Farewell Bike

After agonizing over the best action to take regarding cycling I finally hit the dust with the permanent decision to focus on giving my meniscal tears heal without feeling guilty that Bike was dripping oily tears from its gears. Not that gears are supposed to drip or be oily. We did try, Bike and I. A tune up and new front tire, nice cozy spot in the bike room, sturdy lock but no trips this season.

My first attempt was in February – we generally have great cycling all year round unless there is a rogue snowstorm. Chilly, knee highly sensitive. Fine, I could wait. Finally, May arrived, the weather has been great and I had gone for an x-ray and an MRI. The results were positive – actually worse than what I thought. All because I tripped on the road in Beijing. I also refused to go to a doctor, which meant my travel insurance was not used. Oh well. It also took several months to convince a physiatrist and my GP I had really done some possible major damage. I figured the cut, and now lovely scar, on my knee should have been a clear indication it was more than a scratch.

Dropped the physiatrist (that was for my other knee) insisted my GP do more. So, now that we know the extent of the damage – I also managed to pull the medial collateral ligament, damaged (not broken) the patella, and tore those darned menisci I am waiting to see a surgeon to discuss if surgery is necessary. It is amazing just how much injury a person can do just by walking! Put me on a bike; go on a hike; climb umpteen steps no problem – well, until recently.

Bike looks rather forlorn – I had not realized I was so attached.

So why give up riding? Why not wait? Go back to the guilt. Bike belonged to my mother, she could no longer ride I took the bike. She had named it Bike because it was rugged and zipped. My mother was never a keen cyclist and, like me, eschewed riding on the road. Bike is meant to be ridden. Bike is also, like me, getting on in years. I decided Bike should live out its remaining years being ridden. I contacted Island Metis Community & Family Services – in the same building where I once worked – where there is a donation ‘cupboard’. Larger items are not usually taken. However, it was decided that a sturdy bike, two helmets, etc. would be quickly snapped up.

As for me, I have a sturdy stick and walking poles. I also still have my stubborn streak. Perhaps I will see bike zipping by when I am walking one of the trails.

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Beach Walk: driftwood art

When my daughter said she did not feel like walking in a forest again I suggested we head to Esquimalt Lagoon, a five minute drive from where we live, where we could enjoy the ocean on one side and the lagoon opposite. It was a perfect day for such a meander, not too hot, only a light breeze, and plenty of fresh air. Little did we imagine we would stumble on an aviary. Of course I have also included some random shots of just how stunning my part of the world is. Thank goodness we are on an island. Without further ado – wild Vancouver Island. Can you name all of these lovely winged creatures?

Mini Adventure: Francis/King Park (path less travelled)

The Victoria Day long weekend tends to make me want to stay put. The long waits to catch a ferry, longer lines of vehicles clogging the highways, and crowds downtown do not mean a relaxing time. Fortunately we do have places to visit that are within a 5-15 minute drive and many of them can be visited without seeing another person. Expecting a slightly clouded over lazy Sunday I had hoped to visit the Hatley Park Gardens – once a family castle and gardens, then a military college and now the Royal Roads University I had enjoyed the gardens a few times over the 33+ years I have lived in Victoria. It was not to be – the summer months now see a fee being charged to see the gardens. Plus parking unless walking or transit. Thank goodness we always look for a second possibility when making plans.

We wanted an easy walk. Francis/King Regional Park, a 15 minute drive without highway driving, is the perfect spot with its accessible, cedar boardwalk and gravel, Elsie King Trail, to the moderate Centennial Trail that has more difficult offshoot trails. After passing 2-3 interpretive sidebars (pleasant seating, excellent information, and space for more than one stroller, scooter, or wheelchair) we tripped past a post pointing towards a Shooting Star Trail. I could not resist latching onto the trail of a shooting star! We were leaving the comfort of the manmade trail for the depths of the less travelled yet still within the limits of safety for us and the forest. With eleven trails in this 107 hectare park there is enough nature, ranging from 500 year old Douglas Firs to tiny meadow flowers and giant skunk cabbage, to please all visitors. A small, largely untouched, oasis surrounded by farms and modern life.

We enjoyed a peaceful, enchanting two hours, roughly six kilometres, accompanied by the light thunk thunk of a lone woodpecker, the far off call of a raven, light birdsong and many insects. Everything seemed muted by the soft sphagnum mosses in meadow, Grandpa’s Beard moss hanging from trees and the deeper green mosses wrapping the branches of grand, bare limbs. Roots and rock provided natural steps and designs far more original than any paintings. I was on the hunt for fungi knowing this was perfect weather. I hit the mother lode! To add to the perfect day we also discovered a small, floral clad roof cave – I could almost see the magic beginning to peek out.

There were a few trees that appeared to have been hit by lightening, shot through their cores and split; the remains of one lay across the side of the path, already renewed with growth. Although we did not seek out Skunk Cabbage Loop Trail we were happy to find that Shooting Star Trail closed the loop. The leaves reached up and across 2-3 feet up and over one foot across, out of a relatively small marsh. These beautiful plants (even the smell) always make me think of the arrival of spring, we had entered the stage of full renewal. (No photos, I could not figure out how to do the leaves justice)

I love looking up when on walks, in the notch of this host tree a holly plant was growing.

One of the still standing split, blackened trunks with a gnarled tree to its right that I only discovered when going through my photos

Sometimes taking the path less travelled, or at least giving the sense of unexplored, makes for the best adventure.

Mini Adventure?

My drive from Victoria to Comox return, was not exactly an adventure – I was taking my youngest daughter to Little River where she would board the ferry to Powell River. There are many water place names on Vancouver Island. The whole trip, with a stop for lunch in Parksville,two stops for gas, and two photo perfect beach stops took nine hours. We grabbed coffees before heading to the highway.

The drive from Langford, where I live, up the Malahat is always breathtaking – for the beauty and the white knuckle grip on the steering wheel. I now never drive the route when darkness is descending. The descent, going and coming, is only one of the reasons the ride can be likened to a roller coaster. Fortunately the road does widen and straighten out, even becoming rather boring at times until beyond Nanaimo.

I convinced my second daughter to go with us so she was in charge of searching for a vegan/GF eatery to stop at in Parksville for lunch. Two were closed. Her sister, the vegan, finally found a place that seemed promising. It was. Realm Food Co. fits into the quirky, dare I say nouveau hippy vibe of the area. Locals and visitors of a certain age (I do not mean over 60) these days expect healthy sounding, and appearing, not to forget expensive, choices. Realm delivers.

I had the ‘seasonal’ vegetable gazpacho. Considering the soup is always served chilled I had to bite my tongue when told it is a cold soup. As for the seasonal, I have no idea what was considered in season when the base was red pepper and tomato. Fortunately the small bowl ($5.00) was a decent serving and the gazpacho was quite good. A very light topping of cream (not quite sour cream nor coconut cream) with a sprinkle of sea salt (coarse of course) and a light spiciness was perfect for the increasing heat of the day.

My vegan child had a ‘Bliss’ Bowl, Indo- fritters, tahini coconut yogurt, marinated kale, pickled cabbage, sprouts, cucumber, tamari- ginger glaze, beet, steamed rice. A whopping $17.50! Her sister chose the Fish Buddy, rice tempura battered lingcod, spiced slaw, marinated,tomato, salsa verde, greens, pickled cabbage, turmeric aïoli, served on gluten free bun with a small side of salad. Better priced at $14.00. Everything was plated nicely, albeit the fish burger was on a wood trencher (centuries ago only the noble used these and often shared one side with a guest or spouse – I did try a lettuce leaf).

My daughters also had smoothies, I guess to make up for no breakfast. $9.00 each. KA-COW: cacao, maca, banana, shredded coconut, dates, coconut milk CAFÉ AU LAIT: espresso, cacao, banana, vanilla, coconut milk, dates. They provide paper straws. Thank goodness I was not paying.

There is a large blackboard to order from, except so much to choose from a line up happened behind me while we tried to decide. There were some patrons ahead of us and everyone seemed pretty low key. Service is make your selection, order and pay at the counter, a number (a piece of wood) is handed over. Although seating is not vast we had no trouble finding a table. Time must have stood still for a moment as barely settled did our meals appear. Everything was declared good, delicious, not sharing which makes our choice of Realm a good one.

Sated, we were on our way. A quick description only as pictures tell far more than I can. This time along Old Island Highway (19A) the less frenetic, beautiful ocean views, small communities route. Of course we had to stop for some photographs in Qualicum Beach. I believe there are few places in the world where views of mountaintops covered in snow, blue tinged islands, sandy beaches, paddle boarders and sailboats lightly bobbing on the ocean waves can be found in one spot. Added to the idyllic setting were children splashing in the shallows and dogs frolicking. The latter will not be allowed between June to September.

the photo shoot. Although inviting I chose to stay above the beach.

Once we had dropped my youngest off her sister and I returned along the same route to have a picnic and relax.

Wedding Wednesday: 45 Days

I have not written about the ups and downs about the planning for some time now. Not that the event has ground to a halt, just me having a bit of writer’s block. Which is rather silly when writing an update.

A week ago my daughter told me how excited my grandson is about the wedding. I thought that was very sweet. He even asked if his girlfriend can go. There will be a few of his friends with their dates. Rather an upside down wedding. Also rather fitting. His mother was not quite one when her father and I married ; of course she was included in the wedding party. Come to think of it I probably have some photos of her that I can give her. We are anything but conventional.

My grandson hanging out on a country road fence

Another interesting development is rings. Her dear fiancé does not want a ring – I wonder if it is more accepted for younger grooms to wear them. The bride had the brilliant idea to use the ring her father gave to me when we married. As she so perfectly said it was important to us at the time. Over the years she wore it as wedding band, often when her fiancé was away at sea. Being the kind person she is she asked how I felt about it – I had given the ring to her when she was a teenager. I said of course! That settled she went search of it while we discussed various items to cross off or add to our lists over the phone. That was a couple of days ago. Sad to say she has not found the ring yet. The groom may have to do some quick planning as a ring is one convention my daughter does want.

We recently had a very long phone conversation to go over everything! High on our list was the budget. It is always sobering when the numbers are crunched and do not fit into an allotted amount. The question of where to shave a few loonies and twoonies can become overwhelming. This week the largest deposit for venue will be paid. Perhaps my daughter should take a paper bag with her.

In addition to the deposit she is going to have a dress fitting the same day. The lace has been raised, now it is all the other work. I forgot to ask if raising the lace means the dress has been shortened. I assume it does. At first the fitting was not supposed to be until the beginning of June which means some trepidation on the part of the bride. She has a positive outlook, at least it will be done. Now all she needs to know is how much for the alterations so far. She thought maybe I should call if an estimate is not ready. I do know how to ask in Chinese, or could have her sister call. Not that either of us can ask too much about dressmaking in Mandarin.

多少钱?

Everything is falling into place – nearly. The band still has to call back to set up a time to meet again to discuss the music, playlist and anything else. Lengthy lapses to return calls (or these days texts and emails) tend to make brides nervous. It is also difficult to maintain control when questions go unanswered. In my opinion no more than three business days should go by if a client has questions when a contract has been signed and money handed over. Even if just to acknowledge the message has been received.

Of course there are vendors who have to remind customers payments are due. We had to go over our paid out list to check if the cake lady was already paid a second deposit. She was not. It may have been around this time my daughter asked if it was too late to elope. Or move everything to their front yard. I can see it now, a little sign on the dock informing guests they are to head to the country instead. Hm, I wonder if it is too late to rent an event tent.