Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Boatyard Banter Report

Pretty happy to see my boat back in the water today. Didn't realize how much I missed my oceanic view until I had to climb up a ladder every day to get on her. Fred the dog definitely didn't appreciate that leap. Thanks to the kind folks around the yard, Paul who heaved him up at night for me and the lead Foreman, Al who brought over the fork lift with a pallet on it to help him down. Poor Fred has severe osteoarthritis in his hips. Dear Uncle Leonard always puts things right.
"Old age is the shits!" he would say. Same goes for dogs.
So what started as two days in the boatyard for a hair cut and a shave - ended up as almost five. The problem with projects is this. When you start a little something and you think you can get it done there comes a time where things end up becoming what I call, the point of no return.
I thought I could paint the bottom, the bootstripe, put a couple coats of varnish on the transom and maybe do some touch-up paint on the hull. When I started on the touch-up paint on the hull, it became a repair here, a bondo or filler there a bit more sanding here and so on. I didn't really even have a chance to get to the port side.
What I know is this. My boat, with full water and fuel tanks weighs 22,000 pounds. I used two and almost a half gallons of bottom paint doing two coats. Wood boats need more time to cure after the first coat before you apply the second coat (no 'hot coating') and bottom paint cure time on wood boats is longer. Thus, for me the extra day in the yard.
Also, shaft size is now known to be 1 1/8th. Next year I send a diver down and haul out again in two providing I don't abuse the bottom anywhere anytime in the next year.
Alas, everything and everybody you need is available to you at Westport Marina in Sidney. Including the lovely Eileen in the marine store. When I entered distraught one morning, feeling defeated she asked me one simple question that put my mind at ease.
"Is it fixable?"
Yes, it most definitely was. A shout out of thanks to all!

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Journey

Heard something today which made me open my eyes. Wide open.
It turned out we are both the same age. That young at 46 years on earth.
Jonathan was telling me about his revolutionary change in lifestyle. Moving from idyllic Brentwood Bay to seven acres on Hornby Island. Self-made in his own business he planned to carry on with the hobby farm sideline.
I was in awe at this kind of change for a young family with two young children. Then he said something that struck me like a lightning rod.
“There’s the powerboat and there’s a sailboat. The powerboat will get you there fast while the sailboat will let you enjoy the journey along the way.”
We’re in the boatyard standing next to my baby. He compares this analogy to life. You either enjoy it or you let it fly by you.
Further discussion revolved around quality of life, living sustainably and hunkering down to fate and what the heart dictates.
Splendid I mused to myself once more. I’ll take the sailboat thank you very much.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Mariner’s Way

It never occurred to me to ask his name. Suppose I didn’t need to. He knew where I lived and I know where his boat is moored.
I’m on the bottom of my boat. Grunting along with a roller coating the heavy stinky bottom paint on the hull of my old wooden boat. It’s taking a while and I’m not quite done the port side. Along comes Mr. Monk, Monk being the design of his boat, with some off-handed comment to the effect of “You’re almost there.”
Ha. Not even close I lament. I’m struggling as it is. It’s baking outside. I’m sick of smelling this obnoxious paint. I’ve been at it in the boatyard working away for going on my third day. Sun-up to sun-down.
Eventually I make my way round. Topping up my roller tray as I go. Then to my horror I realize I’m just over half way through my boat and I’ve got not enough paint left in my second can.
Sparingly I proceed. Changing my gloves. Struggling. The chandlery is closed it’s already well after 5 p.m.
Mr. Monk comes back the other way. I eye my tray and portray a grumble. Somehow he senses my predicament.
“I’ve got a half gallon left if you need it.”
“Yes please,” I quickly reply removing my mask. I have underneath the pads to do yet, besides the rest of the boat.
He’s about to launch his boat and comes over for some bottom paint out of my tray to do underneath the blocks while his boat is in the slings.
Upon his return he has a plastic bag. Leaving a stubby brush behind he suggests I use what I need and leave the brush inside.
It’s the same bottom paint I’ve always used for my boat (except today). I ask where he’s moored. I know where and to whom I need to leave it.
As he motors away I’m all done and I turn to yell, “You’re a lifesaver!”
Not really, it’s the mariner’s way. We always help each other out, no matter what.
If there’s a call at sea of someone in distress and you’re nearby, you help. No questions. No hesitation. It’s what I love about the sea. Us mariners speak a language of oneness. It’s the all for all.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Tail Wag

Uncle Len or Leonard is one of my best friends. We're both born on the same day - fourty years apart. Leonard is a retired boat builder. Well he was until I brought him out of retirement to help me restore my old wood boat.
Today he was helping me with some woodwork on the transom. The boatyard dogs are running freely, including Fred. My son's dog which I inherited from a pup.
I happen to be bending over cleaning out a brush when he out of the blue made this comment.
"A dog wags his tail with his heart."
I thought to myself, how true. They're happy. In their heart's they are happy and they show it by wagging their tail.
The two legged creatures on this planet don't have a tail to wing around, rather a face they can paint a grin on.
Not always sure it comes from the heart!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Hair Cut and a Shave

Thought I’d be able to put off my annual boat haul out for two years. Then I got scared. These things called zincs that are attached to the bottom of your boat and to your prop shaft wear out and then electricity in the water causes the thru hulls and prop blades to get electrolysis. Not good. If there’s no bottom paint on my old wooden boat the worms will get in and eat her and then what?
Oh my gosh. As it turns out, my haul out will be a neat in the boater’s world lingo, “Hair cut and a shave.”
She’s a 1967 Hugh Angelman designed Sea Witch or Sea Spirit ketch. Teak hull. She’s been my home for coming up to seven years. But when I haul out, which I will be doing every year from now on… it’s a little disruptive on the lifestyle. Puts a little kink in the days. Especially for poor Fred the dog.
I left my marina this morning at 7 a.m. Once I got out into the Strait there was the start of a gale blowing. Three foot seas and a nice swell. We got tossed and turned. At one point I went below. That was hilarious. Everything that was on either side was on the floor. Tomatoes were splattered. Fred the dog was not enjoying the ride I can tell you that.
Seven hours later (I was bucking currents and tides) I made it for the slings to hoist her up and get her power washed.
I worked till dark tonight along with Paul who works in the yard. He sanded the bottom while I sanded my transom. Gonna gush her up and make her shine. Then it’s back in the water we go again.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Language Evolves

Never heard of toodles till I met someone British. A swell way to say goodbye I muse to myself. But according to Wikipedia it’s French: A shortened, more casual version of the French expression à tout à l'heure (Anglicized as "toodle-oo"), meaning goodbye.
How interesting. Not too long ago I read an article in the paper with reference to a fellow by the name of Grant Barrett. His book so happily called The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English. Another wards slang. Apparently it’s a book that tracks the life cycles of slang. My dear dad would roll over in his grave if he held something like that in his hand.
Beside father’s reading chair lay an Oxford Dictionary. For as long as he could he would hold a book in his hand and read. (He had suffered a stroke at the age of fourty-four and was left paralyzed on his left side, so he had one working hand only.) He loved to read, watch the news, listen to the radio and stay on top of current affairs. He also loved to preach what was important to him. One such line heard often was “Speak the Queen’s English!”
The English language has evolved. No question. With computers and text messaging the written word has also changed. New words get added. I’m one for making up my own too. It concerns me though, with spell checks and computers, how are kids growing up to read, write and speak proper English? Theatre is a sure vehicle for pushing the power of the spoken word, but it too is fading away.
I picked up one of dad’s old Winston Churchill books the other day. Written a long time ago. There were words I had to look up on some pages. The style was different. The sentences were elegant.
Amazon has claimed more sales of late with the electronic era then in the real hard cover book. Newspapers are dissolving. Really, will everything have to be read in the future on a computer screen? I shutter to think. I shutter to think if dad were alive today, what he would say.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Life in a Day

Don’t look back kept popping into my head today. First off during my 10km run around Elk and Beaver Lakes. I was pacing behind Glenn and Donna. Catherine held back three and half minutes before she started. I resisted looking back for her to conserve energy. My second run this week and second one in four months. Already onto a 10km.
I heard her come up, but I didn’t look back.
Last night I decided to shoot a time capsule of my day for the Life in a Day documentary. A global project preserving this day in history by documenting it through self-shot You Tube videos. To be edited and broadcast at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011.
How ambitious. By noon I’d already shot 16 minutes.
As it’s the first day of my holidays, I took it easy today. First the run, then breakfast, coffee, a newspaper read then a nap. Up to do dishes and depart for the country to see momma who was visiting friends and then to the Sooke Fine Arts show. Not a huge day but I found myself opinionated each time I spoke to the camera.
What do I fear most? Lack of water, destruction of mother earth, not being able to use my skills to somehow make a difference, consumerism. What do I love about life? People, learning, fresh air, clean water, freedom. What makes me laugh? Silly people definitely. Hanging with friends and not being afraid to speak my mind.
So why did don’t look back keep coming into my mind today? I read something about it in my horoscope. I heard it in a song. I’m recording a time capsule of my day and don’t look back keeps popping in my head.
I’ve always been one for preserving moments in history either through the written word or photography. A chance to look back and remember what was. How that time felt. A reflection of where you are now.
As this day draws to a close, with a beautiful moon shining I say to myself, it is time to move on. To another day with more opportunities to learn, grow, share and shine - with gratitude.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Solitude Holitude With Life in a Day

My new name for holidays. Solitude holitude! I started today around noon. Don’t get paid for them. But sure plan on enjoying them.
Never been one for doing nothing. Tomorrow morning starts off with a 10km run around Elk and Beaver Lakes. Maybe a swim after. Then it’s wherever my heart takes me.
I also plan on shooting a Life in a Day video My time capsule of July 24, 2010. Also my first official day of holidays. There are three questions to be included in my vid: What do you fear most in your life? What do you love most in your life? What makes you laugh?
Then there’s the soundtrack inclusions: a clap, a single note held for as long as I can, the sound of my breath in and out and a snap of my favourite sound. Also a blip on what’s in my pocket.
Unedited this will then get posted to You Tube and possibly viewed by the likes of Kevin MacDonald and Ridley Scott if it makes it past the editing bench. Then maybe chosen for inclusion in the full length documentary to be aired at Sundance 2011.
Pretty cool I have to say. A video time capsule of my day tomorrow.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Flow

Don’t usually travel the same road twice. Like a river, I’ll run through it and keep going. Which is pretty much how I like my days to go. Wherever they may.
My youngest brother told me a story which I remind myself of every once in a while. You never know where the day will take you from the time you wake up.
He was up north somewhere on Vancouver Island. Seaside. Got up in the morning and put his Teva sandals on with his shorts and his shirt of course. Hung out on the boat and the next thing he knows he is being picked up by a buddy in another boat and they’re heading out to a log boom. They do some work around the boom and from there they make their way to land. A hike up a mountain to some cabin. Something like that. It was a while ago and the extent of the details have fogged up.
What made me think of this was the fact that from what he claimed, he did it all in his sandals. Had he known where he was going and what he was doing, he probably would not of worn them.
I am always open to meeting new people or hanging out with acquaintances. So rather then go home and dwell in my dullness tonight, I accepted an invitation to a pasta dinner from my pal Catherine after our track run workout. Before she knew it there were four around her dinner table. What a joy to talk, eat and hang out with people you know and have recently met.
Goes to show you. You just never know where a day will take you - if you let it.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Why I Blog

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I speak my mind. I’ve been known to show the Poker Face. I can say out loud what some people may think but are too afraid to. I dare to be different.
Writing is something I’ve always been passionate about. Many years ago I wrote for community papers and a business magazine. I loved it. Because of a grave family member’s illness I gave it up and in doing so lost my parking spot so to speak.
Years later I moved into television. Combining words, visuals and sound. Super fun. Loved it a lot. It was heart wrenching loosing that kind of job to lay-offs.
Some more years later I find myself here. Wanting to write. Hanging out with Social Media. The gist of journalism still in my blood. It never leaves. Soon I’ll be combining more visual and audio to my blog site. In the meantime, if you’re still reading I want to share with you a comment a woman made to me this morning which made my soul shine.
From June 26 – July 3 I did the BC Bike Race Challenge course. I blogged about it everyday after my ride. Had a blast doing it and writing about it. This lady told me she read my blog everyday and felt that what I wrote was inspiring and made anyone feel they could go about setting goals and achieving them like I did.
The smile on my face is still shining. For me, writing or blogging is telling a story in some way I hope that will inspire others to share, do or dare. Today, that’s why I blog.
Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Five Years of Liberty!

It’s been five years since I hucked a piece of what was once my life into the ocean. Never again to be seen to enter my body. I call it my journey away from darkness.
No one I knew thought I had a problem with either drugs or alcohol. I guess I hid things well. My world of darkness was shared inside myself. Inside a hollow black cloud that hung over my head and walked with me wherever I went.
It was a hot summer day half a decade ago when I made the decision to seek help. To reach out. Although denial staggered the first steps, I faced the music. Weak. Out of control. I was emotionally shattered.
Call them excuses, at least that’s what I made them out to be. I had been laid off from a great job. Found out by hearing it on the news on the first week of my holiday. My best friend died of lung cancer. Ten days later my dad died. All within a year. I had no where to hang my hat.
My built in comforts were becoming wake and bakes and nooners in a pub. Not good. I could hide there forever. But I soon realized. I was going nowhere.
I can look back on that day and remember it like it was yesterday. How I felt, how I knew I looked.
The people who surrounded me at my first meeting gave me Kleenex. They knew where I was. So did someone close to me, who I also reached out to.
Books helped. So did talking about it. Acceptance was critical. Soon, days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months.
The years have now passed. My life is fresh. My mind is clear. My eyes are bright. My body is proud. My brain thinks. My creativity flourishes. And my heart sings – LIBERTY!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Life is Transparent

Saw something silly the other day and tried to make a joke of it to the couple to whom it appeared. It didn’t go over well. I got a chuckle out of it though. Thought I’d pass it along.
There I am mid-day slaving over a paint can. Paint brush in one hand, roller in the other. Spreading Grand Banks Beige all over an upper bridge deck of a 1967 Monk power boat. I’m in a boathouse. Things are going well. Until I hear a woman in slight distress.
“Oh my god we’re going to hit that boat!”
A large white gin palace has floated into the opposite dock. The bow (front) of the boat is veering nicely into the dock while the stern (back) of the boat is wildly flinging itself in the opposite direction towards the boat next door.
The said woman brings out the stick pole and madly pushes the stern away from their neighbour. Then the foolishness occurs. The man, presumably the Captain leaps onto the bow of his boat and jumps off onto the dock. Without a dock line to go with him. At this point I’m thinking, she’s pushing stern in, bow is going out, said Captain has now jumped off the boat – who’s driving this boat?
The man or rather the Captain then tries to wield himself to the bow of the boat to pull it dockside. However, the women has already planted pole on neighbour’s boat and the stern is well on it’s way in. So said Captain tries to hold onto the bow of the boat while the stern is coming in pushing the boat out and well let’s just say kerplop. In he goes.
Now the woman is in even more distress and loudly screams in more then soprano, “Help, HELP, somebody HELP US! Help, help, HELP!”
Within seconds another couple are there to assist. All is well. A littler later on I hear the swish swash of the feet as the man, aka Captain helps tie his boat up. At this point the woman takes him onto the boat and gets him to strip down the wet stuff. The water is cold. Not warm enough to swim or even have a bath. Breathtakingly cold.
The next day I’m fielding this time a varnish brush. Mask on. I see the man or Captain washing his boat. A change of clothes. He’s working away. I can’t resist. I take my mask off and yell across the water.
“That You Tube Video I shot of you two has a thousand hits already!”
He didn’t appear to have much of a sense of humour. So I felt a little remorse for the poor guy and added politely, “Just kidding.”
Pretty sure he was glad I was. But it goes to show you, anything we do in life that is visible to a camera can be aired to the world. Simply by pressing a few buttons. Click, click, click.
Our lives truly are transparent.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Sunday Rest

Took a day off today. It felt great. I did what most people do.
Got up. Read the paper. Made breakfast. Had a shower. Did the dishes. Put the laundry away.
Son came over for a visit. Then, we left the dock. That is the boat moved away from dock and we motored out of the Inner Harbour (yyj).
That’s when the fog bank rolled in. So much for the cruise to Oak Bay.
Still had fun though. We had views of the Royal Princess cruise ship coming in. Monster big. Cool to see away from the pier. The bro motored by on the newest whale watching vessel on the coast. Huge wake with her.
Later we did the peep show around the inner Inner Harbour. Apparently a classic car show on in front of the Legislature. We float by gawking. Basking in the glory of the day.
We bang back into home and the Holistic Sailor announces there’s an impromptu Q happening at the end of the dock. How lovely. Perfect I get to hang with my neighbours. All great people.
Now I’m thinking, can tomorrow be another one like this?
Zip, zap not a chance. Back to work I go. It’s all good though. I’ve got breaths of fresh sea air stowed away in my lungs. How lucky am I!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Exercise is Right

Got up at 4:45 am this morning so I could go meet a pal for hill repeats on our road bikes. It’s been a while. After the seven day BC Bike Race I took a breather to work 12 hour days in a boatyard with the summer cold.
Back at it this morning felt so good. Made me think about my goals for the future. I’ve heard other people say it. If they didn’t have to work all day they would train. One person I sided with on the multi-sport triathlon thing. Another a marathon. Yet another - fitness for fun.
What is it about the heart pumping beads of sweat rolling that gives us that ultimate satisfaction? The endorphin high. Clean skin. More energy for the day. Excuse to eat a chocolate brownie for dessert!
There’s simply no escaping the fact that are lifestyles are for the most part lazy. It’s built in. We don’t have to hand wash our laundry or walk a mile for a Mars bar. It’s four wheels and gasoline that gets us places. With household habits furnished with machines to do this and that.
It escapes me how we’ve allowed ourselves to become so docile. You have to want to book the time in your day to workout. Plain and simple. No time, no workout. Rather, can’t make the time, then you don’t work out.
I’m not good at getting out of bed early. Especially by myself. If I’m meeting someone or say I will meet someone for a ride or run, I’ll do it. Otherwise, there’s a lot of sleeping in that goes on. Except for when I dangled the thought of that belt buckle in my head for the BC Bike Race finish on Day 7. I wanted it. And I got it. And I got out of bed all by myself to ride with myself to get it.
Next up, the Xterra and a Half Marathon I’m thinking. Maybe Trans Rockies or Trans Alps next year. Whatever. Need to keep going. It feels good. It’s the right thing to do for me, my family, my health, my community and the world. Cause it keeps me healthy, strong and focused so I can do good each day. Exercise is simply right. Cause morally it's good for us.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Future Free

Since my son was old enough to understand, I told him if he started smoking I’d kill him. As he grew up whenever I said that he got a little cocky and declared, “That’s child abuse you can’t do that.”
All joking aside, I wanted to instill in him smoking is not on. Now that he’s 18 years-old I’ve given him another threat.
“If you get caught abusing alcohol I’m putting you in the army.”
To which he replied, “Ryley wants to join the military and wants me to join with him.”
Humph I think to myself. That didn’t quite get the response I thought it might.
I am one for setting boundaries. For sure. Loosely. I’m also one, as a mother for cutting the strings as early as possible and placing one said boomerang in one child’s head. Get out there. Get going. Don’t catch your shirt tail on the door on the way out.
When said son claims boredom I think to myself, what do you expect you live in Victoria (British Columbia, Canada)? No disrespect. I was born here. I also left here in my teens. First for Europe. Later for Toronto, then Vancouver.
When number one says “I’ve gotta get out of here before I loose my mind!” my heart sings. Hallelujah – you’ve got it dialed. Time now to find your future. Run boy, run. Don’t hide. Go. Go anywhere. Go now!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A Home Like No Other

I call her affordable waterfront property. Even though I don’t own her completely – I have a mortgage. I live on her though. She’s my home. For the past six years. I float around.
I love that when I come home she seems to forgive me for being away. No need to water anything. Except for the decks when it gets dry - like now.
I know small spaces aren’t for everyone. I like it though. It keeps things simple. For every one thing I bring home, I need to take two or three off. It’s a must. Don’t need three pairs of running shoes. That’s for sure. One will do.
What do I miss? Not mowing the lawn or gardening. Maybe the bathtub. Yes. A bathtub. I think if anything that occasional ahhhh in a hot tub with some kind of aroma therapy. But really, I have everything I need. I can cook for a party of 10 or more. No problem there. If I want I can sit outside on my back deck. If I need to I can watch television or a movie or use my computer. I have a fridge, which is a bonus. I don’t have hot running water. I have to boil it. No big deal. When a friend asks me to house sit I say yes, reluctantly. Short term, I can live with that. Long term, don’t think I could. Home is really where my heart is. I’m so glad to be home!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Dream Job

Do you have one in mind? Someone asked me that today. As a writer and photographer what would be your dream job?
Working with CBC comes to mind. Profiling people especially. One on one’s like what Peter Mansbridge and Barbara Walters do. I’ve spoken with Prime Ministers, famous actors, even drug addicts and street people. I’m not afraid to speak with celebrities or humans of high stature. In fact I enjoy the challenge to see them speak at ground level. Feet planted firmly. Laughter in the air. One on one like humans. Demystified.
I’d totally dig a job on The Hour with George Stoumboulopoulos I love eye candy and what the digital world can fuse with the real thing. That rocks my world. I totally approve of the direction CBC is going with their news. It’s what we were doing in 2004 with The New VI when Moses Znaimer came to town.
I suppose I most appreciate interviewing people. Learning. Hearing their stories and taking some form of inspiration from each and sharing it with the world. To make a difference.
In my youth I constantly wrote down what I thought to be captivating quotes. From books, movies, people or ideas that randomly popped into my head. I have scores of notebooks with one-liners. Jibber jabber here and there.
Since I’ve done the film, the television, the magazine, web, photography, writing, event activations and the newspaper thing making it all come together digitally would be super sweet. The how to do what you’re passionate about, but technically challenged at and oh, minor inconvenience… need to credit the bank account with occasionally too.
So to summarize my dream job involves writing, photography, film and television, digital animation, people and making a difference by inspiring the world with other people’s stories. So there!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Uganda Bound

Opportunities come at times unexpectedly. Always seeking innovation, new ideas and outside the box stimulus, I jumped at this one.
From November 2 to December 15 I will be in Uganda, Africa. Helping out at the Mengo Hospital.
As I call myself a New Media Journalist I plan to blog a story a day. Not necessarily of what is, but what could be in the eyes of the Uganda people.
CBC recently produced documentaries looking at the other side of Africa. Away from the devastation and towards the hope for the future. My thinking is I document the wishes of the people. So that the Universe can listen.
I have my own wish. This one is for the world. I wish for peace and the end to war and suffering.
In the coming months, I look forward to researching more about the people of Uganda in preparation for documenting their stories and their wishes.
Today I think to myself: Is there enough foreign aid? Are there opportunities for the young people? Are medical teams available and doing all that they can? What economic opportunities lay ahead that the people of Uganda can export globally?
Consider this blog a shout out for your ideas. What else can I do as a New Media Journalist for six weeks at the Mengo Hospital in Uganda, Africa? I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Free Spirits

Go as you please. Take what you want. Don’t need to tell anyone anything. Come and go. Help if you feel like it. Turn your back on anyone you want. Leave anytime. Smile if you heart says so. Laugh if you please. Cry if you want. What else?
Drop hook somewhere. Float around. Cast a rod. Sling a fish, maybe. Take a walk. Off on a hike? Escape to nowhere. Doesn’t matter when, or where or how. Nothing matters. What is, is only for now.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Summer Sweetness in Food

The lazy hazy days of summer. When we were kids mum used to drag the mattresses outside to the front porch. From about the May long weekend to the September long weekend our bed sheets smelt like the fresh outdoors.
No need for an alarm it was the sunshine and the birds that got us cranked up. Carefree days and long lost nights. Did we really need to sleep? Not much.
Summer says vacation. Warm days. Warm nights. Shorts and sandals. Hats and sunscreen. Barbecues and beach volleyball.
On Vancouver Island it’s our chance to shine. I was handed a fresh off the press brochure today. The 2010 Local Food Guide with a headline: Get fresh with the locals.
I thought back to the summer I spent at the horse farm cultivating my keep by slogging the manure and earning extra cash on the side picking strawberries. That was hard work. All day, hands and knees. One in the mouth, three in the tray. There is something really rich about eating food fresh from the ground. The smell - the taste. The newness and crispness to be savoured. I often wonder what it would be like to only be able to buy local food. Would we have enough? Could we surive without a lemon? Or could we somehow grow all that we need?
I heard the Organic Islands Festival is on this weekend. Now if only I had the lazy part of summer to dawdle through and didn’t have to work… summer food for thoughts.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Health is Wealth

Last night I went to bed for a nap. Thought I’d wake up within 15 minutes so I could write my blog. Clearly I was sick. I didn’t wake up until a phone call at 6:20 a.m. this morning. Bummer.
Made me think about things though. Here I was rushing around to do the BC Bike Race where I maxed myself riding a mountain bike on the sweetest single track British Columbia has to offer. I don’t sleep much the final encore as I’m so wound I DID IT! All seven days of the Challenge Course. Then what do I do, I go straight home and back to work in the boatyard in 30 degree Celsius heat with not much sleep and thighs I know exist. So what happens… I get the summer cold. Haven’t had anything like that for I swear two years.
My famous anecdote rings in my head, time to slow down sit down and shut down. So I do, but then I don’t get up for ten hours.
Back to the headline. Health is wealth. No matter what we do in life, health is gold. Really, it’s our bread and butter. If we didn’t have it, there would be nothing.
My dad was 44 years old when he had his first stroke. I was nine years old and remember it like it was yesterday. One day he was dad, next day he was someone in a hospital bed with a bandage wrapped around his head and drool coming out the side of his mouth.
He survived paralyzed on his left side and lived a love filled life until his later seventies. But one thing always stuck with me. No matter how much money we had, it would never bring the feeling back in his left side. Or, get him out of that wheelchair in the latter years.
When I think about what I’m doing to survive because of financial pressures and the almighty buck, I need to remind myself about my dad. Like he used to say, your health is your wealth and without it you have nothing.
Time to rest up. Thanks, dad.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Dakine Bag Wazoo

BC Bike Race is a seven-day stage mountain bike race with a choice of two courses: Challenge or Epic. This was my first stage race. I did the Challenge.
For more information go to

“Take your pillow case, then at least you can fill it up with clothes and use it as a pillow,” said Peter as I scrambled to re-pack my luggage into my new BC Bike Race Dakine racer bag, discarding everything I wouldn't need until Day 7 elsewhere.
I had 15 minutes to get it loaded onto the truck. All of which I would not see until the end of Day 7.
It was a gallant attempt at downsizing from a backpack, gym bag and dry bag (with sleeping bag, pillow and throw blanket). Not everything made it.
By the end of Day 2 you pretty much have it figured as to how things will organize into your Dakine bag. What I missed most was my pillow. Luckily I’d managed to fit my three-season sleeping bag in, and my inflatable blow-up air mattress. That made for good sleeps. Too bad I didn’t make it to somewhere like Mountain Equipment Co-op to find some comfy type of blow-up pillow too.
It worked to pack the sleeping bag with the extra bike parts in the bottom of the top of the bag. I took an extra brake, pedals, tires and tubes.
In the middle all the clothes and as I was blogging, my computer with Telus stick and Blackberry charger. I didn’t have room for jeans and extra shoes. Only a light weight pair of track pants (anything that folds small) and thongs. In the front of the bag I packed my almonds, protein bars, vitamins, Traumeel (topical gel and tablets), a container of Witch Hazel (great for butt burn) and Chammy cream, Wild Oregano Oil (works great if you get the stomach flue - which I did), sunglasses, dates and apples when I had them.
Since I live on a boat, which is often cold I made sure I packed my wool socks and a fleece hat for the evenings. It did get cold and damp. One good long-sleeved thermal undershirt was a bonus too.
I took two raincoats so at least when it did rain, I had one to change into after riding.
Before I left I bought two extra pairs of cycling shorts, in case I didn’t have access to laundry. I also took a bandanna with me. For the hot rides. I would soak it up with water and put it around my neck. It kept me cool.
With my toiletries I did the zip-lock thing and put everything in super small containers. Shampoo, moisturizer and soap all got locked so no seepage.
The only thing I missed all week was my jeans and my pillow. Not bad for a first timer!

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Uni Challenger of BC Bike Race

Still can’t believe the Unicyclist, Kris Holm did the entire seven days of the Challenge Course on one wheel. Man could he climb. He’d always get me on the climbing.
We’d often meet at the start. Reflecting on the nerves, getting ready to do the jive. He’s the coolest guy I’ve ever met. Especially after seeing the video. He actually rode the Burrard Street bridge in Vancouver. The outside rail part. The vid was incredible. I asked him if he was scared. He said it was all about being in the groove. Once you get in the rhythm, it’s all good.Then he tells me he made a promise to his wife he’d never do that again. We both laugh.
The guy is super fit. He’s got an incredible wheel to power. Some kind of hydraulic break. If he ever got a flat, it’s a nightmare to change as he has to take the break apart to do it. He’s open to people asking him questions about the mechanical aspects of his Uni. Apparently designed hub wise by himself. In collaboration with another guy.
His gear for protection includes wrist, leg and knee guards, besides the gloves and the helmet. Oh, and high tops. To preserve his ankles.
His seat looked pretty comfortable. When he’d wait on the race starts he’d use his wheel for the pad. I thought I was challenged enough riding two wheels, but to see what we did and what he did on one, I was pretty amazed.
Goes to show you, whatever you put your mind to, you can do.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

View From My Tent - BC Bike Race Moments

Nothing has changed at home. Except me. I feel dizzy. I’m not done yet. I have not cut off my BC Bike Race wristband. I’m still gulping down the fact that I rode the BC Bike Race Challenge Course. All seven days.
In all the training I got done in a week ahead of the race, the most hours I managed was 14 – only once. Over the past seven days I rode a total of 22 hours, 28 minutes and 21 seconds – mountain biking. I’m awaiting confirmation on the total kilometers. Pretty sure it’s just shy of 200.
The results have me posted as fifth overall for the Solo Women, out of 11. I’m pretty pleased with that. I podiumed on Day 6 in second place. I was stoked with that. I worked hard to get there. Definitely could of done with another year or more of training. But in the short time I had (three and half months) I think I did OK. I left room for improvement.
Family and friends want to hear all. I go through each day step by step. Relive the moments of the rides. Feel the pain again. It was hard work. Truly. When I drop my bike off to my son for a wash and grease he asks me will I be doing the long one (Epic) next year? I hesitate. Stalled for an answer. I ask him if he’ll ride with me in a team. That would be cool. There was a father/son team that did the Challenge. They were from the US.
I continue to reflect on the greatness of the last week. The exhilaration of the race start on Day 1. Leaving the Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo in a pack. All 500 of us.
Or, the coolness of the team of four that rolled by me on some gravel road in the middle of Day 2’s course in Cumberland. She at the back, drafting the three of them. Pretty sure they were the Australians.
Then I chuckle thinking of dude in the tighty blackies walking to the washroom trailer at the same time I was before dusk one morning. At least I wore my pyjamas.
Or the shower when all the shampoo was lathered in the hair and the water turned to ice. The day was already cold. I left refreshed.
Then there were the BCBR fans in the communities that during each race start cheered us on. Hooting and hollering. The bag pipers in Powell River as we all waltzed to our bikes readying for the race start. And the cool group of kids high fiveing us as we enter the incredible forests in Powell River. Maybe some of them will end up as Pros?
The wildlife seemed scarce, except for the black momma bear and baby in a field at Whistler. Although many a black bear’s presence was seen in the fields of salal we rolled through. We were in their turf.
Then there were the birds. They didn’t seem to mind us. Each forest we went through had their own song. And each had a fresh breath of air.
Logging scars were seen. But if it weren’t for the loggers I’m sure a lot of these trails wouldn’t be there for us to access and ride.
I reflect on the kindness and professionalism of each red shirt, the BCBR staff and volunteers. Mr. Michael Jacoby who diligently cared for my bag, knowing I was packing my computer so I could blog daily.
Never a grump on anyone’s face whenever a question was asked.
The days went by too fast. As I sat at the banquet dinner last night at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler flanked by South Africa and Austria I think to myself, my favourite part of being at the BC Bike Race is that fact that I got to share this experience with the World.

Registration is open now for BC Bike Race 2011 at Early Bird Registration rates. Don’t hesitate. Do it! You won’t regret it.
I recommend you start training tomorrow.
For more information go to

Saturday, 3 July 2010

What Now?

The last seven days breezed by. When I crossed the finish line of Day 7 of the Challenge Course for BC Bike Race at the base of Blackcomb in Whistler, Dean Payne the Founder and President asked me to take my helmet off. He then dawned me with the BCBR belt buckle. The thing that dangled in my head on those 4:15 a.m. wake-ups to get that three-hour ride in before work.
I couldn’t help get emotional. I DID IT! I rode all seven days. And I’ve got at least two or three bruises or cuts from each day to prove it.
As I move through the finish shoot I’m asked for my t-shirt size. Next I receive the official Finisher shirt. I call my son.
While I climbed through Whistler today I thought to myself, what now? I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and not have to worry about getting in the breakfast line early. I’ll have to make my own coffee, find my own breakfast. I won’t have Christian from Austria (pictured above) to talk to about today’s course. We were both Challengers. (He Googled mountain biking sightseeing and found the BC Bike Race.)
This morning as we were packing up in Squamish I could hear Australia talking about their plans for a Walkabout in BC. Another claimed Alaska. Then I heard from the Belgium’s, a canoe trip. A few of the folks from Calgary unfortunately had to bolt back home and to work.
Tourism BC must love the BC Bike Race. I heard 21 countries. Many with support crew travelling with them. Most staying longer in BC and elsewhere. Some support crews volunteer with the BCBR crew along the way. We’ve all become a family. I feel sad to leave it.
During last night’s dinner we had the Squamish logger chainsaw demonstration. Everyone thought stool when he did his cuts out of a piece of firewood. Instead he made a ‘B’ out of the wood and then pulled out the rest for BCBR. I got quite emotional.
It takes a team to make this happen. Yet a leader with a vision and charisma to pave the way. Constant reminders of areas for improvement, suggestions or ideas to make it even better were always announced.
I can’t say today’s course was my favourite. I’m not a downhiller, even though my son is the current Junior National Champion. The skate through the Whistler Bike Park was a three-bike pile-up for me. The inverted lip of a pump found me in high gear with no oomph to get over it. Bailing but my clips wouldn’t let me. Crash. Then Australia piled into me and US I think it was after that. We managed to grab our bikes and shake off the bruises enough. I keep going. Next it’s the Lost Lake Trails. Pure single track. Good challenges. Then a big hill climb. I take to the downhill trail this time knowing we’re almost done. Today’s course being a mere 20 km. The same for the Epics. The least, besides the Prologue on Day 0 that we’ve had week.
So to ask the question what could possibly be improved upon for the BC Bike Race? Not sure, at the moment, that I know how to answer that.
I’ll be heading to the Banquet shortly. To say goodbye to everyone. To yack with South Africa a bit. And Calgary, the US, Belgium, Australia, maybe New Zealand, Switzerland and Boston and so on. We’ll find each other on the BC Bike Race Fan Page I’m sure. Or on the trails somewhere, some time. What a week.
As I walk back from the finish arch I see someone running and think to myself, maybe the half marathon next?

For more information on the BC Bike Race Challenge and Epic courses go to

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Glow Day!

Melanie McQuaid on the left (Leader of the Epic Course Solo Women), myself on the right. BEFORE I found out I'd podiumed!

The crowd near the results must of thought me a freak. I did one big happy dance when I took a glance at the postings. I so didn’t know what to expect.
The day started beautifully in Squamish. Us Challengers were to follow the Red Bull car up, up, up, and way up.
When my head popped up over the Red Bull to the sky I saw the forest range looming in the distance. Pretty high.
Challengers were told there was an Aid Station soon in on the course. It was about 30 minutes in. I popped off for a banana. Thinking I could pack it in my Bento Box, it was small enough. Grabbed some water and a few oranges and off I went.
In Victoria at Hartland aka the ‘Dump’ there is a new trail called Torpedo. Real pumpish. Super flowy for the dh’ers. Once we did a mash of climbing we entered into a longer Squamish version called the Half Nelson. Hootin’ and hollering it was a banger. Until the Epics rolled up. It was honking. Staying tight to one side I let them giver.
Felt a little out of control I have to say.
Once down we, you guessed it, did some more climbing then hit combos of rock gardens and gashin’ freakin’ switchbacks. Goal today, steady, have fun and remain tight.
We were told 30 kilometres for us today. Epics were doing 60.
Had the pleasure of being passed twice by the Epics. The likes of Wendy Simms, Melanie McQuaid, Andreas Hestler. I would roll to the side if it was a grinder so I didn’t slow them down.
Aid Station two, which I didn’t think there was one for us Challengers saw me quaffing a banana. Somewhere on the Half Nelson I’m sure I lost the one I’d picked up at the first stop. No surprise.
Surprisingly I felt really good. I’d taken some Wild Oregano Oil with me luckily as I’d been fighting the stomach flue for three days. Seemed to be back on track today. The climbing was fine. I didn’t beat myself up. My legs felt good. I went as steady as I could.
As usual I challenge myself (no pun intended) at the finish to gun it. I rolled over the line and once again thanked my bike. My new 2008 Devinci Moonracer. She took a lot of pounding out there. Tons of rock jumps. Once again, she got me home safe.
I take a shower then go and get her all cleaned up. Looking at the chain I do my best to clean it off. I’m technically challenged with anything mechanical on bikes, so ask around if what I’m doing is right. Everyone is super helpful. Especially the Obsession Bikes’ guys. I did a last minute pedal change this morning as I’d broken one of my Crank Brother clips. Riding 45 km with one clip sucked yesterday. Didn’t want to go there today.
Once I got the dirty work done and loaded her on the truck I went on the search for power. Sitting at the Mash tent my eyes caught the results postings up. I went to check. OMG. SECOND! SECOND! I podiumed!!!! I couldn’t believe it. I asked Dr. Wilson to go double check for me. He came back with a picture. Sitting fifth overall, with a second place finish in Day 6 of BC Bike Race Solo Women's Challenge course. I have to say, I’ve got a bit of a glow on right now!!!
Day 7 is at Whistler. This has been so much fun. Living like a Pro. It has gone so fast. On Day 0 President and Founder of BC Bike Race, Dean Payne said something to the effect, “Enjoy your biking camp.”
One gal from Australia claimed it was her holiday. We both agreed, we are a bit looney in the head to be doing what we’re doing and calling it a holiday.
Honestly I am loving every minute of it.

For more information on the BC Bike Race Epic and Challenge courses go to

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Long Flowy FUN!

“Please don’t make me stand up yet,” went through my head
as I sat under the Shimano tent waiting to be herded down to the Langdale ferry. I spent over five hours in the saddle today. It was truly Epic. Epic course, epic that I did it!
Got a chuckle this morning at breakfast when one of the Epic riders commented he was thinking maybe he’d move down to Challenge today. Problem was both of us were doing the same course. A knotty 45 kilometers of the gnarly Sunshine Coast. Vertical gain 5300 feet.
Happy Canada Day!
The clouds opened up before race start. I’d dawned my raincoat. At the last minute I thought I’d put in my Hot Shot toe warmers. It was cold. Worked great till we got to the creek crossing. No choice. Feet got wet.
I have to say, reflecting now, I enjoyed today’s course more then yesterday’s. Even with the increased vertical. The length though had me banging on the wall. I kept ‘er going. Kept thinking what my pal, Catherine had Facebooked me with last night, “One kilometer at a time, you’ll peel it off before you know it.”
I was also grateful for the two Aid Stations. Enough time to fuel up on bananas and top up water and off we go. At the second Aid Station, Rod the Course Designer assured us only two more kilometers of climbing and then it was all downhill.
You had to be on to do this course. Thankfully I felt better then I did yesterday as far as focus. Gassed, yes definitely. But somehow always in control.
Until the downhill ditch dig. Don’t know what I did but I ended up on my shoulder, bike along with me. Race plate scrunched. I got up, no major damage and thought, man I gotta get this done.
Pretty pleased I managed this amount of “K” on Day 5. Can’t believe we’re already heading into Day 6.
As I sat down at dinner talking up the day I got the racer’s thirst on. Please don’t make me stand up yet, rang in my head again. Young Paramedic and pal, Megan Thompson sensed my need. Energetically volunteering to stand up for me and get more water.
What a day. I have to say. What a day. Day 6 here we come.