April 12, 2012 , Dartmouth
Last few weeks we were bubbling with excitement to get away, perfect timing what with the long Easter weekend, so looking forward to time off, and time away, and time with each other, my hunny and I.
Also, being with family that I only see once a year (if that), is always heart warming - reconnecting, sharing, having fun ! It's never long enough, though, and damn it was way too hard to leave. However, it's admittedly also good to come back "home", to get back into our own routines. Which makes me wonder about the whole concept of home and routines when one steps out of the box as we are planning to do... what will be our new routine on our new home?
So, i've always maintained that Thoughts (do indeed) become Things. The Universe seems to agree as well.
Perfect case in point. Dave spent the better part of the last two weeks, nattering, that "watch" while we are away, there will be a viewing, and an offer", and we'll be away from home, and have to deal with all of it long distance, and sure enough, as we were driving up to Quebec City, didn't we get a phone call that a viewing had taken place. The next day (while said nattering person was stuffing his face with poutine), interested potential buyer was walking through our house a second time. Second viewings are pretty much a sure sign that an offer is on its way. And sure enough, one arrived that very evening.
And then the flurry of emails in cyberspace ensued... and we followed through with a counter offer, which had us scrambling to the nearest Business Depot Fax machine in the allowable time limit. Back and Forth it went for the next couple of days until both parties were reasonably satisfied, which had us once again scrambling for the nearest Business Depot fax machine, which just happened to be closed as it was Easter Sunday. Strangely enough, this potential buyer is from Quebec. It probably would've been cheaper for us to drive over and hand deliver the paperwork to him then to fax the pages long distance. However the fact of the matter is one seems to pay a hefty price in order to have others to do some simple forwarding of messages, it's always imperative to double check your crossed t's and dot your i's yo'self. HAH.
So house inspection was done yesterday and we have just been informed that there's nothing to be addressed. Thank The Universe for that one. Funny what 24 hours of worry can do to you when you learn that there was nothing to worry about in the first place. Funny how we build mountains sometimes out of molehills. And now there's yet another 24 hour time period before the final signatures can happen and we can place a SOLD sign on top of the FOR SALE SIGN, YAY.
And voila. As always, glad that you tuned in :)
CAPTION: A rather deserted looking marina, such is the time of year, in Quebec City.
April 8, 2012 , Québec City
Aren't migratory birds wonderfully smart creatures? Perhaps they do know best? Twice a year they get up and go, pointing their beaks and sniffing the air for warmer climates, what a life!!
But then I feel a sense of understanding, as Dave and I are prepping, and will soon be pointing our lovely Banyan towards warmer climates as well.
And so we were in Québec City over the long Easter weekend, eating too many Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Ashton poutines, Chocolate Mousse with Pear Birthday cakes... and found oursevles craving a bit of adventure (or might that be much needed-exercise)?
The Canada Snow Goose (Geese?) fly from the Great White North down to the Atlantic Seaside, and then in March reverse direction and come back. One of their stomping grounds during this migration is at Cap Tourmente, approx half hour drive East of Quebec City.
Cap Tourmente (so named by Samuel de Champlain because in his words the slightest bit of wind in the area creates big waves) is a National Wildlife Area, home to many km's of hiking trails, flora, fauna, birds and wildlife. The wetlands are also home to the bullrush plant, a favourite food of the Snow Goose (Geese). Well fed Goose are happy Geese ?
We didn't get too far in as the grounds were closed and we had other plans for the day, however, that being said, it was a good thing they were closed, as I wasn't too keen on paying an admission fee, for something as natural as migrating birds found in nature. We did venture a ways in and took a peek at the grounds, saw a beautiful woodpecker having his feed of suet.. pictures, as always, can be found on Banyan's FB site.
So back into the car we go and another drive up and up and over the mountain, through blizzard conditions (seriously ??), and back down again into the sun and the lovely community of Baie St-Paul. This area is considered to be an artist's paradise, as evidenced by the many statues of famous artist busts, and the many art galleries and beautiful scenery everywhere the eye can see. We enjoyed a late afternoon snack of gelato (maple for Dave, mango for me, cherry for Ben, and chocolate sundaes and vanilla twists for my sister and nephew).
A short walk through town and most of the art galleries, boutiques and craft shops were open... one of them selling, notably donkey milk soaps. We never did find the shop that sold white wine made of tomatoes. A local speciality apparently.
Another short drive away we stopped at the edge of the Baie where there was a spectacular horizon of ''Snow Goose White'', and a painter immortalizing the moment on canvas. We also stumbled upon the home of Habitat 07 (an ecologically built house that uses the idea of energy sustainability). It too was closed, and if it had been open, would have incurred an admission fee.
Instead we found ourselves peeping through the windows, free of charge.
The drive home took us back up the mountain, back through blizzarding and blowing snow, arriving at home just in time to prep some good ole Fondue Chinoise. Yumm !
And so, just for a day, we too migrated, flocking to the areas that interested us, staying if only for a moment or two, feeding and snacking as the mood overtook us and then flying away leaving only the memories of a perfect day to stay within our minds and our hearts.
CAPTION: the Snow Goose at Baie St-Paul.
April 6, 2012 , Quebec City
Why, A DINNER IN THE DARK of course.
Today was a fun filled day of celebrations in honour of Dave's birthday and we were having a Day of it: Fun in Québec City!! A day that started with french toast and some "pure-laine" Maple Syrup, a gift of Flippers (pictures of that one to follow), followed by a walk in Vieux-Québec and a, OHMYGOD Poutine (diets and raw food be damnned !!) at Ashton's and then we were heading for an extra special evening of feasting and fun.
You all know by now how much we (I) love to talk about food and feasting and fun, and this event was definitely that with an added bonus...
This was a dinner at 6e Sens, a restaurant where you can enjoy the adventure and experience of having a meal in the dark. Mm-hmm. Indeed.
The basic premise is not only an emphasis on Québec-style food, and that, given the name of the restaurant, 6th sense, that you're eating in pitch-black environment, and as a non-seer, your other senses are heightened, and thus you can enjoy a culinary experience with an added touch of je ne sais quoi.
Lordy-lou, lots of butterflies and definitley stepping outside the comfort zone here, however, in retrospect, what a great evening !!
We arrived at the restaurant, and were immediately immersed in dimly lit waiting area. The host greeted us with an explanation of what was to happen (more or less), and specific instructions: remember our waiter's name, Dominic (all waiters/waitresses are, by the way, non-voyants. There was to be no getting up or moving around during the meal, and that hmm, might be an issue, so we made sure we found the restrooms before we went in, and walked by the Mira Room for the seeing-eye dogs. In the room were a few helter skelter laid puppy pillows and 2 seeing-eye dogs waiting for their masters to come back. I don't know why, but I always find that seeing-eye dogs looks so sad.
It was soon time to go in, through two double sets of curtains, and we were told to line up one behind the other, single file, left hand on left shoulder, we thought we would soon be dancing the Conga line. In a few seconds, reality hit and hit hard, as we walked through the double curtains into total darkness. And I mean Total. Darkness. The waiter gently guided us to our seats, told us when to sit, almost how to sit, and then said, I will be back. Yikes.
We were left with nothing but each other. With many voices around us. And each other. Somewhere. I think we all held hands for what seemed like forever. And talked much louder than we normally would. We were told about the wire mesh basket in the middle of the table with our bread entrees. Dave and I and Ben took the meal with the wine accompaniment, and so we were served a nice bubbly rosé to start with our appetizers, which came on one big rectangular plate (I imagined it to be white), with 3 smaller rectangular plates inside, each one containing a different dish. We were told to eat from left to right.
The first was a coleslaw type of salad, the second was a puff with mushroom/cream cheese filling, and the third a type of marshmallow on a crudity with something something. It is true that you smell and touch before you trust yourself to eat. It is true that you taste more, when you savour each mouthful trying to guess what your salivary glands are telling you.
Second course came with a really delicious Pepperwood Merlot. The first plate held a veal stew on green pea puree (and other stuff), the second was a chicken with quinoa (and other stuff) and the third pork on a legume bed (with other stuff). All of them delicious. We guessed some, and were totally off on others.
It is funny how your brain remembers where you put stuff... I thought I would "lose" my glass of wine, but no, instinctively, my hand knew where to go, exactly where I had left it. I was the only one in the group whose eyes after a while, stayed closed. That was étrange.
Dessert followed, again in a group of 3, with typical Québecois Pouding Chomeur, and the second was a millefueille (flaky pastry with lemon curd sauce and raspberry filling) and the third was a Creme Brulee with chocolat and a maple syrup liqueur. And a glass of port to go with.
As we came out, the chef greeted us with an explanation of viewing of the plates that we had just had (hence the above descriptions) which during our meal were nothing but a guess. And the plates were not white, but a burgundy red.
Oh my goodnees. Delicious. The food was. And the experience, wow. Definitely worth it. Humbling. The waiters patient, and we didn't spill a thing (oddly, that was one of our big fears). We even asked them to sing Dave a Happy Birthday, which they did, and which the whole restaurant chimed in. And we hooted in happyness. And contagiously enough, the rest of the restaurant chimed in, and the louder we hooted and sang, the louder everyone else sang.
It was a fantastic evening, for all of us... we had no idea how big the room was. Who was besides us. What they looked like. Only sounds. We be introverts or extroverts alike. Tall. Short. Large. Small. For all of us, at one instant in time, we were all equals. Isn't that how it's supposed to be ? All the time. All of us equals. Relying on our verbalization of actuality to define the world around us and the life within us.
We were lucky though, as we exited, we got to see the Light.
Caption: Picture of us taken by the waiter during dinner. We're all waving. And an extra special thanks to my sister, her husband and nephew for this wonderful, wonderful day ! And a most wonderful Day of Days to Dave, here's to the start of a new year of fun filled events !!
April 3, 2012 , All over the place
We just had a 3 day weekend. Well, I just did. Dave likes to nag at me and point out that every day is a weekend day for him. And those 3 days passed by faster than the blink of an eye and the snap of the fingers. Just how does that happen ??
Well for one, we are still constantly cleaning house. No viewings since the last avalanche and potential offer. Keeping our fingers crossed and our hopes high that the after Easter rush will bring something concrete and profitable our way.
Secondly, it's been just gorgeous outside, so every day has involved a long walk in the sun and well no sand or palm trees on the horizon yet, however we were surprised to spot some gorgeous Canada Geese at our favourite trail the other day.
We spent a lovely evening at the Club last Friday night. Lots of laughs that covered alot of ground (toy boats and hollow legs with solemn promises of no blogging allowed by the recently crowned Coastal Navigation Goddess), along with great food (my first time having perogies, yumm !) made for a great evening with some friends that shall remain anonymous, HA !
Dave and I spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon trying out the Geocaching Phenomenon. Armed with a GPS, one downloads information from a site that provides details as you hike on whatever trails/area you choose and the GPS beep beeps you with hints on where to look and how far you need to Bushwhack into the shrubbery to find your little flask of Swag. It does get much more complex than that, with Travel Bugs and Hitchhikers, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. We added to the caches but otherwise left them all "as is", with one exception, a cute little toy dolphin that we might even bring on Banyan to be our travelling mascot.
And so we spent the afternoon in the vicinity of Lake Echo/Porter's Lake and hiked some trails that were totally new to us, and where, about 5 years ago, a raging fire destroyed some homes and over 600 acres of land. Our friends were quick to point out the locations of stash as we clambered over and under charcoaled remnants of trees, bushwhacked our way through the new growth, amazed at the devastation that had occured and of course (no competition here) one of us had to be the "first" to yell "FOUND IT!". Feel free to visit and like Banyan's Facebook for the pictures.
A pause at the edge of the Lake had us stopping and enjoying a beer and you know, that's what life's all about isn't it ? No, not the beer (not exclusively anyways) but being out and about, doing something. Feeling every pore of your body alive. In the moment and in love with it. And just for a moment there's nowhere to have to go and nothing to have to do. Time comes to a standstill and seemingly lasts forever. Life. Is. Good.
March 24, 2012 , Terrence Bay, Lower Prospect
Today Dave and I decided to do some exploring, on land, in our own backyard. Whoa, what ??
We were heading to Polly's Cove, a hiking trail just a tad before Peggy's Cove. We had even packed a snack and some coconut water to quench our thirst (nothing like getting ready for our future caribean travels !)
The reason we got sidetracked, is that four summers ago, when we were sailing on Dave's then lovely Illihee II, we spent a wonderful night in Grovers Cove, where we had hiked by some waterfalls. Today we were driving by, on our way to Polly's Cove, Dave did a double turn and hmm, mentionned that those "rocks looked familiar" and so we did another double turn and went for a look-see. Now only a "true" sailor would understand this term "the rocks looked familiar". Maybe, given that I knew exactly what Dave was talking about when he said that, could I be that much closer to becoming a sailor-ess ?
In any case, that's how we got sidetracked. We parked in a very small area just off the road, and found ourselves in this waterfront park, stumbled on the boardwalk littered with benches everywhere and stopped for a moment at the gazebo. We started reading the interpretive panels and discovered a very interesting piece of history that neither one of us knew anything about.
On 01 April 1873, the sail and steam fueled SS Atlantic was on its 19th voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, (from Liverpool (U.K.) and on its way to New York (U.S.), needed to refuel and was heading to Halifax to replenish its coal supplies (why did it leave UK with not enough coal?). The (typical) stormy seas and foggy nights of Nova Scotia had the Capt fooled (and there seems to be a bit of question as to the Capt's actions), thinking he was near Halifax, zigged when he should've zagged, and so in the wee hours of the morning, the ship smashed into some underwater rocks off Marr's Head...
It was considered "the worst marine disaster off the Canadian Coast prior to the Titanic". Of the 952 people on board less than half were saved. Lifeboats were lowered but were mostly washed away or smashed by the rough seas. The ship quickly filled with water and rolled over on its side. All the women and children died including 2 babies that were born on-board during the voyage. One child survived, a young boy by the name of John Hindley. The few survivors owed their lives to the very small and brave community that kept the frozen bodies alive during the dark and cold night. Many divers spent weeks diving and recovering the bodies. One newspaper tells an interesting tale : that one of the found crew was discovered to be a woman instead of the man that she was pretending to be - (s)he had served as a "common (male) sailor" for 3 of the SS Atlantic's voyages. Shiver me timbers !!
There stands a commemorative monument, erected in 1915, on a mass grave for the unidentified victims of the wreck.
As Dave and I meandered off the beaten path, we came across more gravestones laying helter skelter in the bushes, enough to shiver me timbers and hush us into solemn pensiveness. What is it about discovering a bunch of gravestones that gives one the creepy crawlies ? Either way it was an interesting detour and a wonderful day spent discovering a little piece of history in our own backyard.
On a side note, the offer and counter offer fell through and our house is back on the market, so we came home after our adventures for (another) thorough cleaning, getting it ready for more showings !! And it's back to the books for this "true sailor-ess" for the upcoming reviews and Coastal Navigation exam this week.
Keep your fingers crossed, shiver me timbers !!
Photo: One of the descriptive panels fond at the Heritage Site aptly named "Cry of the Sea". As always if you've liked SV Banyan on Facebook, you can take a peek at a few more pictures.
March 21, 2012 , Halifax
This widely popular and well known idiom cannot be mistaken for anything else but the infamous words of Capt Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Having spent the last few weeks watching reruns, and yes, Le Sigh, SV Banyan is, admittedly, a huge Trekkie fan, this idea of "making it so" has somehow resonated with me. Capt Picard, in First Contact, succintly explained that in the world of the future, dilemmas and strife have disappeared, and the ultimate goal of (wo)mankind has become to strive to continually better ourselves.
This combined with the recent events in our lives...
A recent story of DOing by Zero to Cruising, where Rebecca taught herself how to dance with fire (you should watch the video, she's amazing !). Love their zest for life !! Another recent blog by Windtraveler is a great read as well, sharing a similar vein of thought, commenting on those who dream and dream, and those who dream and "DO" (quote unquote).
There is this idea that somehow and someway we all have the ability to create the life of our dreams. Sounds simple enough. The inspirational stories of those that up and quit lucrative jobs to be "happy-er" following their bliss. Oftentimes it is when we face the fear, and do it anyways, that we feel truly vibrant and alive and empowered. There's something to be said about leaving the relative familiar comfort of that which we know and heading out... into unknown and unchartered territory. (Although in this age of technological media, ain't much that is unknown and unchartered).
Dave and I have also, as have other cruisers I am sure, started experiencing the "you are doing WHAT ?". Sometimes it's as simple as a raised eyebrow, to outright vocal comments (some supportive, some not so much).
My daughter experienced this as well when she told people she was going to Spain for a few months. My son succintly investigated the idea of the words that we choose to speak, suggesting that, for example, in terms of high school graduates that so and so took a year "off"... Why this need to constantly quanitfy and qualify our actions... or the time doing something we want with the word "off" ?
Off from what ? Is following our dream, creating our lives, striving for HAPPYness, feeling vibrantly alive, taking time "off"?
Can it be as simple as the very idea that language in of itself, the use of words, the thinking of thoughts allow us to go from dreaming to "making it so" ??
On a totally unrelated topic, we are happy to report that we just received the first offer on our house, and a counter offer is in the works. Dave is visiting SV Banyan (aka working) on this absolutely gorgeous summer day (and yes it's only mid-March !) and we have been following our exercise regimen with rewnewed ardour (see what Spring brings forth ??) which for me entails a 10 km walk today.
Life is Good. Make it so !
PHOTO: A gorgeous pictures of SV Banyan with her colourful spinnaker. Taken last summer - thanks Mo !!