July 2013

Monthly Archive

Visiting Friends: A Weekend of Fun

Posted by on 25 Jul 2013 | Tagged as: Art Museums and Galleries, British Columbia, friends, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized, Vacations

Last Thursday, Mother and I drove up to Port Angeles (again) and took the MV Coho of the Black Ball Line to Victoria (again) and began a short excursion that included Salt Spring Island (again) and Courtenay/Comox (again) and the Saanich peninsula (again). It’s something we enjoy, places that are beautiful, laid-back, filled with kind people and wonderful friends.

And I needed it. I need a little space to just relax and enjoy, to be myself and not have to worry about “everything” for a while.

It worked. Here in a nutshell is the trip we took, that encompasses shopping at Mouat’s in Ganges on Salt Spring Island, taking ferries between islands and peninsulas, walking in gardens, vistas off mountains (no pictures of that one, sorry) and amazing indigenous arts. If you have a chance to stop in Duncan, B.C. and take the tour of their totem poles (most of which were carved by native carvers just for this purpose!), do. It is full of insights into the history and life of the Cowichan and other local tribes.

Apple tree, floral borders, mixed plantings, all give interest and movement to the garden at the Filberg in Comox, B.C.

Apple tree, floral borders, mixed plantings, all give interest and movement to the garden at the Filberg in Comox, B.C.

Masses of impatiens in the borders at the Filberg gardens.

Masses of impatiens in the borders at the Filberg gardens.

Looking down the long pergola, covered with old (and productive) grapes.

Looking down the long pergola, covered with old (and productive) grapes.

The broken-tile floor of the kitchen in the Filberg house in Comox, B.C.  It shows an economical and whimsical way to introduce movement and color (and the slight variations in depth make the floor more comfortable for standing).

The broken-tile floor of the kitchen in the Filberg house in Comox, B.C. It shows an economical and whimsical way to introduce movement and color (and the slight variations in depth make the floor more comfortable for standing).

The occasional tile has a bit of pattern, to add even more interest.  Filberg kitchen.

The occasional tile has a bit of pattern, to add even more interest. Filberg kitchen.

The sign at the new and lovely Salt Spring Island public library; and Mother, for scale.

The sign at the new and lovely Salt Spring Island public library; and Mother, for scale.

The definitive text on breeding Great Danes, by Jill Evans, now living on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia..  Found on the shelves at the SSI public library.  Upside down on purpose!

The definitive text on breeding Great Danes, by Jill Evans, now living on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.. Found on the shelves at the SSI public library. Upside down on purpose!

The visitor center at Cumberland, south of Courtenay and Comox on Vancouver Island.  Notice the replica canoe in the artificial pond, which provides some cooling and natural humidity to the center.  The center is LEED certified with radiant floors, some natural ventilation through a crawl space under the museum section, and natural light.  I won't have the crawl-space cooling (and with the shade our home receives probably won't miss it), but my house is going to be SO comfortable!

The visitor center at Cumberland, south of Courtenay and Comox on Vancouver Island. Notice the replica canoe in the artificial pond, which provides some cooling and natural humidity to the center. The center is LEED certified with radiant floors, some natural ventilation through a crawl space under the museum section, and natural light. I won’t have the crawl-space cooling (and with the shade our home receives probably won’t miss it), but my house is going to be SO comfortable!

Dinner guests in Courtenay...

Dinner guests in Courtenay…

Mother, holding a copy of Hetty Clew's book, "The Only Teller" at the SSI public library.  Hetty used to live on the island, and was a strong supporter of both the library and the arts.  We miss her.

Mother, holding a copy of Hetty Clew’s book, “The Only Teller” at the SSI public library. Hetty used to live on the island, and was a strong supporter of both the library and the arts. We miss her.

Interesting four-color Italianate house in Victoria.  LOVE the use of blue for accent against the caramel-chocolate-cream base!

Interesting four-color Italianate house in Victoria. LOVE the use of blue for accent against the caramel-chocolate-cream base!

Mother in front of the beautifully restored "painted lady" across from the James Bay Inn on Government Street in Victoria.  The sun was bright!

Mother in front of the beautifully restored “painted lady” across from the James Bay Inn on Government Street in Victoria. The sun was bright!

Coming home - the United States seen through a rising fog that enveloped us and kept us in suspense about 20 minute out from Victoria until just after we passed the breakwater at Port Angeles.

Coming home – the United States seen through a rising fog that enveloped us and kept us in suspense about 20 minute out from Victoria until just after we passed the breakwater at Port Angeles.

There will be more pictures, but right now I need to sleep… seems every time I sit down to write, I get distracted by “real life!”

Go figure.

Stepping Forward, Stepping Back: The dance of change

Posted by on 11 Jul 2013 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, hope, house building, housefire, Learning Styles, musings, teaching, Uncategorized

In the wake of the fire, Tom and I are still working on finding equilibrium. The size of the apartment, the distance from my gardens, the lack of comfortable space and privacy, the noises of the city — and our neighbors — all conspire against the comfortable routines and patterns we used to have. He continues to focus on his work though without the long drive or the need to get up early to help Grant go to zero hour he has a lot more time on his hands. I focus on trying to make sense of the house plans and what we need to look at and learn about the systems and design decisions, and wish I had teaching to help me focus my energies on things other than our situation. We no longer need to think about or worry much about what Grant is up to — he will be a senior in high school and a college freshman this coming year, so he makes most of his own scheduling and activity decisions. We no longer have much to do in the yard, the garden; I have no real space to “do art”… and with our free time we aren’t yet settled in to expectations. And there are moments of extreme activity around house decisions, cleaning up items we salvaged and maintaining the apartment, followed by times when we are adrift.

It seems that some (most?) days we are caught up in a tango — step this way slowly, that way quickly, spin, reverse, proceed. Not necessarily in that order. We are stumbling along, trying to match our moves to the wild and varied rhythms of the band. It’s a metaphor that rings true, particularly since I never mastered the tango, and as far as I know Tom hasn’t ever learned the basic steps. Our lives right now are pretty clumsy. Our communication is rudimentary, and so we lack coordination of effort and focus. When dancing, once the basic pattern is mastered, there are logical sequences of steps and moves that follow; all in time to the music. In life, it is rarely that smooth; right now it is as disjointed as dancing the tango to a jitterbug tune.

One of the ideas that was prevalent in the teaching program was that learning is hard work. That what you thought you knew is challenged with each new fact, process or idea. The “newness” of the learning not only makes the current tasks difficult, it muddles the previously mastered tasks and renders any fluency, any panache, impossible. The learner stumbles, and sometimes fails outright.

Although I was once an admin assistant (and a pretty good one), all my training went by the wayside as an onslaught of emotions, immediate needs and demands from many quarters descended. Paperwork was misplaced or outright lost. Deadlines were missed. Opportunities overlooked. The many people we were supposed to talk to and work with, the coordination of who to talk to (and when) and who else needs the same information… It was too much, too fast, too overwhelming.

Stumbling. It all gets sorted out eventually, I suppose, but we are definitely not there yet.

Today, a moment of rest between sets. The band is silent, at least for the time being. The furniture is in the apartment and set up. Once the recycling truck takes the bins away, I can move some of the packing materials out of the office. I will put the cardboard in my van and take it to the house today, store it in the carport and use it in a little bit to make barriers around plants and along paths. I will have coffee with mother, lunch with a friend, a visit with another friend…

Tom will go to work, come home in the evening. We will have supper, watch some television. He will play some video games or work on his computer, and I will play my online game and interrupt him periodically with comments or thoughts that pop into my head.

In the background, we will be thinking about the next steps. Do we push for the contractor to move ahead, call the bank about the appraiser’s decision, work on making lists of items that we need to start looking for on sale so we can be ready with everything once the house is done?

What is happening with the music? Was that one beat, or two? Which direction should we move to keep from crashing into other dancers on the floor? Oops, sorry, that was your foot, wasn’t it?

What’s left, and moving ahead

Posted by on 08 Jul 2013 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, hope, housefire, Uncategorized

The house is gone, the land is bare, but enough remains that we can see where we have been. And there is “just enough” of a hint of where we may eventually end up. Here are a few pics, and apologies to my friends who were looking for these two days ago — my energy levels and time haven’t exactly been coinciding recently.

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