Fill in the blank Friday Johnson style, miscellaneous

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Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off


Whimsical Wednesday: A Day Off

The Sun woke me earlier than I had hoped this morning but it is hard to complain about sunshine. I had arranged to meet my friend Kim at the bakery, and then we would hike Mt. Parke. I was ready for a break, needed to be away from the kids and be out of the house. Gus and I walked down to the bakery, I grabbed a pastry and sat outside. Kim is a wonderful woman I met on the island about ten years ago when our kids were all in a day camp the island had. Her daughter Jas is Isaac’s age, but Jessie and she bonded and became fast friends.

Now when I come to the island she is someone I seek out. We walk and talk and have a friendship built on intimate moments together in a short time, while we are both on island. They have just finished building their home out by the light house and it is beautiful. Kim and her family live in a suburb of Vancouver and also ‘Summer’ on Mayne. It has been a wonderful to have a friend and kindred spirit on the island to look forward to seeing.

We loaded Gus into her car and drove to the trail head. This particular climb brings you to the top of the island and the views are incredible. It is always a must do on my list when we come to the island, and the chance to hike, spend time with a dear friend, exercise, and get space from my wonderful children was just what I needed. We caught up on each others year, shared our hearts, moaned about getting older, having teenagers and finding time for ourselves. It was perfect.

The view from the top is breathtaking. You look out over the water to other islands, ferries, and other boat traffic, mountains in the far distance, and eagles soaring below you. It is hard for me to believe that there is anything any more beautiful anywhere on earth. We finished the hike, and had a wonderful lunch on her deck. Life is good and a day off is just what the doctor ordered.






Day six on my Island, My cup runneth over


As I enjoy another sunset on my island I am overcome to the point of tears. It has been a perfect day and my heart is full. My sister and her husband who have not been here for many years sit in front of the lighthouse while my three teenage boys jump from log to log, and rock to rock, trying to out run our dog Gus. They push, shove, and scare each other, try to be King of the rock and basically act like the kids they are. It is a freedom the island offers that is like no other place I have ever been.

We have just had dinner at the oldest building on the Island. The Spring Water Lodge. It sits just above the main public dock with flowers overflowing and a perfect view of the ferry’s passing through. It is a long-standing tradition to have dinner here once while we are on the island. We sit on the deck and enjoy good food while laughing and watching the activity on the dock and water. It is extra special because the last time Kathi was here was for my grandmother’s funeral. We sat on this very deck and drank a toast to one of the most amazing women in our lives.

Before dinner we had been sorting through pictures at the house. History captured of lives well lived and a how a house became a home. As I have moved so often in my life, this is the one place that has remained constant since I was born. This is my true north. To share this place with family and friends is a highlight of my life. It is like gathering all the people I love and giving them a piece of my heart. If I can share my island, I can give away the best of who I am, I can share the beauty and joy that fills my soul and in giving it away, my cup runneth over.






Day four on my Island, frustration


Today, day four on my Island we experienced the down side of being so far away from civilization. One of the reasons we came to the island this summer was to clean up our cabin and the property. The biggest project by far is the deck. It is a large beautiful deck that stretches along the entire side of the house. It has become a slippery, mossy, mildew disaster. When it is wet, and that is quite often up here in the beautiful North West, it is a wasteland that can not be used and a sure liability for any one who attempts to walk on it.

The three boys are here to wire scrub the entire deck, and restore it to its original wood and beauty. It is not a glamorous job, it is hard work on your knees pushing gross sledge. We do not have a hose, so it is washed off with buckets of water filled in the sink then carried out to the deck. Two hours of hard scrubbing back-breaking work on your knees is the most we ask in one day. While filling these buckets with water we became aware of a leak in the faucet. This was not a good thing.

I finish making lunch for everyone, the boys get sent out to trim the trees and dad and I tackle the leak. Now, my dad is seventy-five. He is in fairly good shape and can still do just about anything he wants to. I am almost forty-five and in fairly good shape, but getting on your back and into a cabinet to work on a sink that was installed in the sixty’s is not fun. We decide that it is not the pipes but the faucet and set about to take it out and replace it. This was the beginning of a very frustrating day.

I get the water turned off and the hoses detached, this takes a little work, a few swear words, some dripping water and dirt in the eyes. I then look at what we have to do to get the rest of the faucet out and I cringe. Now I am not a plumber, but I have replaced a faucet, and I know this is not what I have seen before. I ask for a wrench and nothing we have is big enough for the hexagon shaped bolt that is sealing the faucet to the sink. My dad has me move out and looks for himself. He has a similar reaction.

We spend the afternoon between the one hardware store on the island, and underneath the sink. Nothing works, the bolt will not budge. It is in an awkward spot with no room for maneuvering. After trying every position and every tool we can buy or borrow we now have a kitchen sink that does not work and a frustration level that is extremely high for both my dad and me, as we know what needs to be done, we know the new faucet will go in fast and easy but we are stuck trying to get this damn bolt off with no success.

I wash the dishes in the bathtub, we make a phone call to someone who might be a plumber on the island and we sink in our defeat(pun intended). We can not just run to home depot and ask for the right tool, if indeed there is one. We can not look in the yellow pages and keep calling until someone says they will help. My dad goes to sleep disgusted with himself for not being able to do it himself, and probably very sore from getting up and down off the floor and contorting his body in weird shapes to try to fix something that should not be this hard to do!

No man is an island, and today I wished for the first time I could have the best of both worlds, which is why this island is not a city, I guess. Most of us can not deal with the idiosyncrasies of island life. We have far too much to do in far too little time to be able to handle very many days like today. Still the ferry horn sounds, the sun warms my sore muscles and my kids are learn vesting their time and muscles into an inheritance that they hopefully one day will share with their children and grandchildren. Washing the dishes in the tub is not that bad after all.




Day three on my island, Sunny Mayne Bakery


Another sunny morning on my island. Christian, my dad and I, walk down to the bakery for breakfast. On any given morning there will be an eclectic mix of people gathered here. A mixed group of thirty something’s talk about the organic produce available and what is freezes well and what does not. A mother and her young son come out of the bakery with an ice cream cone though it is only nine in the morning. His huge smile lights up the whole porch eating area, and no one who sees him can help but smile.

The one group you can always count on is the group of old men sitting around shooting the breeze. These codgers have been meeting for as long as the bakery has been open. The numbers and the players change but from what I can tell the conversation rarely does. The weather, a few jokes, a comment about the coffee. A complaint about the ferry schedule and “eh?” between each comment.

I think sometimes I am in the movie “Groundhog’s Day” where every day repeats itself. There is a comfort in the repetitive style of the island, a reassuring sense that the world though moving very quickly, stays, in some places, at a pace that is manageable. Drink coffee, breathe, have ice cream for breakfast, repeat.




The Island day 2: communication



I have always felt when on the island time seems to slow down. It takes on a surreal atmosphere and moments become memories right before my eyes. We have no phone and in order to post my blog I go to the library and sit outside where I can pick up the wireless signal. There is one spot on the island which faces the United States where if I stand in just the right place I get my Sprint signal and can make phone calls from my
phone without it costing me for an international call. I tried to Skype with Scott last night but the signal was not strong enough and we kept freezing up.

This is wonderful in so many ways, it forces me off the grid and be present in the moment. We can text without any extra cost so that is the bulk of our communication. About 4:30 this afternoon after the boys had worked on the deck, my dad had arrived and I was taking a small nap my phone beeped with the following text: “Jessie just called and her knee is messed up. She does not think she can do NBC camp. We need to let them know and make alternate plans. How can we get her to the island ? I’m sad for her but she is having an amazing time.” My text back was “Shit.”

Jessie is our youngest of the four kids. She is our only girl. She is with her youth group on a trip to DC. Jessie called before I got to the Canadian border on Sunday to say she had tweaked her knee, but she was icing it and taking Advil and would be fine. That may have been true if she was home and being taken care of by her doting parents but since she was on the other side of the country I told her to suck it up, stick it out and have as much fun as possible. The leaders told me she was being a trooper and they were doing everything possible to help her to rest it. The problem is they walk everywhere, and they are putting about ten to fifteen miles a day on their feet as they have no other transportation. They are trying to get her a wheelchair whenever possible but…

Now I am in Canada, I have a child that is hurt on the other side of another country and no easy way to communicate with her. I talk it through with my dad, come up with a plan and go to the beach where I can call Scott. It of course can all be worked out. I got the chance to talk to Jessie and she truly is having the time of her life. It hurts her but she can not fully rest it and thinks basketball camp might be a bit much. We laugh a bit and I am soothed by her voice and saddened by the maturity in it. Jessie wants to stay the rest of the week, she will try not to push it too hard and she can rest when she gets here.

Now the sun is setting as I sit on the base of the light house of day number two on the island. I listen to my three teenage boys laugh and call to each other as they race across the rocks and throw the tennis ball for Gus. Life is never quite the way we plan it. Thank God.







Day one on the Island



Day one on the Island

I awoke to the sound of a ferry horn, and sunshine streaming through the trees outside my window. I rolled over and was surprised to see that it was seven. I texted with my sweet husband and then I rolled over again and was back asleep for another hour. Vacation has begun.

Besides being here at the cabin to soak up the extra hours of sleep, restore my state of mind and read a few books, the boys and I have quite a few projects to accomplish. For about twelve years we have had an amazing woman living in the cabin. She stayed rent free but was responsible for the up keep of the house, and needed to find somewhere else to stay when our family would use it. It was a win-win situation and Tina became a very important part of our family.

In December of 2011 she moved to a new home that she and her friend/ love interest/ past roommate built together on the island. Tina is an artist and a bit of a free spirit. She was also a pack rat and the house was stuffed corner to ceiling with books, artifacts, art being worked on, art finished, and art abandoned for another time. She had been given the bigger of the two bedrooms, and of course most of the cabinets and drawers, as we were only there 8 weeks out of the whole year. She also had furniture and knickknacks of her own which made the cabin a bit cramped for space.

This is my first trip to the cabin after she has moved out. I get the honor of making it the Medcalf home once more. I get to pick out what of my grandmas pictures we want to hang, where the furniture will go and create the spirit of our ancestors while bringing it into the twenty-first century. I am thrilled.

I started in the back bedroom where we have put most of our stuff. When my grandma died, my sisters and I did a huge clean up, go through the house, have a garage sale thing. What we have left is a small smattering of china, art, books and memorabilia. Still it takes time to go through, clean up, dust off, and decide what we want to keep and what we are willing to give away. Not to mention the drawers full of pictures, slides, and letters we chose not to deal with earlier.

It feels good to be productive and we did get the back room done. The book-case that had been ready to fall down was taken out thanks to my handy and strong boys. The queen bed was moved into the bigger empty bedroom, and things rearranged to make room for the twin beds that have been ordered. I sorted through thousands of pictures and though it was difficult threw out the vast majority. My biggest suggestion for all you photographers out there is labeling people, giving specific dates, and location are by far the most important thing you can do for anyone who loves you.

I’d say it was a productive day, still made it to the beach for Gus to chase his ball and Isaac to show off his rock skipping talent. The more physical work is coming but today I celebrate the gift of having the home be the Medcalf Passview in a more physical form than it has in a long, long, time