable here.  Expect a friendly wave with the obligatory friendly wave in return. You will have to constantly say “hi,” a tiresome custom.

4.  You will have to tolerate views of lakes and the ocean as far as the eye can see.    

 

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Cowichan Lake – photo credit Alisha (my daughter)

 

5.  Camping outdoors on “The Island” will mean almost no bugs.  You will not have the pleasure of swatting, swelling, investing in bug repellent and Afterbite.

 

 

 

6.  You will have to get accustomed to the colour green.  Moss, ferns and diverse, spectacular trees are found in our forests.

 

 

 

 

 

7.  You will take too many photos and have the challenge of selecting only a few favourite ones.  One of the pictures below is an often photographed little bonsai conifer growing out of an old mossy stump.

This Fairy Lake tree became famous when Adam Gibb’s photo was selected as one of the 100 winning images from 48,000 global submissions for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012.  Adam Gibb’s photo     

        

 

 

8.  Hiking with friends will consume a great deal of your time.  You will never run out of places to explore.  Decisions.  Decisions.  

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9.  You will want to avoid the Malahat at the end of a long weekend in the Summer.  Taking the  Pacific Marine Circle Route   home will add stress to your day.

You will have to drive an extra hour through a beautiful rain forest, gaze at stunning scenery and endure minimal traffic. 

The extra one hour drive may turn into four hours because you will want to stop and explore the beautiful sites along this route. You may possibly include a leisurely lunch in the picturesque town of Port Renfrew.  

An entirely wasted day! (in Paradise)

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10.  And most importantly, why you should NOT live on “The Island?” 

                                       Will you be able to keep “Vancouver Island” our little secret?

                                               I think not.  Especially when you call it “home.”

 

Dedicated to:  All the visitors that come to “The Island” each year.  The people that make “The Island” their home.  And to Deb,  Widow Badass Blog  who has discovered  our little secret.”

                          

Do You Believe A Person’s Energy Can Be Attached To An Object?

A friend shows me her Grandmother’s ring on her finger.  She is emotional and very moved telling me how much this ring means to her, how much her Grandmother meant to her.

Another friend shows me the ceramic bowls she created in her first few pottery classes.  She describes preparing and centering the clay.  She explains how this challenging process requires stillness, concentration, calm perseverance and becoming one with the clay.

Our three year old granddaughter brings me artwork she has created along with an elaborate description of the shapes and colours.  Her unfiltered pride is evident in her smile when I display her painting on the refrigerator.

             Are objects simply inanimate materials? 

Is an heirloom handed down from past generations only symbolic of a special relationship? 

Does artwork merely showcase the craftsman’s talent and skills?  

Or is there an essence, an energy present that animates these physical materials?

 

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Maori Art

I had not really thought about these concepts until I began to learn more about the Maori culture.

We were surrounded by many art forms visiting New Zealand this year.  The Maori believe art is an expression of the life force, the energy within you.

They believe that a physical object, a Mauri, contains a vitality, an essence.

Maori art conveys spiritual information, ancestry and culturally important topics.

           The Maori believe that the gods create and communicate through the master craftsmen.

 

 

 

We had the opportunity to visit Te Puia in Rotorua this year. Te Puia is home to the “New Zealand Maori Arts  and Crafts Institute.”  

 

 

Today artists learn through classes and much practise.  The styles vary from region to region.

Traditional Maori art was created using the materials available at the time, such as wood, bone, pounamu (jade or greenstone), paua (abalone) shell, flax, and feathers.  Many artists continue to use these natural, organic materials today.

 

 

What do I think?  Do I believe a person’s energy can be attached to an object?

Entire fields of science and pseudoscience are dedicated to the concept of objects and energy.  I went down the “crystals” rabbit hole when reading about this subject.  Possibly a future story.

I had not given this topic much thought until we were exploring New Zealand and learning about the Maori culture.  I respect the Wisdom of the Ages. I try to keep my mind open to new ideas and possibilities.

I find I appreciate art more when I learn about the history and cultural significance of an item.

The Maori traditions have helped me recognize the spiritual connections we have with our environment and the emotional connections we have with our ancestors. 

The effort and meticulous care taken during the creative process is an expression of our inner selves, our essence.

Are materials infused with love and energy during the creative process?

                Is this life force passed on to the artifact?   

I do believe it is.  When I learn about the traditions, the history and the spiritual significance

                The artwork takes on a life of its own.

 

What do you believe?

 

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Weblinks:  Mauri      New Zealand Art     Maori Arts and Crafts

Maori Tradition    Maori Culture

 

 

 

 

Unusual activity for an erupting Geyser! How far away should I stand?

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I have a great respect for the incredible forces that shape our planet Earth.

Living on Vancouver Island, we are prepared (somewhat) for “the big one.” 

Most of the time, I try not to think about it.

It was difficult to not think about it when we were exploring around Rotorua in the North island of New Zealand.  The geothermal forces were evident all around us.

We were visiting two specific areas:  Te Puia is a large geothermal reserve and contains an eco-cultural centre.  Wai-O-Tapu is a scenic reserve with the largest area of surface thermal activity within the Taupo Volcanic Zone. More on Wai-O-Tapu in a future post.  

We spent the first two hours at Te Puia with a guide, learning more about the Maori culture, history, vegetation and geothermal formations in the surrounding area.

The Te Puia area contains many hot, steaming, bubbling mud pools, pools of boiling water. The depth and appearance of these pools can vary depending on the amount of rain and how often and how long the geysers erupt.

 

Our guide informed us that increased activity in this geothermal reserve often means that other areas on our planet are experiencing changes to the Earth’s surface.  An example he gave us is a tsunami or an earthquake.                      

Interesting and scary!

The Te Puia reserve contains inactive and active geysers. The Pohutu Geyser is the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere.  She (the brochure calls it “she”) erupts once or twice each hour and can reach heights of thirty metres.

We visited the geysers in Iceland last year.  The name “geysir” originated in Iceland.  The Te Puia area had similarities to the Iceland geothermal areas yet also appeared very different.  

 

Iceland 2017:  Strokkur Geysir & Hverir

The Earth’s crust is very thin in both areas.  Our friendly, knowledgeable, very large, robust guide stomped on this thin crust to allow us to hear the hollow sound.  A description would have sufficed.

 I don’t think a demonstration was necessary.  

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At approximately 3:30pm many of the visitors had left.  A few people decided to wait for the next eruption and potential photo opportunities.  After 45 minutes, some of the smaller geysers in the area showed increased activity.

A rumbling noise began.

Then the Pohutu geyser began to erupt. 

 

We expected to watch it erupt for about two minutes, and half an hour later it continued to erupt and increase in height.  This created waterfalls coming down from the rock area.  An hour ago there were no waterfalls in this area. 

I didn’t feel confident staying close by, especially after all of the information from our guide.  There was a hotel nearby that had been recently closed due to geothermal activity on the site. Te Puia (weblink)

The ground beneath the building was unable to support it.

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I left and walked about one kilometre back to the entrance of this geothermal reserve.

              If any significant events occurred in this area, would one kilometre make a difference? 

The staff at the entrance reassured me that length, height, and time between geyser eruptions vary a great deal. 

               I didn’t see any of the staff hanging out at the Pohutu Geyser right now.

I have a lot of respect for the natural forces on our Planet Earth.  I am very aware that geothermal effects, earthquakes, tsunamis are beyond my control.

Unusual and increased activity may occur near an erupting geyser.  The thin crust of the Earth may not be able to support my weight.

If I am nearby, I plan to distance myself at least one kilometre away.  I may be safer.

                At least in my mind.

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 “Safe and Sound” back at the entrance

How has Bikram Hot Yoga changed my life? — Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

 

I had the privilege of being asked to write a story on “What makes me thrive over 50.”  It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the life lessons I have learned on the yoga mat.  What makes you “thrive and feel truly alive?” 

via How has Bikram Hot Yoga changed my life? — Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

How do you teach children about death?

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Part one – January 23, 2018

Coincidence?

This afternoon, sad, teary-eyed Sadie shared with me that her fish had died.  She had this fish since she was born. 

Children often bring up topics when you are unprepared and you least expect it.  I looked at it as an opportunity to discuss death with a four year old.  

“Everyone and every living thing dies.  It is normal to feel sad.  Love for each other never dies.  Memories live on.  It is good to share your feelings.”  The usual things we say.

Questions from Sadie included:  “Was her fish in outer space?  Was my Dad in outer space?”  She was aware that my Dad had died many years ago.  

I told Sadie that I really wasn’t sure where her fish is and where my Dad is. We talked about heaven.

Sadie wanted to see pictures of my Dad.  I opened up the file on my computer from my last visit with my Dad.  My Dad was very compromised, elderly and in ill health.

Sadie noticed the Christmas decorations in the background.  She asked whether he had died at Christmas.  I told her, no.  Some time in January.

The hair rose on my arms.

I hunted down his memorial script.  May 4, 1929 – January 23, 2007.

A sob escapes my throat.

Coincidence?

 

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Part two – May 4, 2019

Sadie is now five years old.  One year older and one year wiser.

After a long, fun-filled day,  we were waiting for Sadie’s Mom to arrive to take her home.

                    This time I received an extra long hug.  She wouldn’t let go.

Then she said “I don’t want to forget you.  I looked at her and she had tears in her eyes.

I paused.  Where did this come from?  Does she know something I don’t know?

I was taken aback.  I didn’t have time to prepare an answer.  I said what I think are appropriate things to say to a five year old.  “You won’t forget me.  I will never forget you.  You will always be in my heart.”  I was a little emotional, too, although I tried my best to hide these feelings.

I get it.  I also don’t want to forget.

Memories surface around special holidays.  This year my Dad would have turned 90 years old on his birthday.

A few of my memories: 

  • I remember how birthdays were always a big deal in our house.  We always celebrated with a Black Forest Cake.
  • I remember how my Dad valued an education. On a very limited income,  he purchased the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica.  We would actually read these books on a daily basis. 
  • I remember how he was a gadget person.  The latest knives, blenders, recording devices, projectors, movie cameras.  We also had the first black and white tv on the block.
  • I still get misty-eyed when I hear a song from the Sound of Music, the first movie I saw with my Dad.
  • Most of all I remember the family values my Dad instilled in all of his children.  To him, love was a verb.  He showed us every day how much he cared about us. He loved children and unfortunately he did not have a chance to meet his amazing great grandchildren. 

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Memories can fade.  We will forget details about our loved ones, especially grandparents that may have left us many years ago.  We may have only a hazy recollection of events.

Sadie had questions about death and about my Dad in Part 1 of this story. 

How do we teach children about death?

When we have the privilege of spending time with children, we quickly realize that we will learn far more from children than they will learn from us.

Sadie taught me that it is okay to ask the hard questions. It is okay to love someone and be afraid of losing them.  It is okay to have tears in your eyes.

Sadie taught me that sometimes the only answer you really want is a very long hug and not let go.

Epilogue

A few weeks ago I was making some notes outside the yoga studio, waiting for my class to begin.  I was debating on whether I would write and share this story.  I walked into the studio and I met a friend who was telling me about her upcoming birthday plans.  I asked her what day is her birthday?  She said, May 4th.

Today would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday, May 4th.

Coincidence?

 

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What do you do when you love Mussels as much as I do?

 

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You visit Havelock, New Zealand, the Green-lipped Mussel capital of the world. Definitely one of our favourite days exploring NZ!

This area is in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds region on the South Island of NZ.

 

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We left early on the Pelorus Mail Boat out of the town of Havelock.   This boat delivers mail, supplies and people to remote coastal areas.  There are no roads, ferries or cruise ships.

Living out west on Vancouver Island, we have had the opportunity to spend the day on mail boats.  It is a nice way to let someone else do the navigating and spend a relaxing day enjoying the scenery.  We were looking forward to a break from driving the challenging NZ roads.

 

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It was a gorgeous day, some areas calm, some windy with stunning scenery in every direction.

 

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The captain and guide were very kind, fun and knowledgeable about the history and wildlife in this area. 

The Green-lipped Mussels are endemic to NZ.  The name comes from the distinct emerald green colour of the shell.  They are sometimes called Green Shelled Mussels or NZ Mussels.  They may have anti-inflammatory health benefits for some people. (weblink)

We saw many mussel farms in the inlets of Marlborough Sounds.  Up until now, I have enjoyed eating mussels, although, I had no idea how mussels grow in the coastal waters.

 

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Spat (juvenile mussels) are collected, where they wash up attached to clumps of seaweed.   Spat arrive at a mussel farm and are transferred to ropes in seawater until about 6 months of age.  They are removed and then reseeded onto long stretches of rope, and grown for another 9 to 12 months.  They are then harvested. 

Most aspects of farmed and wild mussels are identical. The mussel farms are located in the same areas where wild mussels thrive.  Mussels require sheltered areas. There are over 600 mussel farms in NZ and they cover thousands of hectares of marine space. (weblink) (link)

We saw some boats go by carrying huge white bags.  Each of these bags contain over a ton of mussels.  These boats were obviously very low in the water.

 

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We stopped at a remote lodge for lunch.  Of course, we ordered the mussels. 

I bit down on a mussel to the sound of a crunch.  Was it a piece of shell or my tooth?  Hiding underneath the mussel was a pea-sized crab.  More on this later in a future story.

 

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We stopped for a hike on a secluded beach.  The only access to this area is by boat or helicopter.

 

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We came across colonies of beautiful, big seabirds called Gannets.

 

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We were introduced to a huge insect endemic to New Zealand called a Giant Weta.  It is described as a relatively harmless insect.  Only a few of them bite.  I didn’t know which side of the fence this Weta belonged, the biting or the nonbiting side.  And using the term “relatively harmless” does not make me feel better. 

 

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A highlight towards the end of the day was to have a large school of Bottlenose dolphins swim around us.  Even, Trish, the guide became very emotional. Although she travels these inlets every day,  she had never seen this many dolphins stay as long to play. 

 

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We have been surrounded by breathtaking scenery and incredible natural beauty in NZ.  Every day has been an adventure.  We have learned about the history of the Islands.  We have been fortunate to witness the diverse marine life and wildlife native to this country.

Exploring the Marlborough Sounds region on the Pelorus mail boat was definitely a highlight for us. It was one of our best days in New Zealand!

 

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And what will I continue to order for my favourite meal?  Mussels, of course!

 

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How much do you rely on Wifi, the Internet, Google?

 

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No wifi again.  This time for 5 days. 

The past few weeks in New Zealand have been filled with amazing adventures, exploring and long road trips.

 It was now getting to the end of our trip.  We arrived at Cook’s Lookout Motel, Paihia, an area called the Bay of Islands, the very north part of the North Island.

 

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The information about this motel had indicated access to wifi.  I had planned a couple of days of catching up.  Messenger and FaceTime with the family.  Surfing the internet.  I wanted to read the blogs I follow.  I was planning to research some information to add to my stories. 

The owner of the motel had a complicated story about major wifi glitches in this area the past few weeks.  No wifi for guests right now.

It was slightly disappointing.   Although, not unexpected.

Over the last two months in New Zealand we often have had minimal or no access to wifi.  Sometimes, we were allowed only 100mb of use. 

 

I really didn’t know how much I rely on the internet until it was no longer available:

  • Researching my husband’s spider bite:  symptoms;  should he see a doctor?
  • The weather forecast each day
  • Sending birthday wishes to friends and family
  • Is the Giant Weta harmful?
  • Names of bird species we encounter
  • Booking excursions
  • Opening times of attractions
  • Prices
  • Restaurant open/close times
  • Restaurant menus
  • Checking emails
  • Confirming our flights
  • World news
  • Who won best actor category at the Oscars?
  • What would you add to the list?

 

Version 2Giant Weta – “New Zealand’s most recognizable creepy-crawlies”   weblink 

 

Version 2Kea – species of large parrot found in the forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand  weblink

 

What did I do without wifi for 5 days?

  • I finished reading books I had started at the beginning of this trip.
  • I went swimming.
  • I did more tramping (New Zealand’s word for hiking).
  • I wrote stories.
  • I took photos.
  • I watched the sunrise and sunset.
  • I sat outside, breathing in the fresh sea air, truly enjoying the scenery.

 

 

Version 290 mile beach – North Island, New Zealand

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Do I miss not having wifi?

We have gone camping in areas on the west coast of BC and in the Yukon where we were truly unplugged.  I plan for it, and I actually look forward to the respite from the online world.

 

Version 3Long Beach – Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada

 

My stress level and angst significantly decline when I am oblivious to the daily news, fake and otherwise.

Wifi affects almost every part of our lives now.  It is how we communicate, surf for information and often do our shopping and our banking.  Our entire vacation was researched, planned and booked using the internet.

 

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I did not miss access to wifi while we were on the Bay of Islands.

We were there for only five days.

The first thing I did when I arrived home?

I plugged in my computer. 

 

Postscript:  I wrote this story about one week ago while we were still in New Zealand.  We experienced a wonderful, life-changing adventure.  Everywhere we went we met kind, thoughtful New Zealanders.  I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Christ Church this week.  My heart goes out to the victims, the victim’s families and all of New Zealand. Unfortunately, this is not fake news.