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Here goes…..

This was my post on Facebook a few days ago.  Very grateful for the support I’ve received from my friends and family re this little adventure of mine.  They’ve boosted my confidence in my product and my capability to pull this off.  As my niece mentioned, no matter what, I’ll have lots of stories to tell afterwards.

I have always been very uncomfortable going to Craft Fairs. I feel bad if I don’t look at someone’s table and I imagine them looking at me with pleading in their eyes – pick me, pick me. If I do look at someone’s product and not buy, I feel worse. So, I usually avoid going or if I do, I literally sprint down the aisles, eyes straight ahead (oh God don’t let me make eye contact with any vendor!).

So, if you are still reading, you’ll think I’m crazy when I tell you, I’m going to be a vendor in a Craft Fair this weekend!!!!!!!! Yep, you read right. OMG. For those of you who live in the area, PLEASE do not attend. I would feel that you would feel obligated to buy something from that vendor who is sitting there with her eyes toward the floor, so that customers don’t feel bad if they aren’t interested in her cards/bookmarks!!

Thanks for listening. Phew.

Guess what everyone’s getting for Christmas if I don’t sell any!

My table will look something like this (well, maybe not close, cause it’s been changed 10 times already!).



I survived!  I certainly didn’t sell as much as what I had hoped but it was a great experience.  I met some lovely people, had great conversations and some laughs.  I am very grateful for the nice compliments I received about my work and photography.

I was of course in the parking lot 20 minutes earlier than when I was permitted to enter the night before to set up.  I was happy with how my table looked although not nearly as ‘professional’ looking as other vendors.

An elderly(ish) vendor browsed through the bookmarks before the doors opened.  She picked up one, read it and burst into tears.  I said ‘oh, I’m sorry’.  She sniffed and replied that it just ‘got to her’.  It was a photo of paw prints in the sand with a quote from Wil Rogers “If dogs don’t go to heaven, when I die I want to go where they went.”  She told me that her beloved dog had died 15 years ago and she still misses his terribly.  She had a tattoo of him on her arm, that she kept rubbing.  She walked away, still in tears.  Later in the day her daughter came up to my table to buy the bookmark.  I told her that she could just take it.  She argued a bit then thanked me and walked away with it.

I gave away others, for various reasons!


Had interesting conversations about local birds in the area and of course met some other Albertans who are enjoying this great island.

All in all a good day.  Would I do it again?  No!  But, I’m proud of myself for going through with it.  Geesh, I sound like I just completed boot camp or something!


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Better Get Going

I cannot fathom the thought of being late – for ANYTHING. If I could relive the minutes I’ve spent sitting in my car waiting for a ‘not too early’ time to show up for an appointment or meeting, I’d probably add years to my life! When I worked I always arrived a half hour prior to my scheduled start time. It’s almost (well okay, probably is) an obsession. My heart literally starts to pound if I think I am going to be late. No doubt it is irksome for Mark. How annoying it must be for him to have to get to the airport 2 hours before the flight, only so that we can sit at the gate for at least an hour before they even start to board. Or, sitting in the line to get on the ferry for an hour or more. I’m well known for this quirk or whatever it is. Leah let Mark know last week that she showed up 45 minutes prior to her flight but the line up at security was huge so the airline employee had to escort her through the Nexus line and when she got on the flight, (no doubt the last to get on), all the bins were full so she had to gate-check her carry-on bag. She said something to the effect that ‘oh God, Debbie would have died’. Yep, I would have!

Guess it goes without saying that I simply cannot understand people who have no regard for time, or other people’s time and arrive late on a continuous basis. I sometimes think it’s inconsiderate and quite honestly, rude. I know that sounds harsh and I really should lighten up and not judge.  My (borderline!) obsession is inconsiderate too.  I should think about the quality time I could have spent with loved ones, had I not been in such a crazed rush to head out to where I was going.  Will try to remind myself of this when that heart starts to pound again.


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A Fine Balance

I was feeling kind of morose and sad this morning.   My favourite remedy for this mood is to head to the beach.  It’s certainly not a cure all but it’s a wonderful, peaceful place to just be and to reflect.

Before I left, I picked out a book to donate to the Beach Lending Library and I selected some bookmarks I had made from my photos to hand out and leave in the Library.  When I got to the beach, almost the first thing I saw was a beautiful heron, walking along the shore.  Behind it, far out, was a ship.  My first thought was damn it, where’s my camera!  I was feeling sorry for myself for missing what could have been awesome shots. I took a picture with my phone (which obviously didn’t turn out, and that’s ok – see below).IMG_0273

I left the book and a bookmark in the Library and decided to walk along the boardwalk a little more, still regretting that I didn’t have my camera.  I saw an elderly man with a huge pair of binoculars looking out to sea.  He had a little dog with a crocheted coat, sitting at his feet.  He saw me looking at his binoculars and he asked if I wanted to take a look.  I thanked him and watched the ship for a bit.  He said it was the Coast Guard.  I told him he had a cute dog, to which he replied ‘yeah, he’s my baby’.   He beamed when he explained that a neighbour lady had crocheted the coat and he thought the dog was very proud of it – now he runs up to people as if to say ‘see my new coat’.   We had a chuckle and I handed him one of my bookmarks that said ‘a true friend leaves paw prints on your heart’.  He said ‘wow, you made this?’; then he touched his heart and said ‘yes, that’s right, paw prints’.  I thanked him again and walked on.

It occurred to me that as much as I was upset about not having my camera, perhaps in the past I’ve missed some opportunities like this, because I was so ‘focused’ (pardon the pun) on getting the shot.  It really was wonderful to watch the heron, with just my eyes, walking gracefully down the shore.  I’ve had many conversations with lovely strangers when I did have my camera, but I could have had more.

It was a nice life lesson for me today – find the balance between your hobby and the moment.  From now on, when I don’t have my camera, I’ll try to just be appreciative of what I’m seeing, only with my eyes.  And, when I do have my camera, I’m going to put it down sometimes to see what I may be missing.




Our local paper randomly select people on the street to ask them their opinion on current topics.  Last week they chose the dear man and his dog that I had given a bookmark to and he had kindly shared his binoculars with me.  Was so nice to see them again.  The dog’s name is Benny!




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The ‘hood

Almost every morning I set out for a walk.  Some days I only manage 2 – 3 miles, others it could be 5 – 6, depending on how I feel that day.  I have always enjoyed walking and in the past it has sure helped me keep semi-fit and lose weight. Now, as I’ve retired, I find another aspect of it ( the fitness/losing weight benefit doesn’t seem to be working!) – the great scenery, the beach, and getting to see/know the people in our ‘hood.

I have mentioned before how friendly people here in our little community.  Most everyone  I pass during my walk, greets me with a warm ‘good morning’, a comment on the weather or just a nice ‘hello’ and a smile.

Given these experiences, I was a little take aback when I met up with an elderly(ish) gentleman and his little orange dog walking toward me one day.  I gave him a bright smile and said ‘good morning’.  His response was barely audible and almost like a grumpy sigh (do I have to speak to this woman), ‘mornin’.  I thought he might be just having a bad or sad day.

It became apparent that him and his dog and I had the same morning routine.  I often meet him on my walk and his response was always the cranky sounding ‘mornin’.  I started to refer to him as  ‘cranky pants’ in my mind.   I grin to myself when I see him approach.  Poor guy obviously thinks – oh no, her again.  Some days when I’m not in such a great mood, I don’t even say anything to him and he doesn’t initiate a ‘mornin’ either.

I also tend to meet up with another gentlemen most mornings.  Without trying to make assumptions or judging (but I guess I am doing both), I would surmise he’s had a rough life.  I would also surmise that he is working really hard at turning his life around.  He has a sparkle in his eye and a big smile when he says ‘good mornin’.  I’ve seen him at the beach as well, looking out at the water with a reflective stance.

I was recently following a woman walking ahead of me for a few blocks.  She stopped and said that she knew there was someone behind her.  We walked together for the rest of the way home – she lives in the condo complex across from our house.  Irene barely took a breath; she talked nonstop for 3 blocks.  I heard of her ill health, her husband’s recent medical tests, their plans for the winter, where they’ve lived over the last 20 years.  When we stopped at the junction to our homes she said ‘thanks, I needed that’.  Not sure what she needed but I enjoyed her company.

I walk past a seniors complex every day.  It’s clear that the residents range from very functional to bed-ridden.  The path I take goes in front of some of the lower level windows.  Often I see a resident sitting in a wheelchair looking out.  In every window is a little personal keepsake – an ornament, stuffed animal, ceramic church.  There are afghans, pictures and pillows visible from their windows.  I get sad when I walk by because its clear that some of the residents are looking out, but they are not really seeing.  Or, if they are, they are wishing they were in another place.

Last week I heard a knock, knock from a second story window.  A lovely lady was standing there, waving at me.  I vigorously waved back with a big smile.  A few days later, I saw her again so I waved happily.  Oops, wrong room – the woman looked at me like ‘who the heck are you?’!!

It is comforting and refreshing to meet familiar faces living in this smaller community.  We all go about our own personal lives but we have that bit of commonality in our ‘hood and from what I can tell, we all like it here.





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‘Whatcha up to today?’

On January 7th my post Gratitude included being thankful for the clerk in Shoppers asking me ‘whatcha up to today’.  The first time I met her was the week we had just arrived in Parksville and were living in a rented condo until the possession date of our house.  I was feeling a little out of sorts and certainly stressed.  Lots of life changes in that week.  Although I think Calgary is one of the friendliest big cities there is, I was yet to ever hear the same type of remark from a clerk I didn’t know.  I remember thinking in Oct. that it was so refreshing to have been greeted with what I assimilated a small town genuine gesture.

I told the clerk that we had just moved here so we had lots on the go.  She asked me where I was from and when I told her Calgary, she almost screamed ‘I used to live there and my ex mother-in-law still does’.  She went on for quite awhile about the different places she had lived and then, as she handed me my receipt, she said, meeting my eyes and with a big big  smile ‘Welcome – I know you’ll love it here’.

I walked away smiling too and thinking how refreshing.  Although I did catch a glimpse of the kind of annoyed faces of the people behind me in line.  Perhaps she’d spent a little too much time chatting!

I mentioned the experience to my hair stylist.  She knew exactly who the clerk was and had a similar interaction with her.

I had the pleasure of having her ring up my stuff a few times in the past 7 months since we’ve been here.  Her attitude has always been the same and her smile was always there, with everyone.  The last time I saw her at Shoppers she had dyed her hair shades of pink and purple.

Yesterday I was in one of the local liquor stores.  There were 2 cashiers on duty.  I noticed right away that the cashier with her back towards me had a completely shaved head.  As I was sliding my wine to the cashier in my line, the other cashier said to the lady behind me ‘I can help you over here’.  The lady said to her ‘didn’t you work at Shoppers?’.  I said ‘yes, I was thinking the same thing’.  The cashier looked at us, smiled and nodded.  I overheard the lady behind me say to the cashier ‘do you like your new hairdo?’.  The cashier said she didn’t know but that she would be having treatment so she thought she would get a head start on things, or something to that effect.

I watched her demeanour and it was calmer, quieter – I don’t think I was imagining that.  I felt so sad driving home.   I hope that she will be okay and that she has a good support system and that she knows how her lovely attitude in retail has, I’m sure, positively affected many of her customers.  It did me.





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I have many memories of my Dad’s fondness of birds.  As mentioned in the Eulogy I wrote for his service, my dearest memory is of him cutting up worms on Mom’s breadboard for the baby robins in the nest on their veranda.  Needless to say, Mom was not impressed!

I remember him being so sad when he realized that a momma robin had abandoned one of her babies in the nest.  It didn’t know how to fly yet.  Dad fed him for a few days and then he felt it best to let nature take it’s course.  He gently lifted it out of the nest and put in in his garden.  He never saw it again.


When we were driving back to Calgary after his funeral we noticed a crow seemingly to be leading us on.  We had to go very slow as the roads were treacherous.  The crow would fly a few hundred feet, seem to wait for us to catch up on the side of the road, then fly ahead again.  Eventually, he just flew off.  In my grief, I thought perhaps maybe that crow represented Dad, letting us know he was still with us.  It brought me comfort.

Since retiring and moving to Parksville, my love for birds has increased.  I am constantly on the look-out for them and am amazed at the varieties we have here.  My brother has been equally taken with them for years.  When he worked he would tell me stories of all the different kinds he’d seen and fed in the fields.  He told me of a time when he saw a lone duck who looked exhausted, walking the prairie field.  There wasn’t any water anywhere so he managed to box him up and take him to the nearest pond.  The duck swam away happily.  Jim and I have great conversations about birds now and I’ve learned a lot about them from him.   We will always have that bond – no matter how long our time together on this earth is.









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Grateful for the opportunity.

Today I was walking in the toy section of Fields looking for my next jigsaw puzzle (that could be another post!).  I overheard a mom guiding her little daughter through the aisle, pointing out some toys she may be interested in with the money she got from Grandma for her Birthday.  The mom even mentioned that it would be ok to get a toy that boys like, if she wanted.  The little girl was so sweet.  She was about 3 – little white dress on, bright pink runners and pink streaks in her hair as well.  Obviously the mom was a loving mom, explaining all the different toys and what she might like about each one.

I picked out my puzzle, did a bit more browsing around the store and then got in the line behind the mom and little girl.  While they were waiting for the people ahead of them to finish up, the mom explained to her daughter that they may not be able to afford the tea set chosen but she would see what the price was.  The cashier asked the mom if she just wanted to see how much the set was.  The mom nodded.  ‘$15.98’ the cashier announced.  The mom shook her head and said ok thanks, reaching for the set to put it back on the shelf.

I  said ‘I’ve got it’.  The mom’s face went red and said no, it’s ok.  I said ‘ it was her Birthday, right?  I’m happy to get it’.  The mom said over and over ‘are you sure?’.  I said yes.  She reached in her pocket and tried to give me a $5.00 bill (or maybe there were two fives).  I said no, it’s ok.  The mom kept repeating that she couldn’t believe it, tears running down her face.  I asked the little girl her name (couldn’t quite make it out).  Mom told her to say thank you and she did.

The cashier said ‘that was very nice of you but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen this happen in this wonderful community’.

We walked out of the store together.  She asked me my name and I asked her hers.  She said her daughter’s birthday was actually on Mother’s Day and that ‘you don’t know what this means to me, I’m going to pay it forward’.  We wished each other a good day and I walked back to my car.

This post isn’t intended to sound like I’m this wonderful person by buying a little girl a toy.  It’s meant to be about how good it feels to do it – I almost feel selfish about it.  While I know I made the mom and little girl happy, it did more than that for me.





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What a cool day!

A friend from Qualicum Beach mentioned to me that we must go to Seedy Saturday. It’s a wonderful annual event for gardeners and we would enjoy it. Mark was keen as we had been talking about getting advice for our garden. I mentioned it to my Hair Stylist and she was all pumped about it saying ‘it’s what we do here Debbie; we grow things’.

I also mentioned it to my friend in Calgary, different response! ‘Seedy Saturday, is that like at the Cecil Hotel?’

Mark’s comment this morning was priceless: “that would be the day that I thought I would be getting up on a Saturday and the highlight of the day would be to go look at seeds!” I told him we better go early as it’s likely to be a popular event and very busy.  He smirked and said “Debbie, this is Parksville” (I corrected him and told him that it was actually in Qualicum Beach).

We drove to Qualicum and literally could not find a parking spot for blocks.  Crazy.  We walked into the Civic Centre, past the woman with the sign that said Save our Seaweed, gave our donation and wow, we faced wall to wall people – you could hardly move.  I must say it was like going back into the 60’s or 70’s.  I have never seen so many ‘wholesome’ people gathered in one spot since Enderby in that era. There were vendors from all over the island and surrounding islands – Denman, Gabriola, Salt Spring.   Everyone seemed to know what they were talking about and growing your own garden from seed seems to be a very serious business here.   Did you know you could grow Quinoa from seed?  I had just learned how to say it!

I bought myself some wildflower seeds, some sweet pea seeds, poppy seeds and 4 Dahlia tube (root thingys).  Got some great advice about certain plants in our garden, with not much of a ‘you didn’t know that?’ look!

We then went to the Farmer’s Market – no beef jerky there for Mark!!!  Walking back to the car, we smelled a big whiff of pot!  Perfect.  That’s what we needed to end the outing.  It was a glorious day and another affirmation that we have chosen the best community for us to retire.


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Jan. 7, 2014

It is three months today that we moved into our new home and it’s just a week over three months since I retired. I know that we should all be grateful for everything we have and through my later, more mature years, I think I have been, but not like this. Wow! How blessed I am. Here is just a taste of some of the blessings in my present life that I have given thanks for these last three months, in no particular order or importance:

  • I am healthy (as far as I know)
  • I am loved
  • Mark and our families
  • I live in a beautiful home, community, island, province
  • I previously lived in a beautiful home, city, province
  • I worked for a great company that has allowed me this lifestyle at a relatively young age (not to mention the wonderful travel benefits)
  • I had the best sister anyone could ask for. This grief that I continue to feel is ok (other than wishing she had never been sick and was still here). It does make me realize how lucky I was to have had her for a sister. She gave me the best niece, nephews and brother in law anyone could ask for. She is not physically here but she lives on among us and I know she is happy we are close.
  • I can see the ocean every day, and I do
  • I love that the clerk in Shopper’s Drug Mart says to me ‘whatcha up to today?’
  • I now shop at Stedmans and Fields – hadn’t said those words for 40 years, til I moved here!
  • I now own a kettle – tea is good on a rainy day
  • We are golfing tomorrow. Are you kidding me? Jan. 9th in Canada??
  • I do my jigsaw puzzle at night, sometimes til midnight, drinking Chamomile tea
  • We have booked a Mediterranean cruise for June
  • We appear to have great neighbours. Look forward to getting to know them better
  • Everyone has a dog here. No matter where I walk or go, I see a dog. We’ll have another one day too.
  • Everyone you meet on walks, in stores, at the water says Hi or at least acknowledges you with a smile or nod.


To be continued……… 🙂




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