I am sitting in my den in Florida on a very cold for here day. It is Christmas Eve, and the temperature is 30 degrees F or -1 C. It is sunny and should be a beautiful day, albeit chilly. I will soon find my ski jacket and don my woolies and take Oscar for a brisk walk. Yes, I am Canadian, and this should not seem too cold for me, but it is down here.
And then surprise of surprises. I woke up Christmas morning, Sunday, the very next day, with a cold and crummy feeling, and knew I would not be able to make Christmas dinner for my guests, some of whom are vulnerable to colds. I actually just couldn’t get out of bed with any energy. Even though I had prepped so much beforehand and my table was set, it was a non-starter. We postponed dinner until Wednesday.
Christmas dinner table waiting and nothing ever happened.
Tuesday night I had a dream that I should take a Covid test when I woke on Wednesday. My cold was typical, no aches and pains, but I had brought a box of Covid tests and they were up-to-date. And lo and behold, despite 5 shots, I had Covid. I did the test twice to be sure, and yes indeed I had Covid. Charles also tested and he was negative. Thinking back, he had had a cough and one feverish night, and may have had Covid, but now was clear. So we cancelled the dinner. Damn! I guess I had what is called breakthrough Covid. So my long book and I took to bed with some Tylenol, and it was only a few days before I started to feel almost better. Mild cold symptoms, lots of gingerale and I was back to cooking by Thursday. I made the turkey and all the rest and then packaged five dinners that Charles delivered including gifts, treats, dog presents for our friend’s darling dog, Kayley, and wine, beer. Charles even filled a water bottle with one of our friend’s favourite scotches and made a label. They also sent goodies back for us.
Today is day 6. I am finished the quarantine, and heading to get my nails done for our Zoom New Years, not that anyone would notice, and to pick up some fresh lobsters. Not 100% fully recovered, but good enough, and nap time is available later. Life loves to throw wild pitches.
Back to the summer of 2022, a time of travel. We had planned a visit to our kids in Quebec and Vancouver to touch base. That trip was delightful, but the highlight vacation was a trip out west where we rented an Air B& B in Sooke Harbour, and spent a week getting to know our newest grand daughter, Neve, and connecting with Sway, our 5 year old. Before we met up with them we returned to the wonderful Sonora Resort, located a flight away from Vancouver on a helicopter. see: Beautiful Province where we visited the summer before. At that time, we both thought that it would be fun to go fishing for salmon and then take our catch with us to Sooke. The fishing expedition was pretty lame as we were put with a contract guide, and he just wasn’t very good, albeit a pleasant enough man. The mistake was that he was hard of hearing, and wasn’t wearing aids, so when he asked us if we had fished before we emphatically said no. Obviously, he heard otherwise and when a fish was pulling he just handed me the line and expected me to know what to do. I didn’t. Charles’ one chance was lost to a very hungry sea lion. All in all it was an expensive, frustrating, unsatisfying morning, and it was drizzling as well. A hot delicious soup at lunch solved our chill problem along with a yummy nap. The view from our room was exquisite no matter what the weather, and we enjoyed that to the fullest.
view of Sonora
not a clue
terrific room, fireplace in the corner too.
Yummy crab dinner
the eagles are feeding
Dinner was exceptional; crab that we pre-ordered. The next day I had a wonderful swim in the heated pool while Charles worked out. We hiked in the afternoon and then at dinner there was a wild feeding frenzy of hundreds of eagles. Everyone watched and took pictures of course. We enjoyed the entertainment. In the morning we had booked what we thought was a private float plane to take us to Campbell River on our way to see the kids in Sooke. The plane was an old beater and there was a couple aboard who were sightseeing so I shared a seat with them. We stopped on our route once, even though I was anxious to get to our rental car. But patience prevailed. No choice.The car was waiting for us, and we eventually arrived and went shopping for seafood. I had checked Google and found Crabby Bob‘s that looked promising online, but was just a tiny floating kitchen and store. It was hot, and outside people were eating chowder so we ordered some, then told it would be made from scratch and would take a while. It was delicious, and while we waited, I shopped for all kinds of fish goodies that were frozen and we could take to Sooke. I figured we would do dinners at home every one of the 6 nights. The fish turned out to be excellent despite the tiny store.
Eventually, we were set and headed on our way with food. It was a long drive, just over 3 hours, but worth it when we arrived and saw our clan. The view was stupendous with mountains, the strait of Juan de Fuca in our sights and a stunning, if small house. The main living area was large, with a terrific kitchen, and our bedroom was very comfortable. The kids arrived before we did, and I told them to choose where to sleep. They wisely and thoughtfully gave us, the old folks, the master bedroom with bath. We had fresh crab for dinner and the best is that Sway and even 7 month old Neve eat everything. After dinner we had a bonfire on the beach, that was the first of many during the week. We roasted marshmallows. What a delight! Sway hugged spontaneously when we met, and I realized just how much we had missed family, being as we are, separated by a very large country.
Now I must tell you a little sad story. For years when I write this blog I have known that my friend, Sylvia Fraser, would read it. I always kind of thought of my grammar and turn of phrase with Sylvia’s eyes in mind.She told me this many times by email or in person, and as I write I would think of her. I was always writing knowing what a great writer she was, and so complimented that she liked this blog and enjoyed it, and now no more. She died recently. Sigh. Perhaps she knows how much I treasured our relationship. I certainly miss her being.
hiking back to car after the fall note dirty knees
Every morning waking up in this BC paradise I just absorbed the view, and enjoyed watching the girls play. Corby often made breakfast, and Kate and I did some shopping for vegetables and other necessities. Corby would plan out the day. This man is not lazy about his children. So it was hiking, going to beaches, our beach was all stones, so not walkable. I would plan our dinners around our seafood; pappardelle with sauce of mussels, shrimp. Asparagus, potatoes, chowder, salmon, unfortunately not our catch, and halibut. We ate many lunches out at small local eateries. The third day I slipped down a very steep, short hill and my bad knee was hyperextended. I reacquainted myself with Aleve and ice packs. It gradually healed. This getting old is not for the faint of heart.
the pebbly beach
Some days a deer scampered across our lawn. One day we all went swimming in an enormous family public indoor pool, another, we went to a delightful beach. One night we had a family movie with popcorn. All good times.
huge family pool
It wasn’t long before we had to leave for Toronto, but the entire week was simply marvellous. I believe I told you that Corby and Kate do not want images of their girls on the Net. And I respect that. I took many pictures and unfortunately will not share them with you. Sway is strawberry blond and Neve is getting that color hair too. They are both adorable, beautiful, and most importantly have lovely natures. I am a bit prejudiced, but I do feel blessed as although I have known Corby and his brothers since they were young, they are my step sons. I think of the girls as my real grand daughters and that helps the ache when I think of my cherished lost daughter, Carrie. Aria: Song of a Life, my book tells all.
views abound at Sooke
In August I planned another small trip. I had always wanted to spend a few days in Prince Edward County, known by many as just The County. Over two hours drive from our home in Toronto it is charming, picturesque and popular. The area is a wine growing region and has become very trendy over the years, sitting as it does on Lake Ontario, in verdant land. Lots of craft places, galleries, and some new hotels, and many restaurants in the towns of Picton and Wellington. I discovered a gorgeous property in the stunning design magazine, Nuvo, called Mirazule. When I saw the article on this unique property I decided to book it for a few days. Despite the fact that there is no sign for this very special B&B, matters not, once you find it. It is absolutely splendid with incredible views of lake Ontario and two hosts who are charming, welcoming and classy. Our bedroom was beautifully appointed and comfortable with a view of the most awe inspiring Lake Ontario, with massive trees, and big sky. I could live on that view.
on the wall at Drake Devonshire
nice by the lake, but the lunch…
When we arrived we were met by our hosts, Miguel and Ian, with glasses of wine, and introduced to the house dog, Raz. Before we arrived at our destination, we stopped for lunch at the Drake Devonshire hotel, where I had hosted a luncheon five years previously to celebrate my sister’s birthday. At that time it was charming, undiscovered and the food very very good. Since that time the hotel and its staff seemed to have strapped on a very snobbish attitude. The food was very pricey and not good. We had a tiny lobster roll thrown on a plate, ungarnished, well unless you count a few potato chips, and not very tasty at $33!! Lots of pieces of shell included too. It was a splendid day and lovely to sit outside, but really…
view from our room, and other spectacular sites at Mirazule below
The decor of Mirazule is breathtaking and the breakfasts delicious. Lots of fresh fruit and good eggs. We headed out each day to explore Picton, some wineries, and a wonderful gallery, Oeno, where Charles fell in love with a sculpture that we now have in our Toronto home. Gillie and Marc are the brilliant artists from Australia. They have these two characters that are full of joy, and look human sort of. The sculpture is called, ” They loved coffee, riding and each other.” It sits in our dining room and we just adore the fun that emanates from it. In Florida, I decided to buy another online with these two characters, and give it to Charles for Christmas. It is called, ” They love the Saturday drive with endless blue skies. ” I chose this because Liz, my girlfriend, had drawn my attention to an online sale, and also because the characters are in a blue sports car, like the one that Charles owns. Perfect, I thought. However, it arrived very quickly, way before Christmas, and Charles opened the parcel and asked what it was. I answered ” your Christmas gift!”
outdoor sculpture garden
how I love this sculpture
Dinner each night in The County, we chose, with the advice of our hosts, from different Picton restaurants. I enjoyed The Royal hotel the best. The food was delicious and creative, and we sat outside. Our experience was less that stellar though as the table opposite us was filled with small, noisy, untended, spoiled children. The parents, about eight of them, dined inside by themselves. Fortunately we outlasted the kids. The couple beside us said that they came for a quiet dinner and left their kids with sitters. I felt for them. We also did some shopping for souvenirs in the town, travelled around the countryside enjoying the various views, and then happily returned to our splendid accommodation, and our new friends. The first night we were the only guests, and then two other couples arrived during our stay, but we all pretty well kept to ourselves after the initial get to knows.
farewell to beautiful Prince Edward County
After this trip we continued on the highway to Quebec to visit our other grandchildren. We enjoyed lunch and dinner with them, stayed over night at a quaint inn, and then headed back to Toronto. All in all it was a satisfying vacation.
I am looking forward to telling you about the arts that I enjoyed during the summer. Meanwhile stay healthy and Happy New Year!