Defies description

There are some places that seem to defy description and logic. I think we found one of them.

It started as a logging community and became a stop between major towns early on in the Western development of Vancouver Island. Now it just seems to be known for the eclectic mix of “stuff”.

My recollections, from the mid 70’s, was of a primitive wooden building with goats on the roof. I dimly recall ice cream and a tiny town on a backroad surrounded by trees.

Today Coombs has morphed into something, hm, quite unique. It still has the original house/store front. It is sadly vacant and appears a bit run down.

There are also a handful of other old buildings in this small settlement; two of them still in use. Grace United Church and the General Store.

Neither of these buildings are why people flock to Coombs. And trust me they flock on the Sunday of a long weekend. The old county market is what draws tourists in.

Locals, like my sister, only go early mid week morning. The grocery story and open air market is chock full of interesting items and great produce for good value. The buildings meander along and almost seem to be part of the landscape.

Except for when you realize there are goats on the roof. Apparently they aren’t there all the time but will always be out on long weekends. I don’t recall what the original story about them is all about but they are a tourist draw.

It was interesting to note the second the goats realized tourists were around with food they zipped to that part of the roof and quite grazing on the grass. They were looking for a handout for sure.

There were lineups everywhere. The pizzeria serves great food and is always booming apparently. It was hard to tell what the building originally was, or indeed if it was old or new, as I was fixated on this plant! The flowers were so gorgeous.

The opposite side of the old market lane has had a transformation and it’s a bit jarring. Gone are the old wood buildings and in its place is a new Italian Renaissance style long building. It houses the ice cream and involves a lot of glass and a huge deck. I did not take a picture of it because it didn’t fit the backwoods vibes of the place. Instead I took a photo from the patio, as we enjoyed our ice creams, of the original ice cream shack. Which now houses the donut shop but they had run out and were closed, much to the dismay of many tourists. I also skipped the photo of all the totally weird statues in the next little market area. The inside of that building, a 80’s era log structure, was full of teak carvings and a food stand. Outside it there were giraffes, elephants, Buddha’s of all shapes and sizes and dozens more “climbing” statues of an Asian theme. It seemed rather incongruous along side the old house beside it that displayed Rastafarian flags. It was randomly weird.

We went back to the more old original area and found the fairgrounds. I’ve heard about the local Coombs fair for a couple of decades as my sister had been very involved so we checked it out. Then we proceeded to see if the town, or perhaps it’s a village, had any houses and what vintage they would be. There was a steamboat (?) along the creek, which was way too tiny to have been the way this vessel was moved. There was no signs of the original railway tracks but we found a few houses on the side streets. The businesses alongside the highway have come and gone throughout the years but the market itself is still going strong.

Maybe, just because, it defies description.

Bernie

Report Card 1

Report card day was never my favourite day as I never really had an idea what the teacher or the exam results would say. Then of course add in the fact that I failed one of my five final nursing exams. Makes sense why report card day brings a sense of trepidation to me.

So why would I Continue reading

Fingers crossed

I may have jinxed myself with yesterday’s post about first time out and things turning out exceptionally well.

Today I’m also trying something for the first time and feeding the results to friends! Hence the fingers crossed! I don’t have a plan B for supper so let’s hope.

The story begins a couple of years ago when my friend’s dad gave us some beans. He grows them and then dries them and shells them out. So this year I planted some of his and after we ate them fresh and green I let the plants continue. I pulled, dried and finally shelled them in a post called Side tracked

They’ve been patiently waiting for me to remember to soak them on a weekend night and have the day for them to simmer. First I checked with my mom for a recipe but it turns out that’s doctored up canned beans was the norm although she did hand write out a receipe for her granddaughter’s shower gift. I then turned to my two favourite on line sites only to find out they both used canned beans to create their baked beans.

So I just picked the first three hits, read the reviews, picked one (Genius kitchen which I’ve used before) and set about making it. They have to soak overnight in cold water; the next morning they are boiled in clean water for 10 minutes. While they were simmering on the stove I made the sauce for them; a modification here and there like less sugar and a jalapeno. Then I put them in the oven and walked away for several hours. We did have to adjust fluid levels a few times but I am happy to report they were cooked after 6 hours and the sauce was absolutely spot on!

So first time lucky but it sure won’t be the last time we have them. It takes pre planning but it is neither hard nor complex just time consuming for the cooking part. It was a casual meal for sure but paired with good friends and lively conversation and a brew it went down well.

Bernie

Enchanted Event

The post planned for yesterday was preempted, once again, by an enchanting afternoon. Obviously the subject matter for that poor Continue reading

Zoomer It

If you think I’ve lost my marbles with the title I can tell you I’m not making this up. It’s a real word and a growing industry. Seriously. Zoomer.

A boomer is a zoomer if they want to be. Well why wouldn’t you? Who wants to be an old boring boomer worn out with no zip from too many years of work.

Look at the cover of the Zoomer magazine, which I borrowed from the outpatient clinic lab waiting area (still with my long work story maybe later tale) and tell me this isn’t an industry waiting to explode.

There is a carful of boomers around every corner. We are the biggest demographic and apparently we are going to bankrupt the country when we all want our pensions. We’ve worked hard and don’t want to be old yet. We embraced technology, for the most part says the woman trying to master the three remotes in the basement, and don’t want to go out to pasture yet. So we created a new category and have zipped ourselves into it.

Now I borrowed the magazine because I wanted to read the article about anaesthetics and elderly patient. Purely from a professional interest to see if the main stream media is saying what the docs I work with are reading and what I see in the real world in the “theatre” ( fancy word for operating room).

And then today, somewhere in one of my feeds, I saw this article below. I couldn’t find the actual link for it but it does quote the WHO. And in essence it’s saying that boomers are now zoomers.

So there you go except for one thing.

And with ageing does come wear and tear on the “vessel” that we use to zoom around in. And today I feel older than the above mentioned chart classification of young. Mostly because I had my arthritic thumb joint injected because the pain is interfering with work and life. Of course the long-term issue is that I have less strength in it which is probably more significance than the pain but that’s not what this blog post is about.

This post is about staying fit and active. Being the kind of grandparent that gets down on the floor and plays. It’s about keeping up with technology but not being ruled by it. It’s about pacing ourselves while still challenging our own status quo.

Now excuse me while I stop pecking away with one hand and go ice my hand. Stop in with your comments and opinions about your “demographics” and mantras!

Bernie

Life’s like a …

The sunlight dappled through the raspberry patch and while it was a beautiful colour it added a level of complexity to berry picking. The evening tinged light made the ripe berries hard to distinguish.  

She thought maybe life’s like a raspberry patch and not a box of chocolates. Chocolates are so pedestrian;  mass produced and if you read the key there aren’t even any surprises. It’s all so uniform and easy and she thought that’s not like life at all. Life isn’t easy. Those chocolates are tasty but they lack the smell, feel and taste of victory.  Because each bowl of raspberries is a little victory on so many levels and that’s much more like real life is.


No there was much more to it than walking out and picking the big juicy berries on the top. She thought of all the background work that most people don’t ever consider as they eat that berry. How all that time and those little decisions ripple along and collide with the factors we can’t control. The best maintained berry patch can be levelled by a hail storm so intense that there is nothing left but beat up old canes. The new strapping plants growing so pristinely for next year are desecrated.  

That’s what life is like she thought. Hail could so be a metaphor for a crisis like a car accident that claims a young life and cripples someone in their grief. Raspberry blight was like that bloody cancer. The one that robs young, old and in betweens of the life they wanted to live. Instead it replaces it with something they never dreamt could happen to them. Cane rot requires the whole patch be burnt and relocated which she reflected, was what those who had lost their relationships or their jobs were often forced to do. 
Better to live through a drought, she thought, even though that had its downsides as well. Less berries with a lower quality and perhaps there was some lesson to be learnt there as well. That smaller bowl was worthy of the same respect as the big juicy bowl full of prime berries. That analogy seemed to elude her grasp and yet sat in front of her face but the metaphor wasn’t jumping up at her.  Ps late at night these two thoughts intruded: racism and or white privilege. 


Pulling her mind back to the picking of the berries she mulled over that the work of keeping raspberries. The mulching, weeding, cutting back of the floricane at the year end so that the primocane could flourish the following year and the disposal of the canes. Those maintenance items were like seeing brushing your teeth, eating properly, getting enough sleep and stretching. Those self care items that people neglect on themselves but will take care of for others or as it turns out for plants.  Perhaps the bees were sent along to help like friends do in real life. 

But if the care of them was like self care she rationalized then the use of the berries was like the sweet things in life. Preserving the berries for a cold winters day or eating them fresh with farm cream was hugs and laughter all around. And if life handed you little raspberries then make lemonade. Now that was an analogy she could get behind; that some times difficult situations force us to respond to find the best possible outcome. Yes life definitely was like that. 


Bernie 

Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time alone in the raspberry patch! 

Family “Secret”

I suspect it seems odd that I’d be willing to talk about a family secret. No one remembers where it originated from but everyone enjoys it so obviously it’s not a sinister thing like you were all thinking. 

My Nanna used to make something called raspberry vinegar and luckily passed the recipe to our mothers and they passed it on to us. I’m happy to say, that for my part, my kids love it and I’m sure they will continue to make it.


It’s certainly not mainstream because googling it brings up raspberry vinaigrette which I made last year and is a totally different story. This is a drink that is slightly sour and slightly sweet which doesn’t even make sense.

Neither does what the magazine Country Woman did to it. Several years ago my sister, who had a subscription, submitted the recipe. They changed it up so much that it was not even recognizable as the same drink. I wrote them a follow-up and let them know how disappointed we were in what they had done to such a fabulous drink. I don’t think they ever corrected it. I do understand what they were trying to do as it is a very time intensive process. It’s not labour intensive just timely.




Basically you take a pail of raspberries, add vinegar and water. Let set x 24 hours, hang to extract juice x 12 hours. Add sugar, boil and pour into hot jars. 

Then when you need some liquid sunshine from the garden add three parts water to one part concentrate. Enjoy! 

Bernie 

PS – so if you are lucky enough to have some raspberries and need specifics about quantities leave me a comment (which gives me your email) and I will probably share our family secret. 😉


PPS — if you ever find a jelly bag in a store please let me know who carries them. Illusively hard to find but so much easier than cheesecloth