Have you heard about “The Little Town That Did?”

Do you ever read about a place that piques your interest and you hope to see it in person one day?

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My Photo Malahat Lookout(August, 2019)painnt app – Mercury

I used to read a little magazine called “Reader’s Digest” from cover to cover as a young girl.  After I moved away from home my Father bought me a subscription to this magazine.  “Reader’s Digest” was my pop culture, my humour, my miscellaneous trivia, and it contained an abundance of interesting, informative articles.

One of the articles in this magazine in the 1980’s was about a town that had recreated itself on Vancouver Island.  At that time we were living in Northern British Columbia. 

I always remembered this story and I was hoping to one day visit 

                  Chemainus, “The Little Town That Did.”

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Chemainus is in the District of North Cowichan, on the east coast of Vancouver Island. 

Lumber used to be the primary industry in this town. The lumber mill operated off and on for 120 years until the mill closed down in the early 1980’s.

As part of a revitalization project, local and international artists were commissioned to create 

                 Giant Murals on the downtown business walls showcasing the history and the culture of Chemainus. 

And like “The Little Engine That Could” written by Watty Piper, Chemainus became known as “The Little Town That Did.”

 

28 Years Ago

When we moved to “The Island” in 1991 we began exploring many areas near our home.   10 Reasons Why You Should Not Live On The Island   We camped in Strathcona Provincial Park and at Long Beach our first summer. 

We also drove to the picturesque town of Chemainus.  Many times.

We often had visitors and Chemainus did not disappoint.  It was the perfect place to explore on foot with family and friends of all ages.

 

Now, 28 years later

It occurred to me how I haven’t spent much time exploring Chemainus for many years. 

I go to Chemainus at least twice a year to see the live theatre shows with family and friends.  The performances are always excellent!  In the month of August we saw “The Magician’s Nephew” and “Mamma Mia.” 

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We drive directly to the theatre to watch the productions and then we drive home.

This year, we decided to spend the day in Chemainus.

                We decided to become a tourist again.

Chemainus has interesting galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants,  ice cream parlours and  

                 Forty-plus World Famous Giant Murals.

     

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10 Takeaways When Planning a Visit to Chemainus

1.  Leave early.

2.  Bring a camera and good walking shoes.

3.  Stop at scenic lookouts on the drive through the mountain pass called the Malahat.

 

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4.  Plan on visiting a show at the unique, intimate Chemainus Theatre.  Book early!  The shows are usually sold out well in advance.

5.  Walk into a delightful candy store.  It is a fun, colourful and sweet place to visit.  You will learn how many of the decorations and trim were hand painted.  

 

6.  Make sure to leave room for an ice cream cone.  The girls had strawberry cheesecake and cotton candy flavours.  I had a double which included three flavours.  Mine was blackberry, peanut butter chocolate and green tea (don’t judge me…….I love ice cream!)

 

7.  Enjoy the visit with children and adults young at heart.

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Sadie having fun with “Old-Timers on a Bench” (painnt app)

8.  Visit Chemainus with a dear friend.  The extra hours together, priceless!

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A dear friend of mine for over 50 years

9.  Plan to spend time strolling along the streets looking at the murals and learning about the history of Chemainus.  Pictures do not do the murals justice.   Enjoy the extensive artwork and read the stories describing the murals.

Chemainus is now a world famous tourist destination showcasing forty-plus giant murals with new murals being added.  An Outdoor Art Gallery. 

 

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10.  Drumroll please:

              Become a tourist again.   I am glad I did!

 

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Sources:

I had fun playing with painnt app (free) on a few photos.  A fun suggestion from Terri Webster Schrandt who is an amazing photographer with a very interesting blog site   Second Wind Leisure Perspectives 

Further information on Chemainus:  Chemainus     Mural Town    Weekly Wanders

North Cowichan

 

 

 

Where Are The Ruby Red Slippers?

A Situation Develops At Our House

A major crisis for 3 1/2 year old, Abby.  Therefore, it becomes a major problem for all of us.

It is 8:00 p.m.  Abby and Sadie are getting ready to go home with their Mother. 

Abby cannot find her slippers.  These are not just average slippers.  These are Abby’s favourite Ruby Red Slippers.

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Abby’s Favourite Ruby Red Slippers

Everyone is tired.  Too tired to check throughout the house looking for slippers.  We turn the house upside down anyways.

We look inside toy ovens, doll beds, lego crates, toy boxes, under pillows and in closets.  We look everywhere!   No luck.  We cannot find Abby’s slippers anywhere.

Lots of crying and then good night hugs.  The girls go home with their Mother.

During The Night

I wake up during the night with my mind racing.  I am replaying yesterday and retracing my steps.

Yesterday morning, I had loaded up the stroller and taken three grandchildren, ages one, three and five to play in a park close to our house. 

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The Usual Suspects

 

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Children of the Corn

 

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Not a drop of rain in sight.

Packing up to return home, I saw the red slippers in the bottom of the stroller.  

Or so I thought. 

Crammed in the bottom of the stroller were water bottles, snack containers, dolls, stuffys and a blanket.

It dawned on me, at first glance I could have mistaken the shiny red water bottle for the red slippers hidden in the chaos.

In The Morning

I tell my husband there is a possibility the slippers were lost somewhere at the park. The children had been playing all over the grassy field.

If by chance the shoes were discovered, they will likely have been discarded or they will have gone home with someone by now. 

My husband sees my disappointed face and he encourages us to at least take a look.  We arrive at the park and notice the newly mowed grass. Darn. The lawn mowers could have easily chewed up the slippers.

I see something red and shiny on a table at the edge of the playground.

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The Ruby Red Slippers!

 The Ruby Red Slippers!

Yay!  Tears of joy and a lump in my throat!

These little red slippers may be a minor thing in the scheme of life.

They also represent a major part of what is good in my life.  

Our 3 year old:  The smile and squeal of delight when I FaceTime with her and show her the slippers.

My husband:  How he reads the disappointment on my face and helps me hunt for little ruby red slippers.  I easily fall in love with him again.

The people in my neighbourhood:   The shoes were picked up and placed in an obvious area. Many children play in that park all day long. They had left the shoes visible for us to find.

Me:  Amidst the chaos I did remember to return home from the park with three grandchildren.

A successful day!

                              Have you ever lost something important in your life?

Postscript:  You may be wondering whether Abby left the park with shoes on.  Yes, Abby had shoes on.  That day it was her Pink Bear wearing the Ruby Red Slippers. 

 

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Grateful for all the Good in my Life!

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

Have you ever been on a Blind Date?

I was slightly nervous.  My hands were a little clammy.  I was out of my comfort zone.

I was also curious and looking forward to this Blind Date 

I have had the opportunity to meet many new people in my life.  This was different.  This was a first for me.  I was meeting someone face to face when we had only communicated in cyberspace.  

          Spoiler alert:  Donna is even nicer and more interesting In Real Life!

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Donna   Retirement Reflections  and I initially met last Fall, when I was reading anniversary stories on WordPress blogs.  I was deeply moved by her beautiful letter to her husband, a gift of words.   A Love Letter    When I found out that Donna and Richard lived on Vancouver Island, I knew we were destined to meet.  I believe that our paths were meant to cross.  I believe in synchronicity.

As many of you know, Donna and her husband Richard are preparing to hike   La Via Francigena   this Summer.   Monday nights include a two hour drive each way into Victoria to attend Italian lessons.

Donna and I had arranged to meet before the class at a restaurant called “Victoria Sushi.”  

An initial big, warm hug was followed by over an hour of non-stop talking about many topics. 

We talked about blogging in general.  Bloggers know the challenges of writing, editing, revising and critiques.  We know the feeling of vulnerability when we share our stories.  

We shared personal stories.  Donna has led a varied and interesting life with adventures in many exotic locations. I always look forward to opening my inbox and reading Donna’s stories. They make me laugh.   Bear Attack!!    They inspire me to be a better person and a better writer.

Early on I recognized Donna’s warmth, kindness, intelligence and wit through her posts and her comments. Donna has a supportive and kind comment for everyone.  She has a gift for recognizing and validating the core message and underlying emotions in a story.

I know that Donna has a large following of bloggers that admire and respect her.  I am one of the lucky few that have had the privilege of meeting Donna In Real Life.

 I had the opportunity to see her face light up when she talks about her family.  I saw how she smiled at Richard when he entered the room.  I can see why they will be celebrating their twentieth anniversary next year.

 

 

 

I enjoy this positive corner of the internet.  I have met many like-minded individuals.  I have also met people with diverse interests and different perspectives. You have enriched my life on many levels.  I live vicariously through your adventures and photos.  You make me laugh. You inspire me with your stories, your writing, your wisdom. 

I have also made friends along the way.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you go on a Blind Date with a fellow blogger.  You will not regret it.  

Especially when you meet someone as genuine and kind as Donna.

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Postscript:   “Outtakes” 

I always have a lot of material to condense when I write. Since I enjoy watching outtakes, I decided to add a few notes.  aka “my inside voice 

  • Donna sent me links to past meet ups with fellow bloggers.  In the photos I see bottles of wine on the table and glowing cheeks on the bloggers.  Thank goodness for Marty’s timely wine post.   Snakes in the Grass   We can stay within a budget. fullsizeoutput_7768
  • Do I warn my husband about my computer history?  I did research “blind dates” and “what are the ten best dating sites in Canada?”
  • Re: IRL.  Susan’s   Swooning Grace   comment on Donna’s Retirement Reflections blog  made me smile. “Is IRL a secret code word among bloggers? ha ha.”  I am naive about the blogosphere, too.  I saw IRL a few times before I figured out the meaning.  Susan, you also made me cry on the same day you made me smile.  I read your beautiful post,   Tribute to a Father
  • In the age of Marvel comics and superheroes, Kindness is a quality that supersedes all of the other powers.  Thank you Donna, and all of the bloggers that continue to make this community fun. 

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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