Tag Archives: vacation

Oh, the stories that chickens could tell…

The chickens around this place are a little more ridiculous than normal these days.  You see, I hatched out a batch of chicks with my students this year, and after all of that was said and done, we’ve got 10 birds that have survived.  They’re the teenagers of this pack, and, for the most part, they’re a gang of teenagers.

The teenagers

The teenagers

They hang out, get bullied by some of the adults (maybe their parents), but there’s a total hierarchy amongst them.  Two of them (we call them the Egyptians, due to their colouring), have started roosting in the house at night, on the TOP most roosting bar, pooping on all of the adult birds below them, all night long.  But, as teenagers are wont to do, and to be, there’s one that just doesn’t fit in.  Normally, in human situations, I would blame this on the big group, and accuse them of being conformist and traditional and rude and mean.  This, however, is not a human situation, and the bird who doesn’t fit in is by no means normal. Not in the cool, non-conformist way of not being normal either.

She’s just stupid.

The not-as-clever chicken

She gets lost in the forest.  When we call her, she wanders further afield.  Last night she didn’t even make it back to the house, and so very easily could have been eaten by any one of the predators in our creek… but she didn’t, so she was out there this morning, cheep peeping along, trying to find her way home.  Seriously.  In the wild, this chicken would be dead long ago.  The way it stands now, I don’t know how long she’ll survive.

Plus, on top of the teenagers, we have a baby.

Disheveled mom and babe

Disheveled mom and babe

Although, the baby is growing up fast (don’t they always?).  She was hatched out by a pair of moms (a lesbian love story in the chicken house), and the moms have swapped their momly duties in the past month or so that she’s been around.  The baby’s gone back to the barred rock mom, who is looking as disheveled as any new mom I know.  The other mom, a red rock, has gone back to the land of Ferdinand, our rooster.  The saga in the chicken yard is mighty ridiculous these days.

Stories on the farm are as to be expected.  The cooler crops (peas, salad, lettuce, broccoli, etc.) are really enjoying the cool weather.  Imagine that, huh?  The warmer (and the hot ones especially) like corn and tomatoes and cucumbers and some of my flowers would like it a little… warmer?  So would I.  Then I would spend more time at the beach and the lake and in the water and that would make me happy.  Either way, warm or cool, the garden is growing.  I took a few pictures at our market table this morning (I ALWAYS forget until the end of the market, when the table looks sad and depleted), but my camera was on a funny setting, so excuse the general non-focusness of the pictures.  Then, when I went onto the farm to take some pictures, all I took shots of was flowers.  And broccoli.  I like broccoli.  I’m clearly biased in regards to the crops we grow, but I think you all already knew that.

Broccoli

Broccoli

Gladiola

Gladiola

Dahlia

Dahlia

Sunflower and honey bee

Sunflower and honey bee

Echinacea

Echinacea

Dahlia

Dahlia

Lily

Lily

Market table

Market table

Market table

Market table

Market table

Market table

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Grateful, even with the bucket

I told people over the weekend that I was done school.  They thought that meant I was done my Masters.  That’s not what it means.  It means that I’m done for the summer, and that’s not even true.  I have to edit a colleague’s paper, and then read over how she’s edited mine (but at least I have a good first draft, which is 11 pages more than I had yesterday!), and then I have to edit my ethics application, and THEN I’m really on summer vacation.  Then I have 2 courses, some research, and a thesis to write, and then I’ll be done my Masters, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  First I get to go on summer vacation.  Granted, I’ve done lots of summer vacation things already this summer, but mentally, emotionally, and physically (I was living in Nanaimo for the most part dammit!) I have definitely not been on vacation.  Jeremy can attest to that, but he probably won’t unless I’m not around, because he might be a little afraid of my reaction.  I can’t say that I’ve been the most patient this month (even though I used to say that patience is for chumps, I didn’t mean that being patient with your friends or partner was chump-ish… I just meant that you shouldn’t wait to do things because waiting is dumb).  I can’t say that I’ve been especially thoughtful this month (although I did knit Jeremy an entire surprise sweater, which is pretty thoughtful.  And which really hurt my wrists, which makes typing 11 pages in a day hard.  Dammit again).  I can say that I swam almost every day this month, that I spent time with my flowers every chance I got, and that I was almost always grateful for where and how I live.  You would be too, I think.  Except for maybe the toilet part.  I don’t think everyone would be grateful to give up their flush toilet for a bucket.  I can’t think of very many who would be, actually.  I certainly wasn’t initially… but I am grateful that I don’t use gallons of clean water every time I pee.

All of these things may be too much information.  The sunset’s really pretty right now.  I’m going for a sunset stroll.  Look at the pictures.  You’d be grateful to live here.  Even with the bucket.

My top 10 Spring Break activities that actually happened

So I’ve been writing this post in my head over the past few days, while weeding the strawberries of nettles (I am, by no means, against the nettle plant.  I am, however, against all sharp and spiny and stingy [not stingy as in miserly, but sting-y, as in nettle-y] plants interspersed with my berries or my flowers.  NOT FAIR.), or while formatting pictures for this poster I had to do for school, or while driving up and down that island beside this island.  So I have ideas about this post, but they’re all pretty meandering.  I would not be surprised if the post is the same, even if it makes a claim to be a list.  Just thought you should know.

Climbing rose

Climbing rose

Kerri’s top 10 Spring break activities that actually happened

10.  Finishing my poster.  I had to do this poster for my Master’s.  It took way longer than I thought it would.  I finished it.  It was pretty.  It felt good.  Now I have this poster that I spent 2 days making and I don’t know what to do with it.  I guess there is always the woodstove.

Baby asparagus.  Only 2 more years!

Baby asparagus. Only 2 more years!

9. I got my haircut.  I’ve been wanting to cut my hair for a long time.  My mom told me not to shave any parts of it.  Then she said that I shouldn’t listen to her.  So I didn’t.

8.  Weeding the strawberries of nettles.  Also the blueberries of wild blackberry.  While I, for the most part, enjoy weeding, I especially enjoy weeding when the roots are really long and tangly, and the ground is pretty soft, and the weeds themselves are pretty big.  I like getting a big pile of weeds without a lot of work, especially when a significant part of that pile is root mass.  I get enjoyment out of it similar to the enjoyment I get when I pop an awesome pimple.  You should try it sometime.  The weeding part I mean.  We have lots of blackberries you can try it on, anytime.

Tractor sign.

Tractor sign.

7.  Beer on a patio.  In the sun.  A whole lot of years (6?  7?  I don’t remember) Jer and I went on our first date on Easter weekend.  We had beers on a patio in the sunshine.  A seagull shat in my beer.  Friends joined us and things got raucous.  It was an amazing day.  This was not that, but it was beers, on a patio, in the sun, with friends.  In April.  Win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater.  I win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater. I win.

6.  Fancy cocktails with friendfamily in the city.  I like fancy cocktails.  I like beer too, but fancy cocktails are special, and when we were in Calgary we went out with my cousin to a hip place and got to pretend that we weren’t bumpkins for a few hours, and there was a painting of a turtle in a suit, and we drank cocktails with names like “The Dirty Pigeon” (with tamarind and a salty cucumber!) and “The Meat Hook” and “Corn and Oil” and it was a lot of fun.  It made me feel young.

I made me a sweater.  It's orange.  It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it.  Seriously.  I win.

I made me a sweater. It’s orange. It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it. Seriously. I win.

5.  Rock and stick throwing parties.  When we got our land stumped last year, a bunch of rocks came to the surface.  Some sticks too.  Then Jer bought a tractor.  Rocks and tractors don’t get along so well, so I decided to have a rock and stick throwing party.  I thought friends would figure that I wanted them to work for me for free.  They didn’t.  One of them even googled “rock and stick throwing party” before deciding that it was probably a weird Denman Island thing, and hoped that it wasn’t going to be too competitive… I think it’s awesome that my friends trust me enough that I can host a work party with an unclear name and they’ll come and work… before going to the beach and drinking beer in the sun.

See?  Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons.  Orange.  WIN.

See? Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons. Orange. WIN.

4.  Planting all of the flowers.  Well, not ALL of the flowers.  But lots of trays of the flowers, and 2 50-foot rows of the flowers, and there are still all of the flowers coming in the mail.  My lilies are dividing and conquering and growing tall, and my starts are starting and they’re coming.  It’s going to happen!  Be ready for all of the flowers!

"Goats, eating fire-starter".  Almost "Goats, on a fire."

“Goats, eating fire-starter”. Almost “Goats, on a fire.”

3.  No diggity by a campfire.  In harmony.  On an acoustic guitar.  That is all.

2.  Hiking in the mountains.  In the sunshine.  On Vancouver Island with a friend and in Canmore with my mom.  To lakes.  In the sunshine.

The rhubarb is growing!

The rhubarb is growing!

1.  Not working, and especially not commuting.  Do you know how much time I would have in my life if I didn’t spend 5 days a week going to work?  I could ACTUALLY plant all of the flowers.  The blackberries would be exiled to the fences.  The nettles to beyond the fences.  I would knit all of the sweaters and blankets and shawls and hats and socks.  I would hike all of the mountains.  I would drink all of the cocktails and sleep in for all of the mornings.  Until at least 7.  I would miss my job, as I do (a little) right now, especially after drinking all of the cocktails and buying all of the yarn for all of the sweaters.  I would miss my job, but one of the best things about having a job is the days you don’t have to go.

This carrot top was haunted.  Naturally.  As in we didn't carve that face.

This carrot top was haunted. Naturally. As in we didn’t carve that face.

The things that are awesome and the things that aren’t

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s rained a lot over here on the west coast as of late.  We got over 300 mm of rain in 36 hoursMaple tree coming down last week, and another rain warning came in yesterday.  300 mm of rain is enough to make a big mess. Our neighbours’ driveway washed out, a bunch of trees came down because the ground was just too saturated with water, and the town of Courtenay declared a state of emergency.  Thank goodness we had just had the big maple that kept dropping branches on our driveway taken down, because I wonder whether it woThen the whole thing came downuld have fallen (on our house) in the storm.  I kept waiting for school to be cancelled, but it wasn’t.  Anyways, after all of that rain, a day of sunshine seemed like an incredible miracle.  That was today.  It was sunny.  It was miraculous.  We went for a walk.  In the sunshine.  With our friends.  Being on vacation is awesome.

The branches came off first

A very full pond

Things that aren’t awesome are dick roosters who attack people who are here visiting, and then attack me on the bottom of my foot so I step on them and then feel trapped with this angry rooster under my foot until Jeremy comes to save me.  I don’t know who won that fight.  I think most spectators would say that the rooster won, even though I was the one stepping on him.  When we’re eating him for dinner, maybe then I’ll have won.

Tree down on the fence

Another thing that isn’t awesome is a hawk eating our chickens.  After the dick rooster incident we found a pile of feathers.  Then we found a half-eaten chicken.  Damn.

Driveway disappeared

The seasonal ditch became a river

Other things that are awesome include everything.  Jeremy let me get the Christmas tree I wantedWet woods this year, and it’s so tall that, after we cut a foot off the bottom, it extends into our skylight.  It’s amazing.  Plus,          I have an amazing job, an amazing partner, an amazing dog (she did NOT eat this chicken.  This isn’t one of those “we think it’s a hawk but really it’s our dog” chicken deaths), an amazing family, amazing friends, and am just pretty darn lucky all the time.  And then the sun came out

Potatoes and corn

I didn’t disappear, I promise.  I was here, all along, just writing (and reading) other things… lesson plans, year plans, essays, literature reviews…  Summer vacation ended (and boy, when it decided to end it ended FAST) and I got busy.  Who knew that having a full-time job and a farm and doing my Master’s was going to be a lot of work?

Ink blot potato test

But I handed in my first significant assignment on Friday, and I have my week planned at school, and yesterday Head-sized potatoit rained so I knit and knit and started to warp my loom, and then today I got to play outside.  It was sunny (SUNNY!) and it’s still sunny and I dug potatoes and dug gladiolas and walked to my neighbours’ and I had coffee and got vitamin D from the sun instead of from a bottle.

Jer grew this amazing corn this year – it’s called Painted Mountain – and it’s a dried corn that’s supposed to be good for making cornmeal.  What it’s REALLY good for is being absolutely stunning.  Like STUNNING.  If I was corn, I would be this corn, and I would rotate through different colours every day of the week.

.I want to be them all

Imagine eating cornbread that looked like this.

Imagine eating cornbread that looked like this.

Corn.  Jer grew that.

Our cheepcheeps have grown into brawkbrawks and the one that I thought was a rooster turned out to be a…

rooster.  His name is Rosco.  The hens started laying eggs this week and they’re wee and I like them.  Soon we’re going to have more eggs than we know what to do with.  I’m going to end there, and post some pictures, and hopefully I’ll have something else to write about, that doesn’t involve quotations and references and weird verb tenses before 5 weeks from now.

Summer vacation in September

Many of my teacher friends have been somewhat all-consumed by the strike.  They post articles on Facebook and organize rallies.  They support each other in turns, for as one’s energy and optimism wanes, another’s peaks.  I’ve felt distant and removed from the whole situation, mostly by choice due to my job situation – I didn’t feel emotionally prepared to deal with teachers complaining about how they wanted to be back in their classrooms when I didn’t have a classroom to be back in.  So I, for better or worse, stayed on summer vacation.  To be honest, it was almost completely for the better.  I arranged flowers, spent innumerable hours canning, and read books.  I knit (of course I knit… probably less than I would have on the picket line though).  Certainly I read the articles about the strike that had been posted, and if I ever went to town anymore I would have gone to the rallies.  But I haven’t gone to town, so I didn’t go to the rallies.  I talked to people about the strike, and encouraged others to get involved.  I wrote letters to the Education Minister and to Christy Clark and to my MLA.  But I stayed home and hung out in my hammock and farmed.  I went to the beach.  I continued to spend time in the sun.  And I felt a little guilty, but not enough to do anything about it.  I think if the weather had been different, or if the farm wasn’t so awesome, or I didn’t have a million things to do to keep busy I would have been more present in the strike.  But it wasn’t.

Until Wednesday when I was offered a job, which made today the last day of my summer vacation.  As Jeremy said, I get to ease back into working life… I’ll be going to hang out on picket lines, but I won’t be doing it all of the hours of the day.  I’ll still be able to knit lots.  I’ll be hanging out in the sunshine (or the rain, but thank GOODNESS it’s not snowing here, like it was in Calgary or in Fort Nelson).  I am certainly grateful to have a job, but the end of summer break is always a bit of a heartbreaker too.  I don’t feel like I’m exuding as much excitement here as I should be… I wasn’t able to write this yesterday because I was so happy.  This morning, the first thing I said, while I was still half-asleep was “I got a job!”… so if you read this and think that I’m being indifferent, read it differently, or at least realize that’s not where it’s coming from.

My job, for those of you who care, is a 4/5 at Miracle Beach Elementary.  English classroom, not French (crazy!).  Yes, it will be a further commute, but it also gives me continuing status, and it’s a job which will pay for me to go to University.  Plus, the school is pretty much on the beach.  Tomorrow I go to meet some of the staff.  Maybe one day I’ll even get to meet my students.

The September that wasn’t

It’s a hard thing being a teacher on strike going into September.  It’s a harder thing being a teacher on strike going into September without a job.  I joke about how it means I’m still on summer vacation… and, sure enough, I am.  But it also means that my whole sense of time and rhythm is off.  A significant part of my identity is associated to the profession of teaching, and it sucks not knowing what that’s going to look like this year.  Plus, everyone wants to talk about the strike right now.  Everyone wants to know how I feel about it.  Most of this “everyone” doesn’t know that I don’t have a job, so when I tell them that, whether or not BC teachers are on strike or not doesn’t affect whether I get a new class list and a new group of students, everyone feels a little awkward.

So, to get over the awkward feeling, I’ll show you some pictures from OUR vacation (note: this is the vacation that Jer and I took together, not the vacation that I took by myself.  Note #2: it was awesome.)