Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mr. Space and the Alien

Mr. Toast and the Toester

 This is John wearing the Mr. Toast t-shirt made for him by 8-year old Rosalie. It was perfect because soon after he opened his gift from me & Dan.

Here is the Toester that we made. I've been thinking about this since last Christmas when I knit the above featured Toast Mittens. I took a block of foam, some velvet and fleece, and went at it. Dan helped with some steel welding rod, the final finishing and painting the name on. The lever on the end was knit by me. (Note: if ever you would like to custom order something like this for purchase, do get in contact, we are happy to do it).


Mr. Toast's birthday is two days after Christmas so the girls made him a birthday cake in the shape of toast. It was a toasty Christmas!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

insert content here

Hi there friends,

Yes yes I'm feeling terribly guilty for not having posted in several days. Please be advised that until yesterday, we had a houseful of people for five days and was therefore busy with, you know, Christmas. Then we needed a bit of down time. Today I had an interview for a job in Tofino, will find out if I got it on January 4th at the earliest. Alas, another part time casual, but it could lead to something more regular.

I have a ton of photos to post, particularly of the Toester and the UFO, but they will have to wait for another day. In the mean time, I am going to Stitch Night in Tofino tonight, will go to bed as soon as I get home, sleep in tomorrow, then get cracking at all the catch-up stuff. We have friends coming to stay for New Year's Eve (only for one night, sadly).

I do look forward to reconnecting in the coming weeks as I have some big projects that I'm about to launch and can't wait to tell you about them.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

found photos of fabulous frog from first family festivus

The frog that began it all. 2007 was the start of where I really took off with my knitting. Dan said Hilary likes frogs, she could use a tea cosy! And so it began. Each year I make one or two (sometimes three) fairly large projects. Wait till you see what this year's projects are...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Next Blog >>

Have you ever noticed at the top of this page there is a button for you to have a look at other people's random blogs? It's an interesting thing to check out. You never know what you will find - young engineers from India, a cancer survivor, new parents, students, people just trying to get by in life. Sometimes I just poke around and randomly follow these links.

Just another one of those Interesting Cultural Experiences...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

an early morning offload

The following photos were taken a few weeks ago, when I had an offload beginning at 8:00am. It was a crisp clear cold morning, and I was concerned about having to climb the slippery ladder down to the vessel before and after the offload could begin.

The nice thing about being up at that early is the sunrise. What is normally a not so pretty view can look sort of spectacular given the right light. Here are some snaps of that moment.

The first one is taken from one fish plant looking south at the fish plant directly south of it.
The second photo is taken from the dock, looking north.

Here two of the guys are managing the pump. They pump water from the ocean in to facilitate the large vacuum sucking the fish out of the hold and into the hopper where the fish will be sorted by species.

The ladder I was afeared [sic] of climbing. I made sure there was someone nearby to at least notice if I fell into the water. Not sure what would be worse - dying of hypothermia or drowning.

I was halfway up the ladder after being on the vessel when I noticed how pretty the pillars here looked at low tide.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

some photos from the last Tofino Stitch Night

Juliet is the shop dog at Knits by the Sea. It was her birthday yesterday and Ellie announced this on the shop's blog.

Juliet is so excited when you walk in the store. She knows that you are coming to see her. So please do give her a scratch, she will reward you with the wagging of her tail and perhaps some puppy kisses.

Juliet wore a dress for the Grand Opening Party in July, wore a Christmas suit for Jingle Into Christmas, and is so used to wearing sweaters now that, the other night when she was on my lap and I was knitting my poncho, she walked right into it.

Photos taken with my iPhone...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

bring your own popcorn

So I recently signed up for Freecycle for both Port Alberni as well as the Tofino/Ucluelet area. Tomorrow I will pick up the new-to-me Nordic Track elliptical trainer that someone didn't want when they moved into the house they just bought. Score!

Then the other night I saw a message offering up the old seats from the Tofino Community Theater. I called upstairs asking Dan if he wanted some theater seats.

YES was his response. Okay then... We went the next day. They had seven banks of four seats. They were bloody heavy, we were able to fit four into the back of our truck. They were also quite awkward because not only were they heavy; they were snake-like in their modular assembly. (Dan later discovered it would have been way easier to move if we had disassembled them before transport). One of these sets was bound for the new coffee roastery, the other three came home with us. Dan hinted at wanting to go back and get the other three but, after moving these behemoths, I said No.

We have heard now in the last few days that the seats were not very comfortable. When we brought them home, Dan took them apart to see how they are constructed (and to repair a few), and discovered they were assembled backwards. These seats easily have another 50 years in them (they are 49 years old) - the reason they were uncomfortable was because the chairs tilted slightly forward instead of slightly back.

With The Family coming for Christmas, we now have seating for double the capacity we are expecting (unless of course YOU come join us for Christmas dinner?) We don't know where these theater chairs will end up but this large house we've rented sure is filling up. If only we had some shelving...

Newspaper article about knitting

I was interviewed for and featured in an article about knitting in the area. Check it out!

Knit your art out

The interview was conducted by email, though I follow Stefania on Twitter. She mostly used the text I provided verbatim.


Monday, December 6, 2010

The credentialization of work: a rant

I know, I made up that word. But I'm irritated...

I have a lot of education under my belt. I have spent almost ten years of my adult life in an academic institution. I have an English degree and an M.Sc. in Health Information Science. I am a part of that generation that felt lied to about 'get a university degree, you'll get a job'.

I'm living in this small community that all but shuts down for the winter, and I can't find work. There is a smattering of jobs here and there with the local health authority and with some of the resorts, but I don't have my Foodsafe certification so I am not 'qualified' to handle food (I spent six years working at McDonald's in an era that predated such certifications, I'm pretty sure they invented Foodsafe). I can't get a job in any sort of health related office because I don't have my Medical Office Assistant certificate, or my Medical Terminology certificate.

I am not averse to retraining. In fact, just now I was poking around at Pharmacy Tech programs in BC. It seems there are two: Selkirk College in Castlegar (an online program) and Vancouver Community College. It would take about two years to complete.

Then I thought I'd look at what the colleges on the Island have to offer. Camosun no longer has Pharmacy Tech. Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina) has no such program. North Island College has the Medical Office Assistant (which requires Medical Terminology), but before you can get into that program you need the generic Office Assistant program.

I looked into the courses for this and it has things like Keyboarding (yawn), How to Use the Internet (are you kidding me?) and other things that I have long been adept with.

So what pisses me off is that there has become a standard in so many industries where you have to have a certain piece of paper that says you know how to do this Thing or that Thing. Even if you already know how, or are qualified to teach the course, the job requires the piece of paper. Is this something that happens everywhere? It seems rampant in British Columbia. I have already spent something like $70,000 on my post-secondary education and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay another $80 so I can serve food in a restaurant.

This is the reason that people like me get this excellent training and then don't work in our fields: I am very intelligent but I don't fit into any pigeon holes. I am also unwilling to pay more to get certification for things I know how to do.

It is so disheartening and demeaning to be in this position, to feel like I'm highly qualified to do things but not be able to find work. I'm sure lots of the places I've applied to around here haven't called me because I'm 'overqualified'.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

today's adventures: Port Alberni


It's always so exciting to go to town. When you live out here, you ask your people if they need anything from 'town'. They have more than one grocery store! A Canadian Tire! Restaurants that are open year round!

It's amazing what becomes exciting when you live in a remote community that only sees lots of people in the summer.

The weather wasn't too bad heading out. There is always concern about The Pass: Sutton pass, which is about 400 m, I think. At the north end of Kennedy Lake, as we were in the twisties of narrow road between the lake and the vertical rock face, we saw a black bear on the road and a semi approaching in an oncoming lane. Panic! But the bear ran away, there was no roadkill (or damage to vehicles), and our journey continued.

I was surprised at the amount of snow on the hills. The roads have been plowed, and ever since the two paramedics died on this road last month, the federal government has kicked in money to make sure this road remains clear all through the winter, 24/7.

It was around Sproat Lake and approaching Town that we ran into fog. Not literally, of course, you can't just run into fog. I'm sure there's a fantasy novel beginning with fog.

Anyhoo, I arrived at the college for my testing. I was to interview later in the morning for the Library Assistant position but first had to take the Microsoft Word and Excel testing. The job only requires a basic understanding of how to use these programs, but the testing software tests for all levels. I did very well, of course, since I am quite familiar with both programs. I had about 45 minutes between finishing the tests and the start of my interview.

I had been to the Port Alberni campus of North Island College once before, a long time ago, in another lifetime, it seems. It is with NIC that I began my post-secondary journey back in 1995, and was a student until I moved to Victoria to go to UVic in 1998. I was involved with the student movement then, so had occasion to go to Port Alberni for a meeting. It's been - what - 12 years? 13?

While I was waiting for my interview, I hung out in the smallish cafeteria. Was surprised to see a gal there studying in her pajamas. Ordered a coffee and breakfast sandwich, then settled into knitting socks.

Aside: I took up knitting socks the day after Christmas last year and ripped through several skeins of yarn and landed something like eight pairs of socks from my favourite sock book. Then I totally lost my sock mojo. They took too long, other quicker projects held my interest. Away with socks. Well, after all this Christmas knitting and knitting sale items, I decided it was time to return to the socks. So I did. I have accomplished three inches of my 2-at-a-time socks in the last two days, mighty pleased with myself

(return to main story)

Time for the interview. I feel it went very well and I hope I do get to work with these ladies. I had occasion to talk about my knitting (yay!) and ask about the instructors I had back in the mid 1990s. I learned that I am one of two people being interviewed, that they may well offer the job to both applicants. This was encouraging. Then they asked if they could forward my CV to other departments that need sessional instructors: International Studies, Nursing, Human Service Worker. Yes! Of course! I would be happy to drive to the Comox Valley (somehow, I'll figure that out later) if it would mean getting experience teaching at a post-secondary institution and actually using my expensive education. I was going to ask/suggest/mention (but forgot - rats!) that I could also teach English courses at the NIC satellite campus in Ucluelet. You never know what could happen.

Before we left this morning, I checked my Susan Miller December 2010 horoscope and was rather encouraged by my career prospects in the next two months.

Dan picked me up after the interview, and we went to RHM Subs - a new (?) donair shop in this unassuming building. Dan was super impressed, I thought it was okay. I don't think I've ever actually had a donair before, so the experience may have been lost on me. O well.

Next we headed to Fairways for our beloved Asian food products. Nori! Sweet Chili sauce! Sesame seeds!

After watching the coffee documentary the other day, I am now paying more attention to the coffee sources and Fair Trade logos. With friends about to launch their coffee roastery, I am also paying attention to local roasteries. (Sorry this came out sideways, it's horizontal in my file??) I hadn't happened upon this one before, but my roasteristas (my word) have.

Later we went to Quality Foods. Did they only recently open? When we went there early last month, it seemed they were a fairly new store and therefore had lots of great sales. We must have spent $20 on British candy alone. (Today we carefully avoided that aisle). But then I saw something else very interesting.

I like Karma Coffee, I think they have a good thing going. In fact, until I discovered they aren't producing Fair Trade coffee, they were my current favourite. It made me wonder though, how much did they offer Quality Foods to showcase their product like this? Obviously they are trying to promote localism, which I think is a good thing.

So food stuff. Dan and I admitted that even though we really shouldn't be spending extra money on frivolous food right now, we sort of can't stop ourselves. Dan calls us Foodies. I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with that designation, though I do appreciate good food. It just feels a little to pretentious for me. Not that I equate foodieness with pretention, I just don't feel that the title fits me.

So, after The Season of Culinary Indulgence that lies before us is over, we will put ourselves on a food budget and try to limit some things in our diet. This can only be a good thing for our health, of course, and our wallet too.

That was a digression, oops. Back to the story...

After groceries we swung by OhSweetie's house to collect a few items she had offered, then off to Serious Coffee to meet an old friend.

Good old Facebook. It's great for reuniting you with people you haven't seen or heard from in a long time and would like to see again. This old friend was instrumental in my becoming an activist in the student movement in the 90s. Though he is younger than me, he was politically my senior and mentored me through those years. We were colleagues and friends, adventuring to far-flung places like Renfrew, Ontario and St. John's, Newfoundland for AGMs of the CFS. O the memories. We were young and idealistic and just getting our chops in playing politics.

I moved on from NIC to the University of Victoria Students' Society when I transferred to UVic. I served one term as director at large, then joined with the CUPE activists when I got hired at the Greater Victoria Public Library. Not long after that, my days of student activism faded to the past.

That was many years ago now, lots has happened in the mean time. (I went to Asia for two years, my sister got married and had two kids, I went back to school, got half of a second Bachelor's degree and then an M.Sc., got married myself, took up knitting, have visited the US five times, moved to the west coast...) So when I found my old friend Rob on Facebook and saw he again lived in Port Alberni, well, we simply had to have coffee.

I always like these moments of meeting up with someone I haven't seen in a long time. Usually it's a good thing (occasionally there is an awkward we-have-nothing-in-common-anymore moment) and I have that realization that some things never change. There is a comfort in that.

The day was galloping on, so soon after Dan came to pick me up, we said our farewells to Rob, then headed for Canadian Tire. They had houseplants on sale!

Ah, houseplants.

I have long wanted to be one of those people who has lots of houseplants. I love houseplants, but have never been in a place that had good space/light for houseplants, or stayed long enough in one place to feel like I could settle into having them. We did move here with a few, some of them evens survived the journey. Three, to be precise. Two succulents and a cactus. And then with all our uncertainty about staying/going, we didn't want to acquire any. But now that we're pretty sure we'll be here a while, we bought - how many? - nine plants? If I can get myself coordinated, I'll introduce you (via photos).

Then it was time to go home. Start our long 1.25 hour drive through The Pass and towards the Ocean. We got home just before six (having left this morning at 7:30), got the fire going, and settled in to unpacking our groceries and making dinner. (Ha! Dan did all that, I sat on the couch with a hot bag on my back, sore from hauling firewood the last two days, and I knit on the socks).

I signed up for freecycle in Port Alberni last week, and just as we got home a message arrived with an offer of a free elliptical trainer. Oooh! Oooh! Me! Me! I messaged the woman right away and won my prize! So the next time we go to Town, I'll have the machine that will cancel any excuse I would have about exercising in bad weather. And boy do I need it.

So, yeah, it was a good day. :-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I have just done two things.

1) learned how to embed HTML gadgets into my blog

2) watched a documentary on coffee.

See, some friends of mine are getting a coffee roastery going, which is pretty darn exciting, and I love coffee. And when I'm interested in something, usually one of the first things I do is go to the library website and see what comes up when the topic of my whim is entered.

There were at least a dozen books about Starbucks, as you might imagine. None of them are authorized, as far as I can tell, but it is, I think, notable that coffee and Starbucks seem to be synonymous.

Now I admit, I do like Starbucks coffee. I am aware that they do not participate in the Fair Trade movement. My only excuse - no - I have two excuses. Starbucks has been, in my most recent past, convenient. My other is that, well, there aren't that many options for decent coffee around here.

Which is why the good people at Stellar Coffee are so exciting to have as friends. If I play my cards right, I get to be their unofficial dark roast taster. They have a great lineup of coffee coming, fairly traded, that supports the communities in which their coffee is produced. I'm not going to give away the story here, because it's not mine to give, but suffice it to say that now that I've watched this video Black Gold , I will feel a lot better knowing where my coffee comes from and that it was produced and procured in an ethical manner. This movie is available for free, runs 87 minutes, and can be watched online. If you drink coffee I encourage you to watch this film. You know I don't get political all that much, at least not here, but from now on I'll be making a point of buying African, wherever I can.

why social media is great

The family member I'm knitting an alien for will probably never read this so it's safe to tell you about the flying saucer/UFO colour dilemma.

Dan helped me with the design of it, but when it got to choosing a colour, I was sure I was going to make the flying saucer grey. Dan told me that 'red is traditional'.


According to whom?

People who reads science fiction novels, he says.

(I don't read science fiction novels)

So I put it to Twitter and Facebook and a few friends via text messaging. The results were a resounding 13 votes in favour of silver/grey, two for red, one for black, one for blue.

Then I did a Google image search - they were greens and reds and some had stripes. So I'm going to knit it grey with a red stripe. And it will be cool,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Random story about Korean culture

Insert random photo here:

Ha! I was fermenting this idea for a blog post earlier today, and wanted to put in some random photo from my Blog Fodder file, when I found this photo of the kimchi that Dan made earlier this fall.

What is kimchi? It is pickled fermented spicy vegetable, usually a kid of cabbage. There are literally thousands of kinds of kimchi and probably lots of kimchi festivals in Korea.

I lived in Korea from August 2002 to September 2003. It took me something like ten months to come around to liking the taste of kimchi. Then felt I had to make up for lost time. If you like meat and fish, then Korean is culinary heaven. I *loved* the food there. It's usually fast, cheap, and easy.

But this is not a story about kimchi.

I was listening to a podcast when something reminded me of the Hundred Days ceremony. I will explain it here as I understood it, and it is very confusing so please bear with me.

It is custom for a child not to be given a name until it has reached 100 days of life. This is because, before public health and child mortality improved, there was often a good chance that the child might not live and therefore not need a name. This probably also impacted the attachment parents and the family had with the child.

Side note: knowing what we know now from clinical psychology and the need of infants to be held and loved, this may have been rather damaging, no?

So when the child did reach 100 days, it was a big deal and there was some celebration. I think one of the Korean teachers I worked with had a baby that hit 100 days when I was there. This was eight years ago now, and my memory is fading.

So when is the child's birthday? Here's where it gets more confusing. At some point along the line, someone thought it was a good idea if all Koreans celebrated their birthday on the same day: the first day of the (Korean/Chinese) new year. So take me, for example. I was actually born on March 23. But the Chinese new year wasn't until the following January or February, so according to one tradition, I turned one before I turned one. That is to say, on that new year, I turned one, and on March 23, I turned one again. Or was it the other way around? No, I think it's right. So according to this system, I would be turning 38 in January (or whenever the new year begins, I'm never sure), when I'll actually be turning 37 in March.

I bet this makes paperwork in this country a bureaucratic nightmare.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Post 110: a taste of winter

Well I'll be darned.

I had no idea it could get this cold out here on the coast. I had heard from locals that it snowed once every four winters or so, but nobody said anything about the snow staying on the ground! Or that temperatures would remain below freezing for more than a day.

The snow began falling on Sunday but it cleared up by noon when the sun came out. They (as in 'They' who know Things) predicted lows around -6 degrees Celsius. I didn't believe it would happen. Denial, much?

Then it snowed again on Monday. I waited all afternoon for the temperature to increase and for the sun to come out but it didn't! In fact, I could barely keep the house warm because, it seems, it is not insulated for such frigid temperatures, even when the wood stove is going full steam. In fact, it was around -5 all day.

Back to the cold front, the freezing temperatures remain here. The tires on our truck are not so tready these days, so when I took a drive the other day, I chose a route that would not have me going up hills that are too steep. Even in wet conditions, the two hills near us cause me to spin out and consider shifting to 4WD to get past an intersection. I know, I know, we need winter tires. Can't afford 'em. Maybe Santa Clause will bring?

I just watched Miracle on 34th Street. I had long known this was a Christmas classic and was sure I had seen it, but I just watched (again?) now (the recent version, with Dylan McDermott), and wow they do a good job of making one believe in Santa. No wonder it's been a classic for 60 years.

I have been hoping to have the family here for Christmas, I think I mentioned. Dan said he'd mentioned it to family members, and then I did. An early response from a family member set me off into despair, for it seemed like no one would be interested and it would be really difficult to manage. But! But! I never used to get really excited about Christmas - my family didn't put a lot of effort into Christmas so I never realized what all the hoo-ha was about. When I met Dan and had Christmas with his family for the first time, I got it. It was so much fun! If the family doesn't come here for Christmas... I'm not sure we can make the drive for Victoria - partly because of the aforementioned tire issue, but also - we can't afford the gas! I'm only working about 6 hours a week right now and money is very tight.

So today I was given hope that it is possible, that most of the family is up for it and we're just waiting on word from the ones on the mainland. I had great fun thinking about how we would arrange the house to accommodate everyone, we currently have enough beds for 9 so we are short by one, we have enough towels, enough mugs, enough plates...

We also found out that we can get a local source of firewood for WAY cheaper than we paid for before. In the spring we paid something like $380 to have two cords of wood brought from Port Alberni. If we haul it ourselves, we can fill our truck for $65! That will last us about two months. I sure do love the wood stove. So does the kitty. She has been sleeping right next to it for the last two days.

Sorry for the long rambling post. I realize it's been a week or more since I wrote and was way overdue for a post!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do you have enough hours?

This is a frequently asked question around Ucluelet at this time of year. Why? Since much of the town is employed in the fishing industry one way or the other, everyone busts their butts all summer long (or as they say "all season long", meaning the summer/tourist/fishing season) to get their 910 hours to be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.

For those not in Canada, what this means is when someone is laid off from work, if they have worked 910 hours in the last 12 months, they are eligible for income assistance that is a fraction of what they were making while employed, but (hopefully) enough to live on.

Most of the people around here who have been working at the fish plants have made more than enough hours to get their EI cheques. They are just waiting to get laid off.

Alas, I am not in the same boat. I have been looking for work, but since the jobs I've had all summer have been so casual and on-call, and since I haven't worked for paid employment in a few years (was doing my M.Sc. then was supported by my husband while looking for work), I am hundreds of hours short of being eligible for EI. This means I either have to take any job I can find here in Ucluelet (or Tofino, or Port Alberni) or see if we can manage on Dan's income. He is getting EI and has enough (but not too many) hours from fish job to survive.

It's going to be a tough winter, financially speaking. I have grandiose plans of selling my beautiful knitted pieces, but really, that is an unpredictable factor. I'm making stuff to sell, if it doesn't sell, they will be gifts. I'm even thinking about Etsy as a possible venue. I doubt that it could really represent an actual portion of our income but hey, every bit helps, right?

Lingon berries

More adventure. Can you stand it?

Our friends that were here for the weekend went home on Sunday. Before they left town, they and Dan went to Florencia Bay beach to walk around. While walking the trail that day, Dan noticed some little red berries by the trail. He came home, looked at The Book, and figured they

might be Lingon berries. He suggested we get up early this morning to go berry picking.

I'm not all that cheerful in the morning. I wouldn't say I'm grumpy but I would be a lot happier if I could get up in the morning and the house was already warm, breakfast and coffee made. Then I would be more 'in the mood' for adventuring at this hour.

Grump grump grump. Okay, yes, I was grumpy. And yet I am so interested in harvesting Non Forest Timber Products for preservation later (they're free!) that I agreed to it. Another part of our mission, though not completed, was to see if there was any sea glass on the beach worth scavenging.

See, we had a big storm last night. So big, that while I was working at the fish plant across the bay, the large plastic lid of a fish tote (the lid probably weighing about 20 lbs, 4'x4'x3") was kicked up by the wind and tossed 30 feet in the air before landing on the other side of the tally shack I was in. The lid hit the tally shack on the way with such force that the phone was knocked off the hook and I and the other tally gal shrieked. When I was walking out to sample fish, I had to hold the fish with one (gloved) hand so I could use my other hand to hold my hat on. I had to use muscles to steel myself against the wind so I could walk across the dock to the bathroom! We all expected the power to go out. (note to self: buy storm candles)

These kinds of storms happen all winter here, so the locals are used to it. Something that many locals to after such a storm is go to the beach to see what the ocean threw up last night. Sometimes it will be a crab trap or some other metal rig. Sometimes it will be glass buoys from Japan. Sometimes it will be bumpers from boats who were tossed around at sea. Really you just never know. That's why it's so much fun to go to the beach afterwords to explore. This is the beach at Incinerator Rock, taken this morning. This is the north end of Long Beach, and as I was driving back from teaching the girls this morning, I felt compelled to stop and walk around for a bit.

This last photo is of Dan and the sablefish trap we found after one of the storms last month. It was half buried in sand & surf when we retrieved it, so it took a bit of digging and getting wet to get it out. The thing weighs about 200 pounds so we rolled it back from halfway down Long Beach to the parking lot!

Right, back to the Lingon berries. We never did get to the beach this morning before I had to go - but we did get a good amount of berries. They each have two large seeds in them. They are currently on the stove, having been simmered down. We'll strain out the seeds (for planting later!) and we might get one jar of jam out of them.

An interesting thing about these plants: they seem to just grow out of stalks in the ground with no foliage. The stalks are between eight and 12 inches long. They are almost always near salal or deer ferns and you will only find them in low fertility soil next to water. We might go searching for more in other similar areas.

I just want to be warm

Have I said this before?

Our house is heated by a wood stove. Earlier in the year, we had two cords of firewood delivered, which we dutifully stacked and then covered in the back yard.

We haven't had a proper chopping block, so when we did chop wood for kindling, it would be inside, just before one of us wanted to light the fire. And sometimes, if we were lazy, the fire wouldn't get lit. Or sometimes we would go through rather a lot of paper and cardboard to get those logs going.

When carrying in armfuls of splinter-causing firewood grew very tedious, Dan had this brilliant idea to use those oversized IKEA shopping bags for firewood. They are perfect! Just the right width and when full, are just the right weight to be characterized as 'exercise' when we haul it in.

On our way to Virgin Falls the other day, Dan spotted a few large round chunks of tree laying in the logging debris. He said "on the way back I want to pick that up and use it as a chopping block". So I marked it as a Waypoint on our GPS so we would know when we were approaching it on our way back. Those GPS functions sure are nice! It took all four of us to lift this thing into the back of our truck but we got it.

Now Dan can get his daily exercise by chopping kindling, and I will be warm. Win! Win!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Ten Hour Duck

12:00pm Duck comes out of the fridge. Dan instructs Burgle on how to prep the duck for later smoking and then roasting. The duck gets washed and scrubbed down. Then coarse salt gets rubbed and stuck into crevices. Duck gets strung up (with knitting cotton!) and hung inside the smoker while we were out. The smoker wasn't on, but the duck was hanging there to dry.

5:30pm Smoker gets turned on

8:00pm Duck smoking is finished. Dan seasoned it (should have rinsed it before it was smoked) & stuffed it in the oven on my lasagna dish. Dan says he should have also pricked the skin so the fat had a place to roll out.

9:45pm Duck came out of the oven. Now at this point I must mention there was a haze inside the entire house because of all the smoke coming from the oven. Burning fat? The smell wasn't that bad, it smelled like bacon, but boy do I hate the smell of burning in the house.

Meanwhile I was playing dominoes with Peter & Burgle. Kicking their butts, actually. Hm.

10:00 Dinner is finally served. Alongside the duck was the wild rosehip sauce as well as a salal berry sauce (salal juice from berries we gathered in August), steamed jasmine rice, steamed baby bok choi.

I have had duck exactly twice before and didn't like it either time. Living with a foodie, however, I must try something 'prepared right' in order to correctly judge whether I do, in fact, dislike something. Well, to no avail. Even if this was very well prepared duck, I couldn't handle the taste nor the texture and I will hopefully never eat it again. Dan has threatened to sneak it into a dish later on but boy-o-boy I know I will notice. It's one of those awful cloying tastes you just have to get out of your mouth as quickly as possible.

Not only that, the smell of smoke (i.e. burning grease) wafted upstairs and settled on our bedding. You can imagine my, um, displeasure, when I climbed into bed and was smacked with yet another reminder of that awful dinner I couldn't eat. (I did eat the rice & bok choy, of course).

Luckily, I had made my mum's Chocolate Cake recipe and that really saved the meal for me. Some of the Irish Cream that went into the earlier hot chocolate also made its way into the icing for the cake. YUM. Just saying.

Virgin Falls

(This bit of pink ribbon says "Virgin Falls Trail" on it)

We found it!

Dan and I in our truck, our friends in their truck, we drove out west and then north in search of the fabled Virgin Falls. It's a place we wanted to get to in the summer but just never seemed to have the time. This time, with two vehicles, two Backroad Mapbooks, and a GPS, we wended our way.

It was pretty good for the first half of the way. Gravel roads, full of potholes after the rain, me hanging on to the handle. No, I didn't bring my knitting. I wanted to but I knew one hand would be hanging on for dear life.

(Usually when we drive these roads I put on a sports bra, knowing the girls would get all knocked around.

There were some pretty steep roads, some of them with evidence of water drainage in the middle of them (what with our rains and all), so we were glad we had our four wheel drive vehicles. We wouldn't have been able to make it up otherwise.

So according to the GPS and the map, we were close to the area where Virgin falls was supposed to be. Dan heard the falls. Then we crossed the bridge over the stream where we first saw the falls.

For some reason, we half expected for there to be a warren of hiking trails around the Falls. But nope! There was an almost four-minute trail from the road to the falls.

It was cold up there! And it was amazing how much wind the falling of the water generated. It's hard to tell in pictures just how big this waterfall is, but I will tell you it was about 200m. Maybe more? Again, hard to gauge.

Dan has made us all some fish tacos before leaving, so once we poked around the area and took our photos, we all dug into them. There was also some sweet chili sauce!

After some riotous conversation, although none of us wanted to leave, we realized we had to because it was getting late in the day and we didn't want to be driving logging roads in the dark.

It was kind of cold so I suggested that when we get back we have some hot chocolate. Burgle thought Bailey's Irish Cream would be a good addition. They headed straight for the liquor store and we got the fire going again. There was a cake to be baked, a duck to be smoked and then roasted.

Augh......the Ten Hour Duck. I think I'll save that for another time. Meanwhile, in case you think I am pregnant with pointy things in this photo, I'll have you know that I have binoculars and a water bottle in my jacket pockets!

unplanned harvest

Now I know that any time we go into the bush in search of adventure, we must be prepared to do some harvesting and/or scavenging. The other day when we had our friends from Victoria visiting, we decided to take the drive up to Virgin Falls to see what everyone was talking about.

Dan figured it would take about 2 hours to drive up. We were making good time though, and didn't need 4WD yet, so we took a brief detour to Second Bridge (bottom of Kennedy Lake) to show our friends the place where we go fishing, where we found our tin boat, where we might go camping one day.

While we were there, these bright red bulbs on the bushes announced they were ready to be harvested. O no!, said I, I brought no bucket or vessel to gather food with! Luckily Burgle did, she had a small bucket in the back of their truck. With the four of us gathering, we filled this 2L bucket in about ten minutes.

This was the day of the Ten Hour Duck, so the plan for these rosehips was to use them as a sauce for the duck. This amount of fruit yielded about 700mL of liquid. It was a bit on the tart/astringent side, and Dan didn't sweeten it much, but it was nice. Probably good on vanilla ice cream.

In case you are wondering, the first thing you have to do with rosehips is snip the flowery bits off the end. then you slice them in half lengthwise, then pick out the seeds. This is a very long process but worth the effort, especially if you have friends helping you.