Feel-good Friday: in support of summer

Moving on 

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir.

Getting ready to embrace some change

“Change is a great and horrible thing, and people love it or hate it at the same time. Without change, however, you just don’t move.” -Marc Jacobs

“I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question.” -Harun Yahya

Let’s see what September has in store

remember that summer isn’t over just yet

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Food in the Forest: pilgrimme

pilgrimme on Galiano Island is a foodie dining out discovery.  It may be off the beaten path, but even so, it’s not easy to get a reservation.  It has been voted in Canada’s 100 TOP Restaurants for good reason.  I called a couple weeks in advance and was considered lucky to get a table for four during my recent stay on Galiano.  And what a dining experience it turned out to be.

plgrimme, the restaurant.  It’s worth the ferry ride over.

For years, Galiano remained a well-kept secret, its charms known mainly to the farmers and artisans who called it home.  The cozy wood cabin previously existed as a much loved French restaurant for years before present owners Leanne Lalonde and Jesse McLeery put their name above the door.  Leanne had previously worked for Rosewood’s King Pacific Lodge in the great bear rainforest where she first met Jesse.

Jesse made the inspiring journey to Denmark to spend the winter in the kitchen of Copenhagen’s acclaimed Noma, a two-Michelin-star restaurant . Returning west with new ideas and a reinforced vision, Jesse, with Leanne, opened pilgrimme working with the growers and artisans of Galiano Island.  Everything is made fresh from scratch, locally sourced, farm-to-table, creatively plated and extremely tasty.  Even the ceramics are made on the island.  They have a nicely curated wine list too.

Some of the shared plates created especially for us

Here’s the thing that impressed me the most.  The restaurant created an all vegan menu which was absolutely delicious because out of our group of four people, two and a half of us are vegan.  I must admit that I had my reservations about that at first because I thought that vegan food would be less tasty but everything turned out to be surprisingly excellent.  As good or better than anything I’ve had in a restaurant all year.  And it made me change my mind-set.  In a perfect world we would all be vegan and everything would be better off.  Although I’m not quite ready to totally live up to that.  I’m not perfect just yet.

http://pilgrimme.ca/visit-pilgrimme/

 

 

Destination: Galiano

I can now cross Galiano Island off my places to go to list.  It was the only remaining one of all the gulf islands in British Columbia left for me to visit, and luckily the dogs and I were recently and happily invited to spend three nights at a beautiful ocean front home belonging to friends Joanne & Geoff who also happen to be our neighbours. They’ve been going for a number of years and now I understand why.  Their location is unrivaled but Galiano in general has such natural rocky beauty and there’s even a white sandy beach. It is referred to as the untamed Gulf Island and the wildest due to its mountainous geography, rare plant population and generous forest reserves. Plenty of wildlife too. It’s the closest to Vancouver of the southern group of Gulf Islands. Much of it is protected from development thanks to community initiatives from a tight knit group of concerned property owners.

Lunch and Dinner served outdoors with a view you can never tire of.

Galiano is also the driest in the gulf, getting more sunshine than the mainland and most of coastal B.C.  It comes with peaceful beaches, wooded trails, a nine-hole golf course, artists’ studios & galleries, marina and a world class restaurant in the forest. Oh the restaurant by the way deserves a separate mention. It was that good.  But unfortunately I cannot give you the secret recipe for Geoff’s special gin martinis on the rocks…..literally. We were sipping them on the rocks.

I had to take a photo of my bedroom. A little too hazy because of the wildfires to see the water, but the ocean is right outside the window.

And I will soon tell you about an upcoming workshop offered by Joanne, a life coach and our hostess with the mostest who makes a mean everything salad with goddess dressing.  With a background in the arts, Joanne is a founder of The Gulf Islands Film and Television School.  Her upcoming workshop along with co-facilitator Wendy Sidwell is not only very interesting but will prove to be very helpful to most individuals so stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: Riverside Adventure

Have you ever been White Water Rafting?

That’s me jumping off a rock into the super clean and clear water. Photos: Lisa King.  Riverside Adventures, Clearwater, British Columbia.
Goofing around with Margeaux and Lisa.  Photos: Lisa King

Hours before attending a wedding reception last Saturday, this is what we did.  We had an absolute blast whitewater rafting in warm, clear & clean water around the pristine wilderness of Wells Gray Provincial Park – in Clearwater, British Columbia.  There was haze in the air though due to the countless wildfires still raging in surrounding areas.  There was a moody grayness up above but down below we enjoyed every minute not knowing exactly what to expect around the corner.  There were a few good splashes along the way and those who wanted to swim could, in certain safe areas.  Two weeks from now the wild salmon will come to spawn.  That will be a sight to see.

Photo: Margeaux Bauman

 

See how clear it is? Photo: Lisa King

Reception on the Runway

Introducing Rock & Riyo (aka runway bride)

On Saturday I attended the most original and fun wedding reception with a twist, along with my sister Lisa and good friend Margeaux.  It took place in Clearwater B.C. which by the way lives up to its name.  Too bad the sky wasn’t clear but it certainly didn’t place a damper on the evening which took place on a private airstrip where our friends made their arrival….by plane of course.  The flight was pretty much on time too.  Out they came  dressed as captain and first officer…and we would expect nothing less from these two exceptional adventure seekers.

Top L: Riyo (first officer), Rock (captain) + me (flight attendant wannabe). Top R: Lisa, Margeaux, Riyo, me. Bottom L: Lisa, Margeaux, me. Bottom R: Rock, Riyo + Spruce Goose Chardonnay.

The reception took place on the airstrip with big white tent set up just outside Rock’s airplane hangar.  The hangar itself was turned into a fully stocked open bar, and it was catered with delicious food, dessert and even a hot dog cart for those who wanted a late night extra snack.  Naturally there was music too.  Everyone got place settings with their names written on a little paper suitcase which when opened had a number (for door prize) and a cute luggage tag with a plane on the inside.  It was an evening that was very plane but never boring.

Infact the actual exchange of vows took place on the infamous Spruce Goose which used to be owned by Howard Hughes, in the town of McMinnville, Oregon at the Evergreen Aviation Museum.  The reception was hosted by the bride and groom who sat at a head table by themselves and played trivia games where prizes were given out for either having the right answer or the craziest answer.  We were asked to please not bring gifts, but guests were given gifts.  A reverse order. There was also an inflight movie at dusk about the Spruce Goose and for those not able to attend, their wedding ceremony.

Oh; and the food…catered by Gateway Grill in Clearwater which provided a beautifully plated delicious dinner which when served was still surprisingly warm (remember we were on an airfield) and later, the tastiest dessert served in a signature mason jar.

Gateway Grill – Dinner: stuffed chicken with mango, veggies, wild rice.  Dinner and Salad complete with edible flowers.  Dessert: fresh fruit trifle.

Suntory sake shooters were passed around  later in the evening.  The whole thing was relaxed, impressive and unique.  I don’t think I’ve had more fun attending a wedding reception before (sorry to the ones I’ve previously attended).

Top L: individual place setting Top R: R+R host the evening. Bottom L: Jack, Riyo & Lauren (her gorgeous daughter). Bottom R: plane decor at top of tent.

The entire day was full and eventful starting with an amazing white water rafting adventure (photos to come) and then this celebration of a new beginning (instead of an ending; for a welcome change).  No one really knew what to expect.  Although Riyo really knows how to make an entrance and Rock is the perfect partner…or accomplice.  Congratulations to both!

 Cool Heights.  Amazing Sights.

Rock operates Wells Gray Air (a seasonal business when they’re not travelling elsewhere) and takes people on awesome 44 minute sightseeing tours over world famous Wells Gray Provincial Park (nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in beautiful Clearwater, British Columbia (when it’s clear of course).  What you see: majestic waterfalls (39 in total), snow capped mountains, ancient volcanoes, crystal clear whitewater rivers, hidden lakes, mountain pastures and much more.  Click the link below and check out the “Wings and Waterfalls” 1 minute, 37 second, absolutely breathtaking video.  

Wellsgrayair.com

 

 

 

Healing Art: Picasso’s Guernica

The other day I wrote briefly about the importance of using ART in all its various forms (to view, read or listen to) as a healing tool for managing grief. Here’s one of the best remarkable examples of a great art piece created out of tragedy to commemorate a terrible time in history:

Probably Picasso’s most famous work, Guernica is certainly his most powerful political statement, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi’s devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937, oil on canvas, 349 cm × 776 cm. (Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid)

Guernica shows the tragedies of  war and suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians.  This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace.

On completion, Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed.  This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention.

Another reason why ART is so important in recovery.

 

 

 

 

Self Care: the One Year Mark

The anniversary of Don’s passing is coming up in a few days and I’ve been deeply affected by it.  Don wasn’t only my husband; he was my best friend and the best person I’ve ever known.  Certainly the most solid.  I spent almost half my life with him.  Watching the struggle and rapid decline of someone who was my rock was the worst experience of my entire life.  I am only now beginning the healing process.

Some of these photos I’ve never seen before because they were recently sent to me.

Photo: Fred To
Photo: Fred To

People say it will get better but so far I don’t know what they’re talking about.  As of today, I can say that I’m managing my grief.  I say managing because I’m living with it, not overcoming it.  I don’t have a time frame for when it will affect me less; maybe never.

Grief feels very solitary. Even if we’re not alone we’re still alone in our grief because it’s all individual.  No one can tell me otherwise.  But there are a few similarities with others living with loss.  We work through it.

Working through grief is painful and tough.  It’s about finding ways to live alongside your loss; building a life around the edges of what will always be a vacancy. Making sense of something senseless.  We live in a culture that doesn’t understand.  It’s not really our fault that we’re ignorant. We’ve grown up with what we’ve learned; trying to fix things and make everything better.  Most people mean well.  But knowing that you had a good life with a partner doesn’t cancel out the fact that they’re no longer here to continue with the life you had.  Certainly doesn’t make one feel any better.

Photo: Fred To.  Our mutual friend Colleen Kohse was sitting on the other side of Don (but she would not have approved the photo of her in this shot).  RIP dearest Colleen.

It’s even more difficult if someone looks for the flaws in how someone got to where they were.  Hearing things like he/she didn’t really take care of themselves, didn’t exercise enough, or exercised too much, didn’t take proper vitamins or took too many.  They should never have taken that turn; things like that. As if that would have changed the outcome.  It’s hard for some people to accept the cold hard fate of what is.

Photo by Willy. I was surprised to see this up on the screen at Beth’s recent Celebration of Life. At former Heaventree Gallery from our Ambience of Africa photo exhibit.  RIP beautiful Beth.

So you try to heal as best you can.  You continue to go out with friends but there’s a huge void.  And there are moments where you lose yourself in laughter which feels great, but then you may feel guilty because your partner is not here to laugh alongside you.

Don with his mom Jean. She was lovely.
Don with another love.

Transforming  grief into a work of art that touches someone has been and continues to be a way of healing.  The best songs, poetry, movies and art are created out of loss.  Expressions of great pain were reflected by the images of Picasso’s Guernica or in the words of writers like C.S. Lewis.  Or Eric Clapton’s song Heaven written about the loss of his little boy.  Creating art out of loss is certainly not a fair trade for the loss, but sharing an expression of grief with others can help tell the story and stay connected to who you’ve lost.  Many people find that journaling helps.

*There is something to be said about our biology being affected by grief.  Losing someone close to us changes our biochemistry.   Respiration, heart rate, and nervous system responses are all partially regulated by close contact with familiar people and animals: these brain functions are all deeply affected when we’ve lost someone close.  I’m not a neurobiologist (surprise, surprise) however it is a factor of neurobiology.  Losing someone close changes us is ways we never could forsee.

Activist Don with friend Ruth

Then there’s the emotional rollercoaster just when you think you’ve got it all under control. And so you cannot expect everyone to understand your being overly sensitive or acting a little irritable at times.  Your real friends of course will understand some occasional out of character behaviour as being related to a deep sadness.  Someone said “those who support your shifting needs are the ones to keep in your life.  The others?  They can be set free.” Well meaning people can sometimes be very unkind; even cruel.

So missing someone who you’ll never get to see again in this lifetime is like finishing a great book that you like so much you don’t ever want it to end.  You turn the last chapter but the storyline will resonate with you for the rest of your life.  

And that my friends is what true love is all about.

*Source: Megan Devine, therapist + author

 

A timely recipe for August

After my recent visit to a blueberry farm let’s just say that I came home with an abundance of the delicious antioxidant packed berries.  They’re ripe and in season. So I decided to try something simple but different.  In the sense that I made this dessert completely gluten free. Just because I wanted to try it. And it was as good as if I had used regular baking flour, etc.  Trust me on this – It really was that good! 

GLUTEN-FREE BLUEBERRY CRISP

This crisp is delicious served warm or cold, with yogurt for breakfast, ice cream for dessert or simply on its own!

*So here’s the big question: Are oats truly gluten-free? 

The short answer is YES — non-contaminated, pure oats are gluten-free. They are safe for most people with gluten-intolerance.

The main problem with oats in gluten-free eating is contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten in these ingredients can contaminate oats, and the nature of most gluten intolerances is that even a trace amount of gluten can cause severe discomfort. So that box of Quaker Oats? Probably not gluten-free.

Recipe adapted from Valley Natural Foods