Presenting Sophia–our Rescue Kitten from Port McNeill area on northern Vancouver Island.
After speaking with the family who had located Sophia, her mother, and her sisters and brothers; we drove the 350 km distance north west up island to adopt this little waif. The kittens had been rescued from the woods of rural Port McNeill, where sadly they had been dumped!
Reflecting back now, we really knew such a minimal amount about Sophia’s background and the initial weeks after her birth. Sophia won my heart immediately and I wanted to protect her! We named her after Sofia (Sophia) Loren. This tiny kitten was so attractive and had markings similar to eye liner near her eyes reminding me of this beautiful Italian actress who wore a trademark of ample eye liner.
Travel was challenging because Sophia was very anxious and meowed pitifully. Once we arrived at her new home she explored, burrowed under things and eventually fell asleep.
The first few months were a transition for Sophia and us! We saw several different vets as Sophia had quite severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from her short life experiences prior to us. We sure wished we had more information to assist her transition and help her feel less anxious.
Sophia was prescribed daily anti anxiety medication as well as using a Feliway Diffuser to assist keeping her more calm. Sophia was extremely dependent on me and would get very fearful if I departed from her sight.
Luckily, I had recently retired so I could focus my attention on Sophia’s emotional development. She was slowly expanding her circle of adults she trusted, but was still angrily scratching and meowing to escape outdoors. More vet consultations determined that Sophia was NOT intended to be solely an indoor cat. She was spayed early at 4 months, with the goal that by 4 1/2 months she could be introduced to the outdoors.
Her first taste of freedom was sweet!
I was worried that Sophia might run away, but she did not! She raced around the yard in ecstasy leaping, smelling, racing up trees, and experiencing her new freedom!
From 4 1/2 months of age, Sophia officially became an indoor/outdoor cat. During rainy, windy weather she tends to stay indoors more. During late Spring, Summer, and early Autumn, Sophia spends more time outdoors. We reside in an area with lots of forest, and our immediate neighbors love Sophia!
Sophia checks in with us multiple times a day and usually comes when she is called. Initially she was fearful of other cats and animals, but her curiosity generally wins out. Sophia loves to watch Mark work and is always very curious and helpful!
She is also learning to trust more people and her affectionate side is developing. Sophia clearly trusts and adores my son Alexander.
Sophia’s curiosity is endless and her antics keep us entertained ! After 6-7 months of age her anxiety started reducing and we were able to slowly withdraw all medical supports. She continues to be fearful of more than about 5-6 people at a time, loud noises, and unknown or unfamiliar things. We love her and she is definitely a much loved member of our household. Even her excessive scratching is ever so slowly decreasing!
Sophia was truly fascinated by snow and had a fabulous time tunneling and high stepping through it on our deck and in the yard. But she was also quick to run back inside to get warm and dry!
This video highlights the second half of Sophia’s first year with us!
Happy 1st Birthday Sophia! You have come a long, long way baby!
The next blog posts will focus on hiking and kayaking adventures around mid Vancouver Island. Stay safe and keep smiling my friends.
Despite Covid health regulations and restrictions enforcing citizens to remain in their health regions of British Columbia, Canada; the beauty of Spring blossoms, sunshine, and diverse nature opportunities from hiking to beach walking around beautiful Vancouver Island brought daily smiles and optimism.
Our neighborhood is surrounded by an abundance of huge evergreen trees particularly Cedar and Douglas Fir interspersed with Arbutus and a smattering of other varieties including: Spruce, Pine, and Dogwood. The trees vary in height, but many stand 60–120 feet tall! Bird songs and calls are constant entertainment and wild deer and rabbits visit regularly.
We adore nature and embrace the beauty and sounds around us. But…As the trees increase in stature, our views decrease. So…When we hear chainsaws and see Tree Falling companies arriving to remove an unsafe tree, the people in the neighborhood come out to witness the event!
Even the neighborhood deer family came to check out the event!
Spring fever and sunny days gave me incentive to stain the fence in the backyard! As our new roof and gutters are slate/granite colored, I decided to stain the back corner fence to match. As always, Sophia assisted and was by my side to encourage me.
When the sun is shining, our choice is to spend as much time as possible outdoors during lockdown. When the weather shifts to rainy, gusty days…this time is a gift for working indoors organizing, sorting photos and revisiting memorabilia. May I present 3 generations of Alex? My beloved dad, Alex, passed away in 2007. As a globetrotter, he reminisced of his trips and informed me that when in Scotland he was called “Sandy”. My only son, Alexander, also follows the name tradition.
More rainy days brought more blogging and reminiscing. Many years ago….my son and I won a zodiac whale watching adventure out of Tofino. It was stormy and a bit rough travelling by zodiac. We got totally drenched! The highlights were Humpbacks and Grey whales sleeping and some sea lions playing in the surf.
It was fun…but we are spoiled coming from northern Vancouver Island where Orca pods, Seals, Sea Lions, Pacific white sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoise, and Humpback whales roam on a regular basis.
Dedicated to my family….Here is a short video showing some flashbacks from the 1950’s onward.
Birds are plentiful around our home, but the Juncos are particularly bold and don’t seem to mind the rainy days.
In mid May 2020, during lockdown, my 87 year old mom (in excruciating pain) was transported by ambulance from her home to the hospital in isolated Port Hardy. Although I was not permitted to be with her due to Covid lockdown, it was discovered that she was passing several large kidney stones!
After several days, they transferred mom via ambulance from Port Hardy to the Campbell River Hospital 230 km south for further tests and to see a specialist. It was on the parking lot outside the hospital that we were finally permitted to see one another. This was a very emotional and stressful reality of Covid lockdown. In spite of mom’s suffering and fear, it is evident by her smile that having family support means the world.
I was not permitted to see my mom for hours after I first arrived north in Campbell River from Nanaimo 155 km south. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day and I walked along the Campbell River shoreline trying to gather a more peaceful, calm perspective.
After the hospital allowed a quick outdoor visit with mom, I was sent away again and asked to remain in the Campbell River area. The Campbell River Estuary is a favorite location of ours to go for an easy walk, or kayak paddle around the estuary and into the ocean.
The weather was changing as storm cloud formations and lighting portrayed stunning art in the sky.
The seals entertained between float plane landings while I waited for an update from the hospital. The sunset at the Estuary was sublime.
At 7:30 p.m. I received a call that mom (dressed in her pajamas and robe) was being discharged from the hospital. The ambulance was gone and there were no buses north to Port Hardy until the following day! That meant that my 87 year old physically challenged mom was released on her own, without support, 230 km from her home during Covid lockdown!
Thankfully, I was able to pick mom up and drive her back to her home in Port Hardy. Keep in mind, this was a 230 km road trip, during the dark of night, through lengthy sections of isolation without any (or extremely limited) cell coverage, little possibility of any gas stations open en route, no medical support if the kidney stones flared again, my mom is 87 years old–and it is Covid lockdown! Mom was quite stressed and I was not impressed that this could truly be a plausible option!???
It was a stressful 230 km trip during the dark of night and we were incredibly grateful to arrive safely in Port Hardy. Mom is now a huge advocate of drinking lots of water and taking apple cider pills! We are both Kidney Stones’ survivors and do not wish this pain on anybody!!
The next blog post will explore the nature and beautiful beaches around Port Hardy, heading south down Vancouver Island through Campbell River, and around Parksville and Nanaimo.
In addition on May 28th our beautiful rescue kitten, Sophia, will turn 1 year old! Keep Optimistic and Safe. The world is opening up again soon…
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!
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.
Sophia is extremely expressive and her antics generate laughs and discussions which truly brightened our days during lockdown periods.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
More nearby early signs of Spring to help a person feel grounded and grateful.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keep safe and optimistic 😉. The next posts will be adventures around Vancouver Island and skiing at Mt Washington!