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September 25, 2011

Salt Spring's Freaking Fun Fall Fair

If you've never been to the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair, it's really an event that you should schedule in for next year as a delightful way to ease into autumn if "easing in" is ever possible given that Fall descends in much the same way a logging truck bears down on a pedestrian outside a crosswalk.  The Fair takes place the third week of September each year. My Blogging schedule has gone to hell so I thought maybe I'd just give you a sense (not truly accurate but you'll get the pun-intended picture) of the past few weeks in photos. Here we go.
I really liked this sign. Whoever made it told people to "Draw Here!" and uncharacteristically, they did what they were told for once.
This is the kind of thing you'll see. Vegetables, weird characters made out of vegetables, quilts, dogs herding sheep, cotton candy, pies and baked goods, photographs, rides for kids, pies, pies, more pies made by the "pie ladies", a cornucopia of varying degrees of talented local entertainment, weaving, pottery, basketry, tractor pulls, zucchini races, horse jumping and dressage. Classic cars. Emus.  Pigs. Goats. Weird chickens and roosters. The list just goes on and on. It's wholesome country fun that you just don't get in the city; an experience that takes you back a couple of decades worth of innocence and you'd have to be evil or stupid  not to love it uttered in true islander "I'm going to give you my opinion whether you want it or not" fashion.
Somebody actually grew these. No food stylists involved.
The family that bakes weird things together must surely grow more fond of each other if you ask me.
Love watching Border Collies put these sheep in their places.
Really liked this quilt. I'm just trying to imagine who you might give it to? The father of your baby after he left you right after he found out you were pregnant? Not sure really!
My niece Shannon came from Whistler, my sister Joy (right) came from Prince George and her twin, June, arrived from Burnaby.  (Why did my parents have to name two sets of twins with matching first initials?) We had a lot of fun and I'm so glad they came.
I didn't actually grow this (No? Really?) but it was fun to pretend I did! As my friend Linda said on Facebook, "You really should see a doctor about that."
I really like this photo of my sister, June. She looks so happy.
This is Shannon trying to steal a Harley.
This is what you can do with a mother of a zucchini and too much time on your hands. Might just be a cheap Christmas gift for the horse-loving pre-teen in your family.
This is Jack Woodward. He's a Victoria lawyer and he and his wife Glenda own The Harbour House Hotel and the Organic Farm. The farm entries sweeped the blue ribbons and trophies at the fair winning the top trophy that dates back to 1954 (which isn't actually in this photo!)
People always say that gardening types are a little "different". Here's the crew that have turned the Harbour House Organic Farm into a fabulous and growing venture. They submitted 73 entries. They are the face of labour behind the 100 yard diet as they like to call it given that the organic farm is right behind the hotel.  Do you have any idea how much work that would be? I don't and hope never to find out! The head gardener, Rob, is 75 years old. He looks about 63. Amazing!
A new event called Sip & Savour happened this weekend. Friday night at The Hastings House and Saturday afternoon at the Harbour House. It was a really great event organized by the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce and brought together all manner of growers, vintners, brewers and chefs to give visitors a taste of local (including Cowichan-based) produce and culinary expertise.
This is Nate and Paul. Paul, head chef (right) led the team to win the Best Brunch in Canada Award just recently as hosted by FooddayCanada.com. Read about their creation here
This is Bruce Wood of Bruce's Kitchen. If you knew the type of hours he worked you'd be wondering if the laughter is actually hysteria resulting from exhaustion. I love this photo. I really feel like this photo captures the essence of Bruce at his best. I'm a bit biased however given that I took it. Bruce was just awarded the top prize by FoodDayCanada. Read about it here.

Finally, this is me getting some badly needed exercise. Some people (Catholics) go to confession. On Salt Spring, we prefer to climb up Mt. Erskine and confess to the fairies behind the fairy doors. It's probably just as effective really.  Afterall, if the spirit world was good enough for former Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King, it's good enough for me.

It has been a busy few weeks. But, it has been lots of laughs.

September 16, 2011

Dreaming your garden into reality

Just as when I lived in the city, I take pleasure in spending time poking around a garden centre. I like to imagine what my fantasy backyard and garden might look like if I could purchase the sleek rods of thick bamboo, serene Buddha statues, wooden repicas of Ganesha, decorative benches tucked away in corners worthy of secret sharing,  fountains in large ceramic pots with their streams of water trickling a path to peace as spectacularly as any Japanese gardener might create. I visualize what my perfect virtual garden would look like. And, that's a good thing because in reality, my own garden probably would look like hell. Just as well I have a vivid imagination.
Now, the entire exercise might seem silly. I look out on four acres of bunnies and deer and grass and apple trees. I am after all surrounded by the natural beauty of this island paradise, not to mention that I can pop down to the amazing and ever-expanding farm garden right behind the Harbour House Hotel, any time I feel like it to marvel at the spectacular uniformity of the planting by the hardworking team down there and the resultant ever changing bounty of colour and textures, earthy aromas from fruit and vegetables and sacred earth. 
But, garden centers have labels. Garden centers have candles and cute little knickknacks of bunnies and birdhouses and tropical plants and best of all they usually have something for every pocketbook. You can buy yourself or someone else a gift for just a few dollars or you can spend every pay cheque, feeding your gardening addiction.
This is FoxGlove Farm & Garden Supply on Atkins Road on the island. This absolutely stunning space was an addition that took place over the past winter. It was cleared out on this particular day because I believe that the owner's daughter had her wedding there in the previous week. What a fantastic place for a wedding. It just seems so classy and could be decorated so beautifully. I'm not sure they actually rent it out for that but it's beautiful. Okay, you get it. I REALLY like it.
In what seems a completely arbitrary and natural way, they do a good job of placing just the right things beside each other. Love the old door. Wabi Sabi at work.
I then came upon this. I love succulents. Find an old window frame minus the window. Pack it with moss and soil and somehow these little succulents clustered together like starfish on a rocky shore are transformed into a living painting. I'm sure you could even hang it up like you would a stain glass hanging.

There's nothing better for the garden than a creatively-made wooden chair. Driftwood might work. It's not because you really want to sit your butt down in 'em. They're usually God awful uncomfortable. But damn they look good. A bit like high maintenance woman when I put it that way. The kind that you could imagine floating around your garden, in between the candelabras on a starry night with a martini glass in one hand and a Cigarello in the other while the turtles watched, judgmentally from the pond.

There! Didn't I tell you? Gardens are critical for aiding and abetting your creativity, refueling imagination, and daydreaming. Time to drop in on the one in your neighborhood, even if it's your very own backyard.

September 12, 2011

Stone Solid Friendships

Just like people in the city, there are a lot of stones on the beach. Some look similar. Others you might not even notice. There's rough ones and the ones that are ultra unique or odd shaped and then there are the ones you're drawn to and just have to pick up and keep. Usually, they're smooth. The kind you need to try and see how many times you can skip. You take them home from your vacation or your short day tripping beachcombing and place them in a spot that you look at every once in a while when you're feeling a little wistful to remind you of how you felt at the beach where you found them. When you think about it, it's a lot like how you feel about your good friends.

My friends Anne and Bob are two of the smooth stones. I don't see them very much anymore but they're there and I know they're there and I'm sure they would be there if I really needed them.

I met Anne at the UBC Faculty of Education in the late 1980s. Whenever I visit I marvel at what incredible hosts they are and how much I am spoiled by their servitude. It becomes a running joke. "No, don't get up. Your our guest. We are here to serve you."  It gets a bit ridiculous. So this is what it feels like to be famous when you're not I think to myself. Do you realize that so many people in the world NEVER get such treatment.  I have always thought of them as "surrogate parents". In fact, I am lucky because I have more than a few couples in my life who treat me in a similar fashion and I always wonder what I did to deserve such a blessing.

Anne and Bob have moved quite a bit. Maybe even more than I have but I'm not sure about that. Sometimes they build a new house. Sometimes they buy an old house and fix it up. Sometimes they buy a condo. Their digs are always super nice with the highest quality finishings and I always enjoy seeing how the furniture fits into the latest residence whether it be a beach house near Pender Harbour, a farmhouse in Robert's Creek, a condo overlooking False Creek or their newest place just outside of Sechelt.
This is Anne with Charlie, the Heinz 57 master who undoubtedly requires even more attention than I do. 
This is the guest bedroom which is actually a full floor with ensuite and a living room area outside the door with a big screen TV and couches and thick rugs and nice paintings. Believe me, when you go from my humble abode to this bedroom, it feels a bit like you've become a contestant on that show America's Extreme Home Makeover. They're lucky they can pry me out at the end of the visit.

We went for a walk at Smuggler's Cove on a beautiful end of summer day.
Bob with the dogs, Buddy and Charlie.
 I liked the way the leaves looked beside the dock.
This is Smuggler's Cove
We took a break to inhale the view with their friend Patricia.

Afterwards, we went to a pub in Halfmoon Bay with a fantastic deck where we ordered Blue cheese burgers.   It's a rare event to get four people at a table all of whom are blue cheese lovers. Then, we took a stroll across a walking bridge to John Henry's Marina store where I had the biggest one scoop ice cream (with three scoops) that I have ever had. Not sure who taught them math (which is worse than mine) but  it's to their customers' advantage. Sorry no pic.

Before I popped over to Sechelt, I split up the ferry trips with a drop into Vancouver. 
Here are a few other stones on the beach that are keepers.
This photo just makes me LOL. I have no idea what THEY were laughing about.
They're pictured here seated at the bench that honours Peggy's Aunt Mary. It's at Third Beach in Stanley Park. 
We had to kick a couple of cute guys over to the next bench so we could sit on Mary's. The guy from Honduras was alot of fun when we explained why we needed to sit on this specific bench. He was fascinated with the story and had pretty decent sense of humour, especially when he found out how much it costs to purchase a bench in perpetuity in Stanley Park. It's more than a Honduran family makes in a year or 3!
Not so bad for two 50-year-old chics.