Pioneer Annie

When I decided to stay on Hornby for the winter I had no idea what challenges were ahead of me.

I was having lunch with another blogger a few weeks ago telling her my Hornby story. She said “ you should write a book, you have such an interesting story and you tell it so well. I wish I had such an interesting life” and I said to her.. “ I wish I had you stable life. I don’t want all this moving around”.   She told me about a  mommy blogger who wrote a book.   I am not aspiring to write a book so in the meantime I will update my retirement blog. Mommy bloggers are a bird of another feather.

It’s been a rough winter with about five 24 hour power failures since November due to wind storms and f trees falling on power lines. BC Hydro has been pretty diligent in sending over crews on the first ferry in the morning and fixing things by the evening.   I had two nights in the dark, one with a friend who kept me company and one on the sofa in front of the wood stove. Fortunately by the time the first power failure had occurred I had mastered the wood stove and was able to keep a fire going and make cowboy coffee in the morning. That is thanks to Hornby friends who gave me several demos on how to build a fire and instructions on cowboy coffee… “boil water on the wood stove and add some coffee”. It was pretty good. Morning without coffee is not a pleasant experience. Shortly after my landlady left for Mexico for 2 months, the basement flooded, and despite the attempts of her son to adjust the sump pump ( what ever that is) it remained flooded for most of the next two months.   My landlady had promised someone would come by to put some Plexiglas over the sky lights but that did not happen until she came back 2 months later when she had someone install the Plexiglass, fix the sump pumb, reinstall the propane tank I had incorrectly connected and fix the leak in the dryer hose. And over all this time the Satellite TV was down because the wind storms changed the positioning of the satellite. However by then I had already developed a bad cold and decided to rent a condo of a friend in Courteny while he was travelling around the world. Then I discovered I had pneumonia but the clinic on Hornby had given me antibiotics so all I had to do was lie low in Courtenay and fight the side effects of the antibiotics. While I was lying low on a massage table in Courtney my massage therapist had a similar story about her new house outside of Qualicum Beach.   The week before when the snow had hit she could not get her 100 ft driveway plowed. Her neighbour came to her aid. And she was without power for 5 days!!! This was her first year on Vancouver Island and she said she has had a pretty steep learning curve.

Two of my Toronto families on Hornby were hit but the snowmageddon without snow tires or four wheel drive and also had to rely on the kindness of friends. It’s been a rough winter all the way around on Vancouver Island. Next year I think it will be Mexico for me. 

I had another pioneer experience while teaching my 7 year old student online in Shanghai. The lesson was on Wild Horses in the US and I followed that up with a lesson about Annie Oakley. I felt the material was quite foreign to her but it made me think about my pioneer experience on Hornby Island. I was pretty naïve about what to expect but my friends have come to my aid as needed. I will go back next week and hope the snow and the power failures are over for this year. This wasn’t my retirement pan but my friends keep telling me they are enjoying hearing about my adventures even if I am not enjoying experiencing them. My new favourite place is the The Second Page used book store in Courtenay. This is a rare Main Coon Cat who seems interested in Quincy Jones.  He reminds me of a Cheshire Cat from Alice and Wonderland. 

 

My other Courtenay Favourites

Acreview Dental- thorough, courteous

FYIdoctors -opticians- thorough, courteous

Walmart Medical Clinic- max about 30 mn wait and very knowledgeable doctors

The new hospital-

The Atlas Café

Mudshark Café

Union Street Grill

Fabricland.

And the Trumpeter Swans of Courtenay

Merry Christmas from Hornby Island

This is my first Christmas on Hornby Island after past xmas1Christmases at Puerto Vallarta, Costa Rica, Phoenix Ottawa and Vancouver. This will be a very different Christmas. This morning the power went out for the third time since I came in June. By now I have acquired both candles and the skills to start a fire in the wood stove AND make cowboy coffee on the wood strove. The pot of hot water heated faster on the wood stove than the electrical stove.  The power came on at 8 am, just in time for the co-op radio program that I had been invited to guest DJ. The station only broadcasts to the island and only half of the island can get the transmission so that’s a possible an audience of about 500 would be listening if everyone was up at that hour of the morning.  All did not go well. I had a small set of Christmas music I had hoped to play for my new Hornby friends, but the technical elves were up to their old tricks. My new Iphone 7 had a different jack than the radio station and my back up plan of a USB stick could not be read by the machines. So I will be getting some training on the equipment next week.   I have been invited to host a once a month classical radio show.

Following the radio follies, I took my weekly trip to the recycling center to feed the deer this week’s organic material.   Lots of mandarin orange peels but they don’t seem to fancy them. I hit on another real find at the Free store.. an ottoman for me and my landlady’s cat. (see above)   She (the landlady) is in Mexico.

I came home and baked a huge apple crisp for the potluck dinner at New Horizons tomorrow.   I got the apples from the heritage orchard on Hornby which has been in existence for about a 100 years. The orchard has now become a community project. The apples taste better than the ones from the store.

I have to teach on-line for an hour tomorrow to a group of nine grade 7’s in Ontario. They are all English speaking but are wanting enhanced reading experience. Managing 9 kids online at the same time seemed like a bad idea to me but everyone seems to be on their best behaviour.   The book we are about to read is called Replica-Lyra which is about cloning. It was their choice not mine!. Very topical. The other student I have is a grade 2 child in an international school in Shanghai which means English immersion. She is on a 3 week snowboarding trip at the moment but we are still having classes.

Tomorrow night is a house concert at a Yoga retreat on the island. I have had very good things about the musicians and have not been to the yoga retreat.   Then Sunday is the life drawing session, followed by the Hornby Island Photo club. We have to bring 4 photos of Leading Lines.

Next week a new Hornby friend from Victoria is coming to stay for a few days. Although many people leave Hornby for Mexico in the winter, I haven’t made any plans to go south yet but if the power frequently goes out I might consider it. I think the Christmas period will be quieter and I hope to get back to doing some watercolours that I have been leaning by myself but started a few years ago at Emily Carr.

People often say that they have never been to busy since they retired, and I have to agree. Even here on Hornby it is common to be double booked. There are fitness classes, the bridge club, the community choir and many many volunteer opportunities that I have not yet explored. Everywhere I go I run into people I know or who know me after about 5 minutes of chatting with me. This is so much better than Vancouver or even Mexico. And walks, like everything, are within a 10 min drive of where I live.xmas 6

The downside has been trying to find housing over the winter. There are some strange rules and regulations from the Islands trusts about long/short term rentals that take a lot of the housing off the market in the winter. xmas 7Crazy making if you ask me. Not unlike the strata council in my condo in Vancouver that has banned rentals of less than 12 months. Thus my continued stay on Hornby!!!!. Fortunately the BC government has just released their housing task force report that recommends banning condo rental restrictions. I have been fighting with my strata council about this since May and I am glad to see the tide may be turning. So far they have fined me $ 500 for some short term rentals I did over the summer on AIRBNB.   It’s a crazy world. The summer rentals here start at $ 1000 a week. The other downside is that I haven’t had much time to update my blog.

I hope to see more visitors to Hornby next year. I have two futons for guests and 2 bathrooms so lots of space. It is however a 6 hour trip from Vancouver via 3 ferries. Still, it is a pretty scenic trip and well worth it. Save it until the summer to enjoy the beaches and kayaking.

My best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy 2019. Can’t believe it will be 2019!!!

Ann

all things unretired

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