Posted by: Kate | October 7, 2015

Fall Sunshine

I love it when the island gets the early fall sunshine. We don’t always, so it is a treat when we do. Late afternoon walks are taken where there is maximum sun exposure – the Seawalk being the best place of all.

oct 4 seawalk1

oct 4 seawalk2

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I can’t say it enough – I get to live here. This place of beauty and wonder, that I know people dream of visiting. This is the landscape of my home and as such is imprinted on my heart and hardwired into my very being. The ocean, the mountains, the beaches – they are a part of me on the deepest level.

Posted by: Kate | October 2, 2015

Friday Quote

(I’m reviving a couple of regular blog features I’ve had in the past: Friday Quotes and Feature Photos.)

It is after all so easy to shatter a story. To break a chain of thought. To ruin a fragment of a dream being carried around carefully like a piece of porcelain.

To let it be, to travel with it, as Velutha did, is much the harder thing to do.

                          ~”The God of Small Things” Arundhati Roy

I love the contrast of fragility and inner strength in this quote. It speaks to that inner spark and dream so many of us carry as children that so easily gets snuffed out. The strength of character it takes to hold it close and not let it be extinguished – that is determination. At the same time, it is also the stubbornness of seeing something the way you want to, not the way others say you should. Maybe healthy, maybe not. Fragility, or strength?

Posted by: Kate | September 27, 2015

Book Review: The Virgin Cure

When I read Ami Mckay‘s The Birth House, I knew the voice of this author intrigued me. So I purchased her book The Virgin Cure for my Kobo.

The story takes place in Manhattan in the late 1800s. It is a story of a girl living a desperate life, and the people she interacts with along the way. Part social commentary, part personal history, the story manages to draw the reader in even as the reader is  saddened and turned off by the incidents portrayed.

“I am Moth, a girl from the west part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart.”

The development of the character is slow and steady, happening as Moth discovers how to cope with both where she came from and where she wants to go. Add in the colour and mayhem of Manhattan in the 1800s, with a woman doctor fighting for the rights of used girls, a freak show and some madams thrown in, and the story takes you on a seedy yet ultimately uplifting story.

It all comes back to Moth and her journey, told both through her eyes and through the eyes of a woman doctor who befriends her. Having the two points of view is intriguing, as one can see that growth happens for both of the characters, as they interact.

Ami McKay’s writing, in both the books I have read, is filled with a quiet certainty and weight. She takes care with her words and shapes her sentences in a way that creates natural pauses for contemplation as one is reading. Her turns of phrase are haunting at times, poignant and vibrant and very visual.

“‘Yes Ma’am,’ I said, stacking yet another lie, neat and close to the rest, like sticks bundled for burning.”

There was only one down side to this book, and that was that I read it on the Kobo. This was the first time I have wished I had the paper book in hand, and it was at times frustrating. Throughout the book there are newspaper clippings which weave stories from 1800s Manhattan into the narrative of the novel. However on the ereader these clippings were too narrow and small to read easily and so they interrupted the story for me. My guess is that in the paper book this would not have been the case. A small detail, but with a novel like this I think an important one.

Posted by: Kate | September 12, 2015

September Fruit

Pears and apples are the fruits of September. Our apple tree did not produce a large crop this year, so we are just eating right off the tree rather than preserving them in any way. They are big, juicy and crisp!

We don’t have a pear tree but I have a couple of sources. Last week-end I made pear sauce and this week-end it will be pear butter. The only real difference is the thickness, the pear butter needs more time to cook down than the sauce.  I love pear sauce in my oatmeal, and pear butter is delicious on English muffins!

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Posted by: Kate | September 7, 2015

Well Hello September

Summer seems to have ended rather abruptly for the island this year. It’s quite possible of course that things will straighten out and we’ll have a typical, beautiful September. But right now it has been a week of rain, cloud and cool temperatures. Quite the shock to adjust to after months of dry weather!

In some ways it’s kind of nice. We got out in the garden this week-end for the first time in ages, as it was cool enough to work. And we took Chika down to the beach and didn’t have to worry about the hot rocks burning his paws.

chika beach sept

September has always been one of my favourite months, all the back to school beginnings and cooler evenings make me feel more alive and active than the hot summer days.

Bushboy starts Grade 10 this week (yup, I said Grade 10). That’s a bit of an adjustment for all of us, realizing that the years that count are here and now when it comes to preparing for ‘after school’. I think we are all wondering what this year will bring.

Happy September!

Posted by: Kate | August 31, 2015

Summer of Patience

This is a place for honesty. I don’t want people to see my blog and think I’m a Pollyanna or some perpetually happy-go-lucky woman. Life is real, and sometimes difficult and sometimes frustrating. (But, I am a count my blessings kind of woman, and I freely admit it. It’s hard to really get me down.)

I have been having back issues for a number of years now, including on and off sciatica nerve discomfort. This spring, while trying to garden, my back and sciatica were bothering me enough to go ask my doctor for advice. After talking to me about the sciatic pain he ordered a CAT scan.

Meanwhile, summer moved on and in early July I wrenched my back lifting groceries out of the car. A little thing, but lately that’s all it seems to take to really make my back hurt. We did the road trip with me in a lot of discomfort with sciatic nerve pain (didn’t detract from the amazing trip, but was a frustration for sure). I had my CAT scan in mid August and saw the doctor today.

Apparently, I’ve got some serious damage. I was hoping he’d say physio or massage therapy, but he said he was shocked at the extent of the scarring. So next up is a specialist. My doctor is strongly recommending surgery.

Pain tolerance seems to be such a personal thing. My doctor said he was surprised at the extent of the damage because I wasn’t presenting with the pain he would have expected. I have pain, just don’t see the point in dwelling on it or describing it in detail. Spend more than a day with me and you’ll know from watching me that I’m in discomfort. Mr. Kate thinks because of my chronic bladder disease I likely already have a higher pain threshold than some people, and I do think it gives me the patience to cope with the pain.

So my summer has been one of patience. I haven’t swum in the ocean or any lakes – a first for me. The pain is actually worse in the water and so I haven’t wanted to risk it. I haven’t gardened as bending to weed or prune puts too much pressure on my lower back. I’ve read. A lot.

But, the summer has been beautiful and I have appreciated it all the same. I don’t think of myself as an optimist, but I do prefer to see the beauty in the world than dwell on the negative. Life is too short to let it get me down, and I’m having too much fun in so many ways.


A quick trip to Rathtrevor Beach a couple of weeks ago, to reconnect with old friends, was a great summer treat.

Posted by: Kate | August 25, 2015


This year has been so out of time when it comes to ripening fruit. Unfortunately I missed most of the blackberries while we were away, and I also missed the blueberries, as they were about a month early and finished the week-end we returned home at the local U-picks. This week however peaches were on sale, and I had managed to freeze a small bag of blackberries and had the raspberries I picked at the beginning of the summer at a local U-pick. So this past week-end was jam time!


The short jars (we call them salmon jars around here as they are most commonly used for canned salmon, but I realize elsewhere may not call them that) have raspberry peach jam in them. Heavy on the raspberry.


The skinny jars are blackberry peach, or more honestly peach blackberry. You can taste the blackberries but the jam is peach sweet for sure.

I was happy to get the jam made, as I really don’t like having to buy jam!

How about you, any jamming in your kitchen this year?

Posted by: Kate | August 18, 2015

Book Review: Delicious

I freely admit that I love a book written by a top-notch journalist. Ruth Reichl has a long history of food writing and has also written a number of non-fiction books to great critical acclaim. Delicious is her first foray into the world of fiction, and I welcome her voice.

Part mystery, part coming of age, part food celebration, Delicious brings the story of one young woman in New York to life. The reader is plunged into the middle of Billie’s story, knowing only that things have happened to make her turn left instead of continuing on a chosen path. As the story fills out, we learn more of why Billie has taken the turn. Reichl cleverly allows the reader to see what Billie cannot, which allows us to cheer for her character and want to encourage her through the story.

Reichl writes with passion, and fills not only the food aspects of the story but her characters and the places they occupy with passion as well. Her descriptions are lush yet clear, pulling you easily into the world she has created of food and eccentricity and publishing. Her main character, Billie, is a beautiful mix of self-doubt and sadness. Her journey through the story is one of growth and self-discovery. Reichl also fills the story with a cast of supporting characters who are just as complex and intriguing as Billie herself, weaving the stories together seamlessly so that it creates one main event that is easy to follow as it flows around Billie.

The story unfolds not only around Billie’s growth but also around a mystery Billie uncovers. Through hidden letters, Billie discovers someone else’s life and in the process begins to connect with the people around her in a different way. Watching Billie unravel both the mystery and face her own challenges provided great pace to the story.

Filled with amazing food references, great characters and even a love interest, Delicious is a story that will appeal to many readers. But it is the excellent, solid writing and story-telling that makes it a book worth reading and passing along.

Posted by: Kate | August 13, 2015

Being Welcomed Home

We arrived back in Canada the night of the August long week-end. Lined up at the ferry for hours, not sure if we were going to be on the 8:45pm or the 10:45pm sailing, but luckily made it on to the 8:45 sailing as one of the last five cars. We were tired and ready to head home, just chilling out on the observation deck. But then, the coast decided to welcome us home in true BC style, SuperNatural.

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The sun setting over Vancouver Island as we headed west was spectacular. Then the First Mate mentioned that people should look back towards Vancouver.

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It was a blue moon (second full moon of the month) and so stunning with Mt. Baker in the background.

I love coming home.

Posted by: Kate | August 8, 2015

Canadian vs. American – It’s the Little Things

North America is a pretty unified continent. Here in Canada we watch 90% US television and movies, our bestsellers are generally the same, we eat mostly the same foods, listen to pretty much the same music, eat at most of the same fast food restaurants. Although as Canadians we like to think of ourselves as really different, if you travel around the world it is hard for most people to move beyond the stereotypes to tell you how those differences exist.

After traveling through 7 states, I have determined it is the little things that make the difference. Here are four, in no particular order.

How we measure. The US is on the imperial system, while here in Canada we are on the metric system. This makes figuring out the true cost of gas complicated (how many litres in a gallon, again?) and made it hard to judge time based on distance. Apparently I have a very good grasp of how long it takes to go, say 150km. 150 miles? Not such a good grasp! (Hint – it definitely takes longer to go 150 miles!) Speed limits weren’t a big issue, as our speedometer has miles and kilometres on it. But it was weird not seeing any signs with speeds over a hundred on the big highways (and yes, I know they are called freeways in the US – another word difference).

Where we stop to freshen up. In Canada, at least wherever I’ve lived or traveled, we refer to a bathroom, washroom or toilet. In the US it is universally referred to as a restroom. Which I find a little funny, because I don’t go in there to have a rest :)

Letters on the hillside. Please, one of my US friends, explain this to me. Does every town put its initial on a hillside nearby? We saw it in at least five of the states we visited. I’d really like to understand this one better. In Canada we do love our large and odd monuments (largest beaver, etc) but I don’t recall ever seeing the initials on a hillside.


Large flags. While Canadians are patriotic, and we really like our cool maple leaf flag, we obviously do not love our flag anywhere near as much as the people of the US love their flag. I had heard this before, but thought it was hyperbole. I was taken aback every time I saw a giant flag, and I saw a lot of them!

IMG_1527So there you have it. Some of the quirky little things that make you realize you’re not in your own, familiar country, as much as we all think we are becoming a part of the US culture. I assure you, based on my trip, we are not.

PS OK, one more thing. I know our money looks like monopoly money to a lot of other countries, but I’d never appreciated how it sure is easier to know what you are pulling out of your wallet when each of your denomination bills is a different colour! And getting pennies again was weird.

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