Sunday, October 28, 2018

Farewell Crofton, Hello Parksville!

In 2016 when I tore the meniscus in my left knee, and 2017 when I took a bad fall on the ice and wrecked my right shoulder (leaving me unable to drive for quite a while, and permanently unable to do some of the home/yard maintenance stuff I'd always done for myself), I realized the pitfalls of living in a small village (population 1200) that has very few shops - two convenience stores, one thrift store, a couple of cafes and pubs.  No drug store, no hardware, no department store, no place to get any significant variety of groceries. No medical services.  Yes, there is a small city about twenty minutes away (population 5,000 for the city itself, and another 28,000 in the surrounding municipal area), but the bus service to get there is tedious and infrequent, taxis from there are expensive and seldom available, and there is no handi-dart service (a bus/taxi sort of system for seniors and others with disabilities) for Crofton.  And it is rather too far to walk.

"It's a long way to see the doctor...."

I don't want to be 'that senior' whose very small and geographically distant family has to make the difficult decision to move me to another living situation.  So I began the search for another home, one where there is no outside maintenance required (a condo or strata), in a place where there are more shops and services - preferably within walking distance of the ocean. I so love.

After an extensive search made more difficult by the ridiculous 'no pet' or 'one small pet' (often under 10 lbs!) policy that many seniors' condos/strata have, I finally just took the plunge, put my house on the market, sold it in 48 hours, and - much to my relief - found an appropriate place an hour and a bit north, in Parksville.  More about our new home in another post. (I have not been taking photos on our many walks as Maggie needs all my attention to keep her safe and calm amid traffic, beeping crosswalks, unfamiliar people and dogs, etc.   - that's no time to be staring through the lens of a camera.  As many of you know, there are few things I feel more strongly about than keeping dogs safe in new surroundings - or keeping dogs safe, period.) 

Maggie: "This is my beach now!"
(Photo taken a few months ago, before we moved)

But before shifting the blog to daily life in Parksville and our exploration of the parks and beaches around our new home, I wanted to thank the great people in Crofton who welcomed me nearly ten years ago, greeted me on my morning walks with my various old dogs, foster dogs, multiple dogs, scared dogs, visiting dogs.  My current anxiety-prone senior dog, Maggie, will miss her canine friends and their peoples, who respected her boundaries and took the necessary time to earn her trust.

Crofton has much going for it, not the least of which is its beauty - beauty in nature, in the sea, in the sunrises and sunsets, in the people.  Over the years, I've taken literally thousands of photos of this community and its surrounds.  Here, then, as my farewell tribute to Crofton, are just a few of my favourites:

From the moment  I arose,  no matter the season or the weather, the beauty of the sun rising over the bay filled me with awe:

Throughout the day, the birds and animals, the parks and shoreline, even the industry at the mill and log sort, provided me with slices of joy, peace, an assurance that there was still magic and beauty to be found in a world so oft gone crazy:

Eagle, Anna's humming bird, oystercatchers, Northern flicker.

Bear in fall and deer in winter

Heron soaring to the sky

Raven wishing us good luck

Crofton Lake, Sea Walk in fall, Eves Park, Lilies on Crofton Lake

Boat by a foggy pier
(taken when Spinnaker Steps went all the way to the water)

Boats in the harbour,
reflections in the water

Barges, tugs, and cargo ships

Fishing boat with colourful floats

The people - oh the people - young and old, laboring in fields or selling goods in front yards and pop up stalls, playing with their dogs, or going for a paddle around the bay or a walk on the beach - seldom did I meet one who did not treat me kindly, smile and say good morning, or stop for a chat.  I came to your town nearly ten years ago having only a slight acquaintance with a couple of people, and I am leaving behind many friends.  Thank you, Crofton.

Tatlo Farms when it was just beginning

Friends on Crofton waterfront

George peddling his figs near the ferry terminal

The dog-human connection
on a misty morning

Heading out into the bay

I have loved learning the history of this town - from the elders, from the information in our little museum, from columns in newspapers (and, before that, the town newsletter),  from story boards in parks, from locals who stopped to chat.  For five years, together with Liz Maxwell Forbes, I shared some of these stories in a column in the Chemainus Courier, and each column brought more stories to my attention, from more people who enriched my life so greatly.

Crofton Museum 

And at the end of each day, I felt comforted in the knowledge that  my move to Crofton, away from family and friends and all that was familiar, had been a good move, the right move,  a wonderful chapter of my life.  I can only hope that my new community will be as welcoming and as comforting and as full of good people who will soon become good friends, in this next chapter.

Thank you, Crofton,  You have been good to me.

We all sleep under the same moon,
We all rise to the same sun.
We are never any further away than a warm heart and a pleasant thought.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Allie, in fields of catnip

Yesterday, Allie made her final meow and headed off to the Rainbow Bridge.  A few days ago, she took to staying hidden under her blanket, occasionally eating or drinking a little if I took it to her, and seldom using her litter box.  I suspected she had slipped into the fourth and final stage of the kidney disease with which she was diagnosed well over a year ago.

Our mobile vet, who has looked after all my animals for most of my time on the island, sedated my Wild Child in order to examine her, and determined that her kidneys had atrophied to the size of peas and, of great significance, her temperature was well below normal.  The conclusion was that her organs were shutting down and at most she had a few more days.  As she was already sedated, I chose to have the vet help her pass right then.   She slipped away without stirring.

I adopted Allie from the Abbotsford SPCA back in 2001.  She wasn't much more than a kitten at that time - perhaps five or six months old - but she soon let the dogs know who was boss.  Her favourite trick throughout her lifetime (and the lifetimes of at least a dozen or more adopted and fostered dogs with whom she shared our house) was to hide behind a piece of furniture or crouch on the arm of the sofa and wait for a dog to nonchalantly saunter past, then - whooop - swat said dog right on the rump with her not-so-gentle paws!

We all know who's the boss around here!

When we first adopted her, we lived on acreage where field mice occasionally found there way into the house.  Allie liked mice - she liked to play with them, swatting them this way and that.  But she never killed them.  It would be up to me to try to get them away from Allie and banish them from our residence.  One time, she chased a mouse up onto the washer, then swatted it down to my dog Charley who was standing below.  Charley promptly plopped her furry collie cross body down right on top of the terrified mouse and held it there while I reached under to grab it.  Great tag team those two made!

Caleb, my pitty cross, almost got the better of Allie, as his strong prey drive and her rather slight size were not a good match.  Adding a door to the foot of the stairs, and a cat door in the people door, allowed Allie to race up to the attic where she had a huge area to run and play and a chair to scratch and toys to toss.  Caleb sometimes stuck his head in the cat door, looking miserably up the stairs, and willing her to walk right into his mouth.  It took three months of constant management before the two could safely be in the same room without Caleb being off leash or out of his crate. A few sharp swats of Allie's claws on Caleb's butt or face, and he eventually learned to give her space.  They were never left together when I wasn't right there with them, but they did learn to have a healthy respect for each other. 
Respect me, or else! 

Allie could never be described as a 'sweet' cat - she was a petite and pretty torti with a lovely peach patch under her chin which she liked me to stroke (on her own terms, of course), but she was not a warm-and-fuzzy lapcat by any means.  Fifteen minutes of lap time in the morning, possibly a bit more at night and that was quite enough for her thank you.  Oh....except for when I was at my computer.  Then she was on my lap constantly - blocking my view, stepping on keys, 'helping' compose blogs.

Hey mom, let's write about how stoopid dogs are!

An inside-only cat all her life, she didn't seem to mind at all.  She had lots of interactive toys,  interesting birds to watch through the window, and, of course, dogs to torment.  One of the very few times she slipped out - shortly after we moved to the island - she hopped over the fence and right into the yard of a neighbour's three barking, cat-chasing dachshunds.  Never have I seen a cat fly back over a five foot fence and in through the patio door so quickly!  I think that cured her of any wanderlust. 

Oh, look, a birdie! 

She had a big personality, a powerful self-confidence, an unpredictable response to those who might try to befriend her - or to examine her.  She drew blood from more than one veterinarian or vet tech.  The critters at the Rainbow Bridge won't know what hit them!

As long as they don't try to dress me up in silly costumes - and remember that cats rule -
we'll get along fine! 

But perhaps the Bridge will mellow her.  I hope she is, as a friend wrote on my facebook page,  "in sunlit meadows of catnip, with dancing butterflies to caper after."

Run free, Allie.  You kept me on my toes for nigh on 18 years.  My home won't be the same without you.

Aren't I sweet?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Just putting these here.... you don't think I've moved to another planet.  I haven't finished selecting and editing the Saratoga photos (though I've whittled the 400 or so down to about 40), and I've been busy getting ready for the move (9 more sleeps), and Allie is not doing well right now (kidney failure, may be in final stage now), but I did pop over to a friend's place for a Thanksgiving lunch (Pat and the Poms - they served a stew baked inside a pumpkin that was both seasonal and delicious!) and spent an hour photographing Parker, the newest addition to their family.  Since those photos weren't as numerous and really didn't need any editing, I'll post them here to give you something to look at while you have your morning coffee. 

And in case you wondered what that stew-in-a-pumpkin looked like, here it is:

I'm very thankful for friends like Pat, who make me laugh, listen to me babble on about moving, come on mini vacations with me, hike with me, and share my love of dogs.....oh, and feed me great food and send me home with leftovers!  Thanks, Pat.

And I'm thankful for my blog readers, who tolerate my long absences and who give me a welcoming audience for my stories and photos.  Happy Thanksgiving!