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Archive for June, 2012

I was back in town for a few days to proudly watch my Biggest Urchin receive his high school diploma, and Cottager and I took advantage of a break in the really disappointing June weather we’ve been experiencing to get out for a ride on the PoCo Trail.

Tents and a hive of activity in the community garden area of Colony Farm Regional Park attracted our attention, and we stumbled on to loveliest festival I have attended in a very long time. In cooperation with Metro Vancouver (formerly GVRD), the Public Dreams Society was hosting their fourth annual Midsummer Fête.

No rumbling chip vans or carnival rides here. It was like falling through a rabbit hole into a gentler time: Whimsical costumes, quirky activities, un-fraught people and a lovely, pastoral setting. This is an event worth putting on your calendar. Not to be missed.

My favourite part was a performance by the Legion of Flying Monkeys. These folks know how to have fun. They sang about their annual Clown Parade, held in Gastown each December.  I looked it up to find participation is by invitation.  Dear LFM:  Please invite me to be in your clown parade!  I sing loudly and occasionally on key. Deep in my heart, there is a clown desperate to make itself known to the world in a safe and supportive environment.

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Cool costumes and unique art installations abounded.

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The OWL rehabilitation society had a saw whet owl and a golden eagle on display.

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We played croquette.  The balls were furry and had eyes (hedghogs?) and the pleasant pheasant pictured explained that we had to choose a course through safe wickets or past predators (herons and coyotes) Cottager played it safe and was victorious.

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Younger visitors made straw dolls by stuffing onesies.

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When I arrived at the cottage two days ago, I found a Steller’s Jay – the provincial bird of British Columbia – resting on my deck. She fluttered to the railing and watched as I ferried multiple loads from the car to the cottage.  Her feather’s were puffed up and she was hunched over. She looked at me as if she knew help had arrived.

I quickly put out some bird seed and my new Valu Village find – a bird bath.  She had a few bites and drank a considerable amount of water, then hopped down and strolled towards my shed.  Her mate took over her spot at the feeder.

Not a very happy bird

“This bird can’t fly,” thought I.  So I called the Gibsons Wildlife Rehab Centre.  This volunteer- run organization sent Barbara Lee Fraser along within an hour, by which time Stella had made her way into a tree. We lured her down with peanuts and suet, and Barbara proceeded to herd that bird through the front garden and into the wilderness that is my backyard, waiting for the right moment to drop her net.

Before long Stella was safe in her arms and then in a transport cage on her way to Rehab.

I called this morning for an update, and it seems she has some puncture wounds under her wing, and they are cleaning them  frequently to prevent dried blood from gumming up her feathers. She can’t fly yet, but they are hopeful she will.

The volunteers at the Centre are also concerned about the colour of her feet, and are conducting tests today to see if she has a fungus problem.  It seems she is receiving very good care.

When she is ready to be released, she will be returned to Keats View Cottage to rejoin her mate, who is staying very close. I bought a bag of peanuts on the theory that males of many species can be distracted from their troubles by food. It seems to be working.

I don’t know for certain that Stella is a gal. The folks at the rehab centre tell me it is difficult to determine gender of a Steller’s Jay, but they are calling the bird Lisa in my honour.  It’s very sweet, but when she comes home it will get darn confusing if there are two of us with the same name, so Stella it shall be.

Please keep your cats inside and consider making a donation to the Gibsons Wildlife Rehab Centre to help them continue on with their excellent work.  I know I will.

Stanley Kowalski is staying clean and fit in anticipation of Stella’s return

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Spring in the Kootenays: High water and lupins

I believe it’s good – every now and then – to push “Pause” and do an all-points inspection of yourself and your life. When actually forced to do this, about a year ago, I came to the conclusion that a personal retreat was in order. I have latched on to current events and dubbed my retreat my “Jubilee Year Celebration.”

It isn’t easy to pull this off. It required planning. Cottager came on board right away. My employer agreed, last November, to allow me eight weeks leave on an income averaging arrangement. I want to give my full attention, through this period, to the things that really matter to me.

So the first thing I did was make a visit, along with my sister, to my parents in the Kootenays.  We stayed five days, helping out a little bit around their property, but really just enjoying their company. Our usual visits involve husbands, children and pets and can seem rushed or chaotic. It was so pleasant to just hang out.

The second thing I did was make some quality time with my own family. It’s hard, with both urchins in school and working, but we did it.  We spent a night in a hotel near Seattle; visited the Woodland Park Zoo (we’re all bonkers for animals); had great Mexican food, and went shopping at the Outlets.  These are four things we all enjoy. Along the way we had a lot of laughs and some great conversations.  My guys are just amazing men.

And today I’ve moved on to Stage Two, taking up residence at Keats View Cottage for the next month in order to pursue personal goals which never seem to find time and space in my day-to-day life.

These goals fall roughly into two groups: Creativity and Wellness.

My creative goals include indulging a desire to immerse myself, however briefly, in a creative writing process.  Sub goals are to make a small quilt and to work an hour or two in the garden each day so as to move beyond simply trying to beat back nature.  Quite honestly, the quilt may just be wishful thinking.

On the wellness front, I aspire to get 8 hours of sleep each night, exercise, eat well, and make a daily practice of stress-reduction techniques. It’s a tall order, but I like tall things, and I am determined to give this a try.

Follow along and I will let you know how it goes.

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