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Beavers Canada Canadian Animals Cats Elk Kayaking Nature Vancouver Island

Beavers, Bears, Beautiful British Columbia!

This blog post is a collage of life events and activities, and Canadian Flora and Fauna, during April (Springtime). From kayaking and wildlife (Beavers, Bears, Elk) to Spring flowers and blossoms on our beautiful Vancouver Island. To round it out, there are a few antics from our 11 month old kitten Sophia and a few Covid Sanity Strategies.

2 week quarantine time for my husband after returning home from working in Ontario.

April 2020 commenced with my husband quarantined in our cabana and the backyard for the first 2 weeks. He had flown home to Nanaimo, B.C. from Toronto, Ontario. It was a peculiar life experience to be physically separated and distanced during the quarantine juration and wear masks and gloves while I delivered and removed food, etc. But….We were successful and healthy, and now have new stories to share about Covid Adaptations.

Meanwhile, Sophia (our 11 month old rescue kitten) and I snuggled and awaited the end of Mark’s two week quarantine.

Sophia our rescue kitten aged 11 months…has learned to snuggle.

Sophia still suffers from anxiety and likes to tunnel or hide under mats, pillows, or blankets to feel more secure when she is frightened. However, she now realizes she gets attention from this behavior and often makes the hiding into a game. I call this one her “turtle” game.

Sophia’s turtle hiding game.

Sometimes, she is just plan curious! She likes to explore anything new from all angles!

Sophia exploring a new collapsible step.

Finally, Mark’s quarantine period concluded, and it was time to venture out together and ‘safely’ explore our “Covid lockdown health region” on Vancouver Island.

Mark and Sandy outside together–April 2020

My son, Alexander, is an Engineer working in Victoria. Due to Covid rules and restrictions, the construction completion of his new apartment was delayed. We assisted (from 2m) by renting a UHaul and bringing his belongings down to Victoria when he finally obtained the keys–April 15th–which also happened to be his birthday!

Alexander’s new digs in Victoria

Spring is a stunning time of the year embracing new growth and reemergence of wildlife after winter hibernation. It is also pollen season. Locate your nearest local honey producer and consume lots of local honey to increase your pollen resistance! It works!

The Crocuses, Daffodils, Tulips, Primroses, Snowdrops, and Heather are some of the early flowers to come into bloom here. The Dogwood, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Cherry and Apple trees, and a multitude of species are popping blossoms sharing an abundance of delectable hues and scents.

April flowers and blossoms galore!

Spring is also a wonderful time to observe and possibly encounter some of the beautiful wildlife on Vancouver Island. The Columbia Black-tailed deer are the deer species located on our island. The life cycle of a Blacktail is 9-10 years in the wild, but only 3-6 years for bucks as they are the target of hunters each fall.

Due to increased Forestry clear-cuts and growing urban areas, these deer are now common in many residential areas. We observe a family visiting our yard to graze nearly every day, so deer resistance plant species, like Forest Flame bushes, Rhododendrons, Heather, and Daffodils are good plants for your gardens.

Out of approximately 3,200 Roosevelt Elk in the Province of British Columbia, roughly 3,000 Roosevelt Elk reside on Vancouver Island. They are quite massive animals and often seen in herds. Approximately 20 elk tags are given out each hunting season. Beyond that, our beautiful creatures are respected and revered. The toll free number if you witness any illegal activity effecting our wildlife is 1-877-952-7277.

Roosevelt Elk herds are majestic creatures.

Black bears are also spotted around the island, especially when they are eating spring shoots or scavenging on rocky beaches to fatten up after their light hibernation period. Estimates indicate there are about 7,000 black bears on Vancouver Island. In the spring sows over aged 5 years are usually seen with 1-4 cubs. Three or four cubs are quite rare, twins are the most common.

Black bears looking for food in Spring time

Watch for bear scat when you are out hiking and be Bear Aware. I have attached a link titled Safety Guide to Bears. https://vancouverisland.com/about/facts-and-information/safety-guide-to-bears/

Although Grizzly Bears were unheard of on Vancouver Island a few decades ago, there have been a few sightings in recent years. It is suspected that some Grizzlies were successful swimming across from the mainland by island hopping en route. There are many talented professional wildlife photographers on Vancouver Island and tours to view our beautiful wildlife are available. Remember, if you see any illegal hunting please phone the toll free line to protect our wildlife from poachers!

The third Canadian animal I am sharing this post is our national symbol of Canada–the Beaver! The Beaver is the symbol on our 5 cent coin and was once nearly eradicated during the Fur Trade era. They are making a come back and although these photos were taken by a friend in northern B.C. (notice the snow), we have Beavers thriving here too usually hiding out in small lakes or marshy ponds. Watch for the chewed tree trunks, piles of small fallen trees, lodges and dams.

The Canadian Beaver…Famous for its amazing flat tail. These photos were from northern B.C.

Our rescue kitten was discovered in the woods too…but her habitat and survival is slightly different from the elk, bears, and beavers!

It’s a tough life for Sophia! lol

The final topic in this blog about April, is Covid Survival Strategies:

  1. Appreciating your neighborhood. Working in your yard. Observing nature and being grateful for what you have. We were so grateful that the Fire Department efficiently and effectively put out the chimney fire for our neighbors.
Fire Department was quick to solve this problem across the street.

2) Dr. Bonnie Henry establishing Covid Safety rules and protocols for the province of British Columbia to help us flatten the curve and keep safer.

Covid physical distancing, rules and protocols. April 2020

3) Learning New Skills and Adapting to Change. After much coercion from my husband, I started cutting his hair! We found that meditation and yoga each morning really helped bring a calmer, healthier perspective to each new day.

Adapting to change during Covid.

4) Using extra lockdown time to sort, organize and downsize or share. We saved money taking the last of our belongings out of our rented storage locker and seriously analyzed whether we really needed these belongings. We discovered some treasures we had forgotten about, some items ready for recycling or garbage, and I gave away boxes of free educational resources to new upcoming teachers.

Getting outdoors to kayak around Nanaimo area.

5) Our final Covid Strategy is get outdoors and experience nature while exercising! Often, this can be walking, hiking, riding your bike, or playing; but in this post I will feature going kayaking in the Pacific Ocean!

Here is a short video of some highlights from 2 consecutive days of kayaking around the gorgeous Pacific ocean surrounding Vancouver Island. We did not see whales or sea lions on these excursions, but seals and river otters are quite common companions.

Video of kayaking around Nanaimo

Thank you for joining my journey throughout the month of April. The next blog post will include more trips and adventures exploring hiking trails, beaches, and natural beauty around Vancouver Island during May. Also, Sophia turns 1 year old!

Keep Safe. The world continues to brighten each week.

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Art Canada Caring for Humanity Cats Harbour City Newcomers Club Life during Covid 19 Nature Springtime Vancouver Island

Conquering Covid Carefully! Feeling Optimistic :-)

As Covid 19 vaccines become more accessible globally, and magic totals for ‘herd’ immunity become more of a reality than a dream; there is a new optimism about interacting with loved ones after a lengthy hug drought of over 15 months!

Hopeful for a Canada/Thailand reunion soon!

I selected a photo of Sophia (our rescue kitten) looking anxiously through the door and wondering what is happening, to introduce this blog post as it seems an accurate portrayal of Covid life during lockdowns.

What’s going on?

Sophia is extremely expressive and her antics generate laughs and discussions which truly brightened our days during lockdown periods.

The many moods of Sophia (aged 10 months)

In Canada, we are carefully observing the new freedoms we see exhibited via media in Australia, the United States and U.K. We are not there yet. In British Columbia, Dr. Bonnie Henry continues to be our amazing leader throughout this pandemic. My husband and I gratefully received our first Moderna ‘jab’ on April 28th, 2021 and are currently awaiting the notification that it is our time to receive the second dose.

Last week, with huge excitement and relief, we commenced stage 1 of a 4 stage Restart plan in B.C. with hopeful anticipation that we will experience a new “norm” and freedom by September, 2021.

Step 1 of the BC Restart Directive. May 25th 2021

The Covid 19 Pandemic has shaken the world and changed all sense of what we experience as “normal”. This blog post is driven by a grateful optimism towards the future, while remembering life and adaptations we faced in March 2020 when our lives suddenly changed…. Covid 19 arrived!

Mid March 2020. The first Covid 19 lockdown!

Prior to the March Lockdown….

My husband accepted a job as part of a team working in Hamilton, Ontario for a few months departing from Nanaimo in mid February 2020. I joined the Harbour City Newcomers Club in Nanaimo excited to meet new people and explore activities in this new location. My son, Alexander, had recently moved back home to Canada after working at Western Digital in Bangkok, Thailand for the past 6 years. He was hired just prior to Covid as a Manufacturing Engineer at StarFish Medical Consultants in Victoria, B.C.

In Early March 2020 Sophia enjoyed the many facets of being a kitten–from sleeping anywhere and everywhere, to discovering her world. She was particularly fond of munching fresh grass every morning before exploring outdoors.

Sophia’s life as a 10 month old kitten

As a member of the Harbour City Newcomers Club (HCNC), I was enjoying meeting new people, attending art workshops, and being creative using new paint techniques.

HCNC Paint workshops

In mid March 2020 we even participated in an Artisan tour checking out nearby galleries including a glass blowing studio. We car pooled together in vehicles and nobody wore masks! The following day, new lock down rules were implemented in B.C. It was the end of carpools, group meetings and indoor activities. This was the official beginning of masks and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!

HCNC Art tour mid March 2020

Who would have anticipated that this hair appointment would be the last one I would have for nearly a year and this would possibly be the last time I would see my hairdresser without both of us wearing protective face masks?

Last hair appointment before covid! No masks!

In mid March 2020 the world as we knew it drastically changed! The unprecedented Covid 19 Pandemic arrived and people started to horde toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap, masks, gloves, and canned food. Suddenly, there was a frenzy of uncertainty!

Covid Coping Strategies:

Thankfully, we live in a single detached home with a large yard near to lots of hiking trails and ocean access. Nature and Spring beauty bring peace and inner grounding during this unsettled and scary time.

Spring beauty around Nanaimo

Another of my favorite locations is Buttertubs Marsh. There is always a plethora of bird songs and diverse species to observe. If you are lucky, you might see turtles or Great Blue Herons.

Buttertubs marsh

My dad passed away in 2007. His favorite bird was the Great Blue Heron and it is always a thrill and comfort when they grace my day. This Heron at Buttertubs was very close to the trail.

Great Blue Heron

While I was active exploring nature and outdoor trails on Vancouver Island, my husband in Ontario visited Niagara Falls. Due to Covid lockdown… the highly popular tourist location was nearly devoid of visitors in late March 2020. What a strange and unusual experience!

Stunning Niagara Falls Late March 2020 during Covid lockdown

By late March 2020 we were starting to adapt to this initial Covid 19 lockdown. Sophia taught me to chill, reflect and sleep a lot. Puzzles and books were becoming a popular option to aid the passing of time spent alone. Stores were crazy places to avoid whenever possible. Masks were not mandated yet, but long lines and empty shelves were troubling realities. Schools and most businesses were closed during the first lockdown. There were constant disturbing news updates about areas hardest hit by Covid 19. North America seemed to fair pretty well initially, but that was to change as the Global Pandemic progressed.

Adapting to Covid 19 lockdown in late March 2020

While we embraced early signs of Spring on Vancouver Island, other areas of B.C. and Canada were still in the midst of late Winter.

Late March on Vancouver Island. The Moose photo was taken up in Burns Lake, B.C.

Daily walks and hikes outdoors were a welcome release. There are so many wooded areas, trails, lakes, rivers, and marshes to explore around Vancouver Island.

Nature walks minutes from my house in Nanaimo–March 23rd 2020

More nearby early signs of Spring to help a person feel grounded and grateful.

March 24th exploration near our home in Nanaimo

When the schools and playgrounds closed and people were confined to their homes, the hearts and messages of hope became more plentiful around our community.

Hearts in the windows and on rocks, and messages of Hope and Optimism. March 25th

As March drew to an end, it was clear that my husband’s job in Hamilton, Ontario would be terminating soon due to lockdown occurring in Ontario. Mark’s flight home to B.C. was booked for the first week of April. We were anxiously awaiting his arrival home.

Sophia was waiting too….

Suddenly, domestic and international flights were all getting cancelled due to the Pandemic. Mark needed to get home IMMEDIATELY before all the provincial borders were closed between British Columbia and Ontario!

Mark travelled home from Hamilton, Ontario (near Toronto) to Vancouver Island, B.C.

So after hours on hold with reservation centers, my husband managed to obtain a seat on an earlier flight departing the following day. Airport safety and protocols were pretty sketchy and the flight was completely full on March 31st 2020. Safety protocols certainly intensified prior to vaccines, as pandemic specialists learned more about this new Covid 19 virus.

My husband’s experience travelling from Toronto to Nanaimo during Covid lockdown on March 31st 2020.

There was no physical spacing in the airports or on the planes, so Mark wore a face mask and we mutually agreed he would go into voluntary quarantine for 2 weeks after he returned home. After our 2 week self imposed quarantine, we were both healthy and ready to tackle lockdown and Covid 19 life as a team together.

Healthy and ready to tackle this Pandemic as a team together! April 2020.

The future is optimistic and exciting, but let’s not forget the confines and struggles of this Covid 19 journey as we move forward and Carefully Conquer Covid.

The next blog posts will include more Nature, Canadian Animals, Exploration around Vancouver Island, Covid Wellness Strategies, Antics by Sophia, and Gardening. Stay safe and Keep on Smiling.

Categories
Adventure Canada Exploring Canada Exploring Outdoors Maple Sugar Festival Moonsnails Mount Washington Seashore Skiing Vancouver Island

Mt. Washington, Moonsnails and Maple Sugar Festivals. Diverse Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island, BC, Canada truly is diverse in landscape, nature, culture, and recreation. This blog post reflects February activities on Vancouver Island. Some of the events occurred prior to Covid facemask expectations and while indoor events were still permitted. From powder skiing up at Mount Washington to exploring fascinating sea life, we have it all.

The photo above highlights stunning Mount Washington and a live Moonsnail with its enormous ‘foot’ extended.

Here is a quick journey around some of our beautiful and diverse areas of Vancouver Island, Canada in February “winter”. Let’s commence in Campbell River as it is close to the middle of the Island. Heading north from Campbell River to Port Hardy takes close to 2 1/2 hours most trips.

The distance from Campbell River to Port Hardy is 230 km on highway 19 N. Bus service has stopped at present, so you will require a vehicle. There are few fuel stations between Campbell River and Port Hardy so be prepared and have a full tank. You can obtain gas at Sayward, Woss, and Port McNeill.

There are a growing number of electric car charging stations north of Campbell River, but check carefully before you head north as phone service is sporadic on this highway. The scenery is pristine with mountains, lakes, rivers, and rainforest surrounding you.

North Vancouver Island highway

If you are lucky you might sight deer, elk, black bears, and occasionally a cougar. https://vancouverislandnorth.ca/get-lost-with-wildlife/ Check out the beautiful wildlife photography on this local website.

https://myvancouverislandnorth.ca/our-communities/port-hardy/ There are many fabulous websites which contain valuable information about the communities on northern Vancouver Island.

It is always wonderful to visit with my mom and a few friends while up in Port Hardy.

When phenomenal low tides occur on the north island, it is well worth the effort to explore and experience the expanse of sea life available on the northern beaches. Both sandy and rocky types of beaches are well represented.

Unlike more populated areas, there is extensive space to roam in solitude while appreciating the wonder of nature. Two of my favorite types of sea life to discover during low tides are: moonsnails and sea urchins.

Moon snails and red/green sea urchins. Back home (Sophia and bird feeder)

Upon returning home to Nanaimo (just over 4 hours and 385 km southeast) from Port Hardy our kitten Sophia was so excited to see us. She continues to develop her trust with people and other animals since her arrival last summer as an anxious, wild, tiny 7-8 week old rescue kitten. Sophia has learned to interact with us and is so curious about everything.

Mark and Sophia watching the birds at the feeder, deer in the yard, and snow falling. So darn cute!!!

Sophia helping Mark do repairs in the bathroom. Whatever is happening, Sophia is right there checking out the action!

Sophia assisting Mark

What is a perfect way to spend a day or two when there is fresh powder snow and blue skies? Time to head up to another treasure on Vancouver Island–Mount Washington!

Mount Washington, Vancouver Island

We packed our downhill ski gear and headed off in the truck. The drive to Mount Washington takes just under 2 hours (134 km) from Nanaimo providing the road conditions are clear and good. There are shuttles and buses available if needed.

https://www.mountwashington.ca/ Mount Washington offers rentals, ski packages, downhill/alpine trails, multiple chair lifts accommodating all levels of skiers, and varieties of accommodation up on the mountain or down at the nearby community of Courtney. The website is very handy to assist you when planning your day or vacation. There are outdoor adventure activities offered during both winter and summer seasons.

My husband prefers black diamond and powder skiing. I prefer groomed blue intermediate level runs. There are choices for all levels available here and the views from the mountain are quite breathtaking!

Mount Washington

A different trip up to Mt. Washington brought more beautiful conditions and an intriguing fog bank looming at lower levels. There is an interesting character we have seen a few times who calls to the Ravens while snowboarding or from the chair lifts. This man sits on the snow signaling the birds with various whistles. The ravens recognize him and gather around to visit with him.

Snowboarder calling Ravens. Fog bank at Mt Washington.

The fog bank seemed to be encroaching along the lower sections. It was beautiful… yet somewhat eerie in its intensity!

After a day’s exercise on the mountain… good healthy food called our name! I’ve recently discovered beet lattes. They are quite unexpectedly yummy!

Delicious healthy food at The Realm cafe in Parksville

Have you ever been to a Maple Sugar Festival? Perhaps you might have attended one if you visited Quebec, but it was a new experience for me in beautiful British Columbia. The French Immersion schools and French community organized this event just prior to Covid lockdown in B.C.

Maple Sugar Festival in Nanaimo

There were ice carving and sculpture displays, various Francophone bands, popular French food, a giant bear mascot, lots of maple sugar sweet treats to taste, and enthusiastic French conversation.

Here is a short video reflecting highlights from the Nanaimo Maple Sugar Festival.

Maple Sugar Festival

Vancouver Island truly is a diverse and exciting place to live or visit.

The next blog posts will depict keeping busy during covid lockdown–from art to nature walks/hikes, and spring wildlife around Vancouver Island. Keep safe. Things are improving and the future looks so promising.

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Canada Canadian Animals Cats North Island Wildlife Recovery Center Pets Vancouver Island Wolf

Sophia Meets a Wolf. Vancouver Island Fun

Sophia is our adventurous Rescue Kitten. Her litter was discovered in the forest and veterinarians estimate she is about 8 months of age. This post reflects our adventures on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada and our kitten’s reaction to seeing the magnificent wolf which our family was donating to an Educational and Recovery Wildlife Facility near us.

These photos reflect a legacy of learning from our local wildlife. No animals were hunted… all died through accidental or natural causes and were lovingly part of my father’s museum collection.

My dad, Alex Prestwich, passed away in 2007 after a lengthy battle with a major stroke, blindness, and cancer. He adored and deeply respected the wildlife on Vancouver Island and treasured each living animal.

Dad even had a raven that frequently hung out on top of a massive press inside his machine shop. Black bears, deer, and the odd cougar also came by to visit when he worked late at night.

Dad was passionate about learning and inspired so many children with his constant curiosity towards life. It was these traits that eventually spear headed decades’ long development of a wildlife taxidermy collection to inspire and educate others.

Loving memories of my dad Thomas Alexander Prestwich

No animals or birds were killed or hunted. All animals died through accidental or natural causes, then were assessed by the conservation officer, prior to their release to my dad. All taxidermy was completed on Vancouver Island and dad would only allow the animals to be portrayed in natural and respectful poses.

Cougars and Wolf

When dad passed away, we knew the Canadian wildlife collection needed to find the perfect home where people would continue to love and respect the animals and environmental education would continue to be emphasized.

After substantial searching, we knew we discovered the perfect new location when we arrived at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Center in Errington.

In addition to the educational areas filled with taxidermy and media presentations; the extensive grounds were a collage of native flora gardens, ponds, and areas where black bear cubs, eagles, and injured or abandoned wildlife could heal and survive.

This non-profit organization is mainly run by volunteers who all love and care about nature and our amazing wildlife. Robin and his wife are passionate leaders who have made such a positive difference in our world. Dad would have adored touring or volunteering at this amazing facility.

The organization is on social media.

On our initial trip to NIWRC we presented the entire collection (for Educational Purposes) except dad’s favorite animal, which was the Wolf.

It is painful to say good-bye to special items when you loose a loved one. But it was time to let go and share this magnificent and rare animal with the world.

Sophia knew something was up and crept hesitantly downstairs to investigate. Her tail fur totally puffed up when she spotted the wolf waiting to be transported to the NIWRC. Curiosity won and she hesitantly approached the wolf.

Sophia meets the Wolf

Ironically, the coloration of the two mammals was so similar. However, within minutes she raced back upstairs then watched from the safety of the door as the wolf was carefully transported into the truck.

Here is a short video of Sophia and the Wolf as we donate this magnificent animal to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Center.

The legacy and future of this magnificent Wolf. May it inspire curiosity, respect, and understanding.

Although much of our family lives in varying areas of Canada, we had 3 generations represented when we donated the Wolf to its new owners/educators. Thankfully this occurred just prior to covid restrictions, so masks were unnecessary for this event.

3 generations of our Prestwich family with Robin (owner) at the drop off location.

My 88 year old Mom, (Patti) was so thrilled to see the family collection on display as Robin (owner) gave us a grand tour of the grounds and educational facilities. My son, Alexander, represented the young adult generation. I represented the middle of the trio.

Thanks for the Beautiful sign at North island wildlife recovery center.

If you are touring through Vancouver Island and enjoy wildlife recovery and learning about Canadian wildlife, this is a amazing facility to explore. Bus loads of curious school children frequented here prior to covid lockdown and will return again soon I am sure!

When we returned home, Sophia made sure we knew it was her turn for attention once again.

Our Sophia letting us know it’s her turn for attention again!

Keep safe and optimistic 😉. The next posts will be adventures around Vancouver Island and skiing at Mt Washington!

Categories
Canada Caring for Humanity Cats Knitting Rescue kitten Vancouver Island

Blankets 4 Canada. How to help from your home.

I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities, freedom, and standard of life we experience living in Canada.

However, people’s journeys in life vary and not all are as fortunate as I am. There are so many ways to be kind and support others. This global pandemic reaffirms the importance of being kind, calm, respectful and understanding towards humanity.

While respecting social distancing, you can join an organization like “Blankets for Canada” where volunteers purchase their own wool and knit or crochet squares to create blankets which are anonymously donated throughout your community.

Creating my first “Blanket for Canada”

There are rules about the types of wool, colours, weight of yarn, size of squares, etc. You may select to just create squares and drop them off at a local pick up location, or create squares and sew them together prior to dropping off a completed blanket. A member from the not-for-profit registered organization checks the blankets, attaches a label, and drops off blankets at multiple locations including: Women’s Safe Shelters, Men’s Shelters, Salvation Army hostels, or city homeless street people.

https://blankets4canada.ca/ This is the Blankets for Canada link if you are interested.

Upon reading about this organization in a community newspaper, I joined the Nanaimo chapter as one of a team of members knitting or crocheting squares to improve the quality of life for struggling community members. Winters are cold and wet here. In addition to giving warmth, our goal is to offer love and hope.

So the knitting vigil began. Sophia (8 month rescue kitten) watched beside me sometimes playing with the wool or sitting on the blanket so I couldn’t knit!

Sophia watching the action!

While working on each square I contemplated the person who might receive this gift. I hoped they knew they were loved, important, and cared about. The squares accumulated and as I neared the goal of 48, I made the decision to also sew them together and complete the entire blanket myself!

So….Off I went to visit one of the head organizers for the Nanaimo branch of Blankets for Canada and received a lesson in organizing squares effectively and techniques to sew them together. My mentor was extremely helpful and encouraging.

Here is a short video of the Blankets for Canada process

The process to create a “Blanket for Canada”

It took an additional couple of weeks to organize the patterns and sew all 48 squares together…with Sophia’s assistance (of course).

When the blanket was completed I added a personal message. A couple of my friends had previously spent time at a Safe House while dealing with domestic violence. I requested the blanket be given to somebody at a Women’s Safe House and heard it was delivered to Haven House. I have no idea who received it, but I hope she feels loved and cared about.

The first 25 squares are knitted for blanket number 2. It will be ready for delivery when covid safety protocols open up again later this year.

If you have spare time during Covid lockdown, this is one idea of a project which could offer hope and love to another individual. Keep safe and optimistic my friends.

Northern Vancouver Island, Mt. Washington skiing, and Sophia assists with house renovations are the next blog posts coming soon.

Categories
Animals Canada Cats Rescue kitten Vancouver Island Winter Snow

Sophia’s Introduction to Snow! (Rescue Kitten)

Flashback to our first snow fall on Vancouver Island this season. This blog post is dedicated to our rescue kitten, Sophia, as she experiences snow for the first time.

Sophia’s first snow season!

Although initially dubious and slightly hesitant to immerse her paws and body in the cold white substance, she quickly embraced the experience tunneling through the snow and even playing with little snowballs. Here’s a short video of her very first reaction to snow!

Sophia’s very first reactions to snow.

During the next few days, the snow continued building slowly. Unlike the majority of areas in Canada, on Vancouver Island our durations of snow are short lived. When the powdery snow arrives, we embrace the beautiful winter wonderland knowing that usually within a few days it will melt and disappear.

January on Vancouver Island — We usually have snow for part of the month.

Sophia had mixed reactions during the snowfall time. She was very curious often watching the snow fall from the doorway, but she also increased her burrowing activity hiding in bags and strange locations.

Rescue kitten anxiety still flares at times

Sophia was fascinated by the falling snowflakes.

Sophia watching the snow

The snow decided to grace us with its presence for a few days as the centimeters increased steadily on our sundeck and around our neighborhood. We parked our vehicles at the top of our little hill as snowplows are rarely required here and cul de sacs are the last to be cleared when a snowfall does occur.

January snowfall in Nanaimo

The moon was full and the winter wonderland was quite magical so we decided to venture out for a walk around our neighborhood in Nanaimo, mid Vancouver Island.

Winter wonderland!

Snow continued falling throughout the night and the following morning Sophia ventured out to explore the sundeck. Her confidence towards this unknown substance had grown and she was now jumping, pouncing, tunneling, and playing with the snow. Her reactions and playful antics brought such wonder and happiness to us all.

So darn cute!

We thoroughly enjoyed our week or so of snow in January and Sophia became very adept at maneuvering through it without snowshoes or skis. Here is a short video of some highlights from her explorations in our yard on Vancouver Island, B.C.

Sophia becomes a snow loving kitten!

As quickly as it arrived, the weather warmed up and the snow melted making way for our next new adventures.

Future blog posts will include: Blankets for Canada, wolves at North Island Wildlife Recovery Center, Sophia helps with house renovations, and Harbour City Newcomers Club adventures. Keep safe and keep optimistic my friends.

Categories
Adventure Cats Exploring Outdoors Nature Travel Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island Paradise! Nature hikes in January!

Time to welcome in a new year! (I’m a bit behind!) Do you enjoy hiking through lush rainforests, or walking adjacent to the ocean where kayaks explore and seals and shorebirds are common? This is our paradise living on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island, British Columbia is a unique island paradise off the west coast of Canada. The “Island” is 460 kilometres (290 miles) in length, 80+ kilometres (50+ miles) in width at the widest point, and 32,134 km2 (12,407 square miles) in area.

Vancouver Island is roughly the same size as Belgium (30,688 km²)or Taiwan (36,193 km²), and much bigger than Israel (20,770 km²), Kuwait (17,818km²) and Jamaica (10,991 km²).

January hike to Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo

Most of our forest areas are rainforest; however, our coastal climate is much more temperate than most of the rest of Canada. This blog post represents some of the beautiful outdoor locations around our home in Nanaimo. Keep in mind, all these adventures occurred during January–Winter in Canada.

Winter time enthusiasts—Kayakers and a person paddling on a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard).

My husband and I love hiking, kayaking, exploring nature, skiing, and so forth. My son does not always share our adventurous ways. Sophia (our rescue kitten) has mixed feelings about outdoor adventures. She is incredibly curious, but likes the comforts of home too. Sophia loves to burrow and sometimes surprises us by hiding under blankets, rugs, cloth, coats, pillows, etc.

Sophia (rescue kitten) aged 7 months

Another January day, another opportunity to explore beaches and beautiful decorated clouds adorning the blue skies.

January beach walk

Nature offers beauty everywhere and there is lots of physical space to explore…

There are dozens and dozens of trails to hike and explore around our home. This short video represents a hike through one of our rainforest trails in winter. You will see a vast array of flora (plant life) from Arbutus to moss and lichen wrapped nurse trees growing fungus between ferns.

Cottle Lake Trail at Linley Valley

Try to use your imagination to hear and see all the bird species who make their homes in our rain forests.

More blog posts of nature and wildlife on Vancouver Island will be coming, but the next post will be “Sophia’s introduction to Snow!”.

Until then….Stay Safe and Keep on Smiling.

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Before Covid 19 Canada Family Vancouver Island Winter Festivities

Memories–The Last Christmas before Covid

As lockdowns continue, I reflect with joy and happy memories of family and freedom during our last Christmas/Festive Season prior to Covid 19. Presenting December 2019 on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada.

Celebrating a beautiful meal with immediate family…

The restaurant in Nanaimo was called “The Modern Cafe”… the delicious entrees were far from “Cafe” fair.

Alexander recommends the house burger too!

Back at the house….My mom presented us with a stunning, colorful quilt which our rescue kitten Sophia instantly proceeded to check out!

Sophia checks out the new quilt

On December 24th we relaxed around the house and played with our kitten Sophia. Tomorrow family would be arriving!

Christmas Eve with immediate family

Sophia (7 months old) is always involved in all activities… and much loved 😽. Our kitten suffers from PTSD from her unknown history before her mother and litter were discovered in the forest. She can be extremely wary and anxious in many settings… but she is content and happy with the 4 of us.

Sophia receives tons of love 💕

We were not blessed with the joy of young children zealous to commence festivities on Christmas morning this year…but we had fun activities planned and more family arriving from other areas of B.C.

Christmas morning fun!

Two trips were anticipated to pick up family members who were crossing by B.C Ferries from the mainland of B.C. to Nanaimo. The first 2 visitors arriving are coming from Prince George — my brother Mark and lovely Begona. Mark’s sister, Ingrid, is also arriving later from Vancouver.

Nothing is quite as wonderful as having family together at Christmas 🥰

Here are a few highlights from our last Christmas and Boxing Day prior to Covid 19. May this happy video bring smiles and memories of times when masks were not necessary and there were no physical spacing limits to worry about.

From our home to yours we wish you peace, happiness, beautiful memories, and optimistic hope of future family Christmas times again soon….

Memories from Family Christmas before Covid
Categories
Before Covid 19 Canada Canadian Animals Cats Family Vancouver Island

Memories–Life before Covid 19. Canadian Nature and Family.

Reflections of December 2019. Our life was so free and hugs were plentiful. Family and friends could gather and interact without masks or 2 meter distancing. This blog post is dedicated to memories of that time and optimistic hope and appreciation for our future …

Our Rescue kitten Sophia learning to trust and love— especially Alexander’s touch.

My son Alexander, and our rescue kitten Sophia, truly bonded while my husband and I were relaxing and exploring around Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I’m so thankful that Alexander decided to return home to Canada prior to the global pandemic after living/working in Bangkok for 6 years as a senior Design Engineer at Western Digital. There is something magical about mother/son reunion hugs!

My son and I (modelling his birthday gift from Thailand).

I am retired after spending 35 years educating students. My husband, Mark, is semi retired. Yet, we are always busy learning and exploring new ideas or commencing new projects. One of our most time consuming projects is home renovation!

Our newly updated kitchen and living area space is such an improvement on the previous version. Although my talented husband completed the majority of the renovations, it was lovely to sit back and have our backsplash completed by a tiling specialist just before Christmas!

Installing kitchen backsplash tiles!

Next…. we removed the protective plastic off the stainless steel appliances! It’s tougher than it looks lol

Exposing the stainless steel

While kitchen renovations kept us occupied indoors, what was happening outdoors near our home?

The Canadian animals on Vancouver Island are busy in the autumn and early winter. Black tailed deer are regular visitors around our yards consuming lots of leaves and plant life while their coats thicken in preparation for upcoming colder temperatures and snow.

Black tailed fawn with winter coat

We have reached a truce with the deer…The backyard is off limits and “deer fenced” to protect our flowers, vegetables, and shrubs. The front yard is open ‘game’ to our nibbly, cute visitors. Does and fawns regularly visit, but bucks are less common in the residential areas. Sophia is fascinated by the deer and often watches or sometimes approaches the fawns as they feed.

Deer and raccoons are common here. Beavers, elk, and black bears are viewed occasionally if you are lucky. But when the cougars come out of the forests and roam freely, we are fascinated–yet greatly concerned.

Cougar with 3 kits on Vancouver Island–December 2019

Cougar attacks on people are rare, but can occur if nature’s balance is upset, or a cougar is sick or starving. This cougar (with 3 kits) was photographed by a friend in a nearby community in December.

How does our rescue kitten, Sophia, react to all the action inside and outdoors? With definite mixed emotion….

I’ll just be cute and allow Alexander to stroke me…

That’s enough! Time to climb some trees and chase some deer!

Next, it’s time to string popcorn, decorate the tree together while listening to festive music and drinking eggnog, and enjoy the festivities leading up to Christmas.

December events

Time to enjoy family (mom is arriving soon) and good friends. Our art isn’t up yet on the walls, but we are so excited to socialize with those we care deeply about.

We’re ready!

How lovely it was to socialize with friends we haven’t been able to visit now for nearly 1 1/2 years. How grateful we will feel when once again we can share meals together in our homes.

Even Sophia approves!

This blog post was a mixture of memories and events from December 2019. The next post will be memories and fun from the last festive season before the global pandemic. Stay tuned. It’s coming soon!

Categories
Adventure Before Covid 19 Canada Mexico Playa del Carmen Travel

Magnificent Mexico! Our Last International Destination before Covid.

December 2019 (Memories)

Swimming in one of the pools at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort
Swimming in one of the pools at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. December 2019

My husband surprised me by planning a special destination trip, to bring in a certain decade birthday, in a very memorable way. Who would have known that this trip to Mexico would be our final International trip for an unknown time due to the global pandemic? No masks. No hand sanitizer or washing stations in sight! No physical and social distancing yet. Presenting our trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico in December 2019.

The B.C. Provincial museum exhibit Maya The Great Jaguar Rises. Victoria, B.C.

Conveniently, prior to our departure, The British Columbia Provincial Museum in Victoria was running an exbibit entitled Maya The Great Jaguar Rises. We drove 110 km south on Vancouver Island to our capital city of Victoria excited to gain insight and learn about the Mayan culture and history. The information about the archaeological site of Chichen Itza was fascinating and we vowed to visit the actual site while in the Playa del Carmen area.

Prior to our Mexico bound departure, we enjoyed touring our capital city of Victoria. Yes. It is winter time on Vancouver Island, Canada.

The capital city of B.C. is Victoria. Yes. This is during the Canadian winter on Vancouver Island.

My son Alexander also purchased a sweet white Mazda 3 car. Our bags were packed, it was time to travel! Our float plane from Nanaimo to Vancouver departed at sunrise. In spite of some rain, the view of the islands and activity around the channel is always engaging. Conversation is limited though, as this mode of travel is very noisy! From Vancouver airport we boarded Westjet to fly via Calgary to Cancun.

Our float plane flight to Vancouver. Followed by our flight arriving in Cancun.

We departed Nanaimo, Western Canada at sunrise and were famished when we arrived in Cancun, Mexico at sunset. However, we soon discovered that there were more line ups and waits ahead prior to arriving at our resort in Playa del Carmen. The WestJet holiday package promised to have a representative meet us and take us to our resort. Hundreds of tourists were in a similar situation. Eventually, we were divided up and put on various buses. The bus we were allocated to stopped at 5 or 6 resorts, and Sandos Playacar Beach Resort was last on its agenda.

The long adventure from Cancun airport eventually eating dinner at 10:30 p.m.

It was dark and the restaurants were about to close when we finally arrived at our resort. Although tired and a little disillusioned, the lobby was spacious, bright and inviting. The staff were friendly and helpful. Our room was fabulous and the grounds looked clean and enticing. The restaurant staff welcomed us staying open late and served us a most delightful meal. We could not wait to see the resort in the daylight and make the most of our all inclusive resort.

This was our view at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort the morning after…. December 1st 2019.

Sandos Playacar Beach Resort, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Dec. 2019

Although we like to explore and be active, we allocated this day to chill and relax around the resort exploring the pools and the ocean. We donned 50 sunscreen and slowly, carefully added some color to our winter time pale Canadian skins. Mark was approached by one of the beach vendors to purchase some Cuban cigars. He thought they were great!

Mark enjoying his Cuban cigars.

We had a wonderful day. The following video depicts some of the fun and highlights of our first full day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico including an AC/DC tribute band in the evening.

Our first full day at our Mexican resort

Tomorrow we have a private full day tour planned — Chichen Itza, swimming in cenotes, and learning about Mayan culture. Guess what I’ll be blogging about next?

Categories
Adventure Animals Canada Cats Pets Rescue kitten

Sophia’s Freedom (4-6 months)

Based on estimates from several veterinarians, Sophia’s probable birth was late May. We adopted this little rescue kitten when she was approximately 7 weeks of age after she was discovered in the woods near Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island. Sophia’s markings are quite unique and gorgeous. Her cat coloring is classified as a blue diluted Tortie with white.

Little Sophia. Aged 4 months.

Sophia continues to suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and can be aggressive and anxious; but she is learning to trust and adapt to our family and neighborhood.

Her snuggles are becoming more frequent and she truly melts our hearts. One moment she is fascinated watching water drip through a drain, the next she is burrowing and hiding.

But whether Sophia is curious or timid, playful or resting, aggressive or calm; she is always amusing and unpredictable.

Sophia’s happy place is definitely outside exploring the yard and climbing trees. So with her recent freedom (at aged 4 1/2 months) to explore the outdoors, came the responsibility of wearing a collar and a bell! She was not impressed!

We started with a safety quick-release collar with no bell. After several attempts, she eventually decided to leave it on and not rip it off anymore. Next, we introduced a safety quick-release collar with a bell attached. It took persistence, and eventually she gave in to wearing that collar too.

Sophia exploring the bushes and trees in our yard.

Sophia has long, incredibly sharp claws (trust me!) and a light muscular body. She leaps up fence panels and literally nearly flies through the air at times. She seems quite fearless outside in nature.

Look carefully at the trunk of the Hemlock tree… Sophia is camouflaged in her position to the left of the tallest silver ladder. She zipped up the tree with her legs spread-eagled apart at an incredible speed. At approximately 5 metres from the ground, her pace slowed and she stopped holding on to the tree trunk. Then she proceeded in reversing by backing down (spread eagled) until about 2 metres from the ground, turned her body around still attached to the tree, then jumped down head first to land on the ground. She has clearly done this before, or has incredible survival instincts!

Sophia is always curious and wanting to be included when we work in the yard.

Whenever we work around the yard, Sophia thinks it is playtime and she happily races around the yard and climbs trees near us. She seems to have a playful sense of humour. She loves to hide, then leap out and tag me on the leg (no claws)or hide in a tree and tap me on the head if I am gardening below her. She is also getting quite interactive with my husband and adult son.

Sophia helping out with kitchen renovations!

Sophia is always curious and her trust has grown to the level where she now investigates whatever we are involved with. Sometimes we end up with extra little white paw prints in unexpected areas!

All this activity can be quite exhausting for a 5-6 month old kitten. She is such an expressive, cute little sleeper!

My adult son, Alexander, returned home to Canada after living/working in Bangkok, Thailand for 6 years. Thankfully, he arrived home just prior to the Covid pandemic! Sophia’s circle now extends to my husband and I, Alexander, my mother, and the neighborhood deer.

Our home and street in Nanaimo

Having my son home opened up the freedom for my husband and I to escape south to Mexico! Little did we know this would be our final International trip for an unknown duration due to the Covid 19 global pandemic. Playa del Carmen, Mexico here we come!!!

Mexico here we come! (Prior to Covid!)

Categories
Adventure Canada Introduction Travel

Adventures and Contemplations from Sandy’s Perspective

The year 2020 was challenging and the covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented change. However, 2021 offers renewed optimism and a fresh start. There will be new ways to explore, have adventures, stretch comfort zone levels, and develop new insights. My blog is my chosen venue to share my story.

Background information is provided by clicking on the Menu (upper right). The Search feature assists quick location of previous blog posts including travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Northern B.C., Canada, and Mexico. You are welcome to join my journey. Virtual Hugs Sandy.