Thursday, 24 September 2015

The New Normal: AKA What do you do all day?

If you can believe it, we are now one month into our new adventure and patterns are beginning to emerge.  At least on school days.  Phil is usually awake first and gets up to write a few emails or work on a sermon.  He also makes coffee.  At 7:20, my alarm goes off and I take a few minutes to get ready before I wake up the kids.  We eat breakfast together.  I go for toast, Phil and Julia usually have cereal and Levi likes pancakes.  Then we try to share the bathroom as best we can and by 8:15 we need to be out the door and walking to the bus.  The kids still love the bus ride.

Then Phil goes to work and I have the house to myself.  Hurrah!  I've been lucky to find some other women who like to walk or I will go for a walk myself.  There is a labyrinth of trails to discover and I am happy to note it will take quite some time to walk them all.  Yesterday, we volunteered for Levi's walking field trip.  Imagine walking down to the beach to collect rocks!

There is also writing.  Yesterday, I finished the first draft of my newest novel.  Now I am following Stephen King's advice to put it in a drawer for several weeks.  I can't remember how long he suggested.  It's not in a literal drawer, but I will try not to open my computer folder for at least three weeks.  I am hoping to pitch it in October at the Surrey International Writer's Conference.  I've been wanting to attend this event since my friend Katie and I met CC Humphreys at the Strathmore Library several years ago.  I'm finally close enough!  I'm a bit nervous about the pitch.  That will be my next project.

Phil usually joins me at home for lunch and I often read, bake or clean in the afternoons.  Then I meet the kids at the bus stop and they tell me about the joys and sorrows of their day while complaining about our steep driveway.
A blue heron in the pond across from the bus stop.

Julia has recently taken up helping me make supper or do some baking after school.  She's also excited about the Drama School she has joined.  They both love our new rope swing and continue finding new and annoying apps on our hand-me-down iPhones.

The days are speeding by and we do our best to soak up the sun while it's here.  We hear there's a long dark winter ahead of us.  We sure miss our friends, but are doing our best to make new ones.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Three days ago, I began to work on my novel again.  My kids are at school now and I have the house to myself while I write.  It is only the second day of this phenomena and I must confess I feel a bit guilty.  I should be out doing pastor's wife things, visiting others or applying for jobs and getting involved in everything I can.  Can I really just sit here and write without minding children at the same time?  I'll get to these other things soon enough, but after three months of moving, I'm going to revel in this oddity for a few days.  Despite Stephen King's admonishment to turn your desk away from all windows and distractions, my desk is situated in a room full of windows.  It's like I'm in a treetop.  My friend Laurie thinks I'm living like The Hobbit.  Lucky me! 

It's been a tough adjustment to school for the kids.  "Everything is different," my daughter keeps saying.  After being a substitute teacher in about 30 different schools, I know that all schools are different, but even I have been surprised by just how different and Island school in B.C. can be.  To start with, they don't begin school until after Labour Day.  This is  a full week later than the kids would start school in Alberta.  I'm a big fan of the fact that the first day of school is only an hour and 20 minutes.  The first day of school is overwhelming for teachers and students, plus this encouraged the parents to stick around for a parent tea where we got to know other parents and were able to learn about volunteer opportunities.

However, our children are struggling with the fact that they still don't know who their homeroom teacher will be.  At this school, previous students begin with their teacher from the year before.  This allows the school to assess their numbers and accurately divide the students into grade groupings.  Students start on Tuesday, but aren't assigned to their teacher until Thursday or possibly Friday.  None of us have experienced this before and, being new students, I think our kids are longing to find security and comfort.  I'm hoping that today they will learn who their teachers will be and begin to find their place.

Another change for our kids is taking the school bus.  We've always lived close enough to walk or bike to school before.  You had to sign up to take the bus and I think there was often a fee to be a bus student.  Here, it is assumed the students will take the bus and just registering them in school gets them a place on the bus.  The kids and I were both worried about getting to school this way, but in fact, the bus ride was the highlight of yesterday for the kids. They love their bus driver and they are the first kids to get pick up on their morning route. 

Yesterday, we also got our first truckload of firewood.  While is not quite as exquisite as a recent This Is That video, we are all pretty enamoured with our fir-scented woodpile.

I felt Waldenesque as I stacked the wood next to our little cabin.  Even though the wood came fully cut, I feel like I am at one with the land.  We could survive a snowstorm now.  We are beginning to become true islanders. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

West Coast Shock

One of our new friends asked me what I find different about our new province and home.  There are so many things I could hardly name them.  After more consideration, here are a few:

1.  The roads: The roads on this island are insane.  I nearly had a full-blown panic attack when I first arrived and had to drive up our driveway.  Now that I've been up a few others I realize that ours is quite tame compared to what some people drive everyday.  I often wish I could remember how those physics problems worked.  Plane times load or something.  Will we actually make it up the hill and at what acceleration will will begin to go backward?

2.  The garbage/recycling situation.  I thought I was a pretty good recycler in Alberta.  We recycled cardboard, paper, tin, drinking containers and plastics.  Most weeks we only had one large garbage bin to put out for garbage collection.  Here, we can only put out one medium-sized garbage pail.  Every TWO weeks.  The recycling depot is open limited hours and run by volunteers.  It is a fantastic facility, but nothing gets by these dedicated folks.  We can't recycle garbage bags or hard plastic without a number on it.  With the move, especially, we have a lot of extra garbage.  I'm planning on sending a bag home with my parents when they visit.  So leave a little extra room in your trunk if you decide to come see us:)  Fortunately, they have an excellent organics program here, so there won't be any food in the garbage bags.

3.  Downsizing.  We knew we were coming to a much smaller home.  We planned ahead and sold off any extra furniture we thought we wouldn't need.  I went through a lot of my papers and the kids toys, but eventually, we just had to throw everything in boxes and get the boxes into storage.  Opening them here in our cozy home, we realized we still had far too much.  Thankfully, there is a a volunteer-run second-hand store that will take our extras.  Even so, sometimes it's hard to say goodbye to memory-laced toys, games and wedding presents.

4.  Septic System/ Water Filtration/ Electric Heat - I've never lived in a house without central heating.  Simply adjust the thermostat and your house is toasty warm.  We even had air-conditioning in our last two houses.  I've never had a septic system either.  When I first learned about it and our water filtration system, I admit, I freaked out.  It's laughable now, but when you're overwhelmed with moving, meeting new people and worrying if your kids will survive the transition, the idea of unsafe drinking water or a septic system overflow can really freak you out.

5.  The rain - I was prepared for rain.  I was prepared for trees.  But I wasn't really prepared for the loss of sun and sky.  Say what you will against the prairies, but the open spaces and bright skies becomes a part of a person when they live in the prairies for 16 years.  The only cure is to get out into the new surroundings, give thanks for the rain and hike a trail.  I'm determined to love this beautiful place.  It'll just take a little time.