Monthly Archives: May 2013

Ralphie’s Report Card

It was time for a really good session at the PetSmart groomers for Ralphie. |She’d had such a busy month full of forest walks, lake swims, and grass rolling that the house was starting to smell like a national park. So off we went and dropped her off for her spa day. And when Jamjarjude and I picked her up she was fresh as a daisy. Complete with a pretty red bandana.

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Before we left they gave JJJ Ralphie’s report card. “Ralphie was really good today. She was very happy today and very well-behaved. We hope to see her again soon.”

Good dog!

www.petsmart.com/grooming

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Road Trip to Victoria, Part 2

After our delicious lunch at Ottavio’s deli in Oak Bay Village, Victoria — www.ottaviovictoria.com — Jamjarjude, Ralphie and I hopped back in the car and headed back to Nanaimo. But we made a stop at the Goldstream National Park — www.goldstreampark.com — just¬†before we hit the dreaded Malahat (crazy road, crazy drivers) — the main road out of Victoria.

Running through the centre of the park is a salmon-spawning river.

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No salmon there this time of the year, but there are signs along the river which explain the whole cycle.

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I’d love to go back when the salmon are running, although the salmon also bring out the bears. ūüôā

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It was a lovely day, and the forest was cool and quiet, the path springy underfoot from bark and moss. We followed the river…

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…passing the knarled trunks of dead “wildlife” trees — homes to insects for birds like woodpeckers…

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…pass “nurse” trees sprouting octopus-like growth…

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…past fallen trees, which Ralphie had to inspect…

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…and the stumps of long-gone giants.

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The saskatoon berries were starting to ripen… bear candy…

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…and¬†plants were unfurling into their full glory on the forest floor.

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All along our walk, the river rippled beside us…

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…tempting Ralphie for a drink…

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…and a Canada goose for a wade.

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Eventually we came out of the forest onto a marshland where the streams were full of the honks and squawks of ducks and geese…

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…a lovely place for a picnic… some day.

Then we retraced our steps, piled back into the car and headed up to Nanaimo. But our day wasn’t quite finished yet! Jamjarjude made a turn off the highway to Shawnigan Lake. “I know a little place for lunch,” she said.

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It was off the beaten track. So unassuming it was easy to drive by. But, oh, what you miss if you drive by! The West Arm Grill — www.westarmgrill.com .

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With a view out over the lake from our table by the window…

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…and the most delicious spinach salad I’ve ever eaten.

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Yes, I do actually eat salad sometimes. (JJJ had the caesar salad which she gave a thumbs up too).

Road Trip to Victoria, Part 1

Jamjarjude, Ralphie and I set off on a road trip to Victoria the other day so that I could renew my passport. I’m off to the UK in June for the summer staying with my sister Tootsie and her family, and will write my blog over there, sans Princess Ralphie and JJJ. So I’ll be a girlwithoutadogand(with)goodshoes. But no doubt my 4-year-old nephew Hankenstein will be joining me on my adventures, so that should add a novel twist to things.

So, off we three were. We made an early stop in Ladysmith to fuel up on java and home-made squares at the Bean Time Cafe.road trip may 006

Let me tell you, when you have the opportunity to eat squares baked by a Canadian, do it! It’s one of our unsung talents.

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After our sugar shot (maple pecan for Jamjarjude and a macaroon brownie for me), we trundled off down the highway. A quick stop into the passport office in Victoria, then we were off to walk on one of the many lovely beaches along the Victoria waterfront with Ralphie.

The wildflowers were out. Clover….

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…poppies….

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…yellow lupins…

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…and sweat peas scrambling over driftwood.

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And speaking of driftwood…

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…and the view… beautiful.

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It was getting on to lunchtime so we headed off to Oak Bay Village and found a wonderful Italian cafe/deli, Ottavio, www.ottaviovictoria.com

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…where we shared a board of cheeses and salami with fresh bread and pickles. We couldn’t resist a bag of their tempting cookies¬†to fortify us on our drive back to Nanaimo. Perfecto!

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A Little Bit of Mexican Kitsch

We were thirsty. We`d been to Victoria and back to the passport office — I managed to get in my passport renewal by the skin of my teeth before my flight to the UK in two weeks — and we`d stopped at the Goldstream National Park on the way home for a fantastic walk under the trees along a salmon stream. “Watch out for bears“ we were told. “Berries coming out“. But, as I`ve mentioned before, Ralphie is a great bear dog, so we forged on.

But now my sister Jamjarjude and I were back in Nanaimo, Ralphie deposited back in her doggie bed. We were thirsty and only a margarita would do. “Get in the car,“ JJJ said. “I know just the place.“

So, I did what I was told and the next thing I knew we were at Gina`s Mexican Cafe in Nanaimo.

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You gotta love a place with a bathtub boat on its roof.

Inside, we were transported to a beach shack in Mexico, circa 1952. A place where you`d find Hemingway at the bar and Ava Gardner serving drinks to a sweaty Gable in a safari shirt. Without the humidity and mosquitoes.

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The margarita was delicious, and we nibbled on some natchos and I wondered how to bring shocking pink into my next design.

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The margaritas just whetted our appetites, so, after asking the patient waitress the difference between enchiladas and burritos and fajitas and soft tortillas, she patiently (and quite possibly long-sufferingly) explained, then she turned over the cocktail card for the `Gringo` explanations.

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I was up for the chicken enchiladas…

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…while Jamjarjude opted for the cheese omelet wrapped in a soft tortilla.

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Delicioso! For a bit of Mexican kitsch in Nanaimo, with some tasty food and slam dunk margaritas, Gina`s Mexican Cafe is your place. www.ginasmexicancafe.ca

The Beach Up Close

My sister Jamjarjude and I stopped off for a walk on the beach at Lantzville the other day. It’s not a mellow, sandy beach, but one of those wild, rocky beaches of the Pacific Northwest. And beautiful. Especially when you get up close and personal.

There was seaweed…

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…and tiny mussels clustered together on the rocks….

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…masses of barnacles…

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sandstone carved by the sea water…

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…pebbles cemented by the sand into rock…

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…and rocks pitted where the pebbles have been released into the sea.

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The tide was low, and the beach revealed the sandstone honed into soft shapes by the sea…

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…and many textures, all unveiled by the low tide.

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Just a walk on a beach.

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