Garden Disapointment

Last Saturday night I had a bit of a shock when I went to water our garden and check on things. This is what I found:

Three of our beautiful pumpkins had been smashed, stepped on or thrown along the ground. Numerous tomatoes had been thrown around, plant leaves had been trampled and our zucchini looked like it had been in a fight with a pocket knife and lost.

It was pretty heart breaking. We had been told that this sometimes happens, that people sometimes think that a ‘Community Garden’ means that the ‘community’ can do whatever they want to it. We’d already had someone harvest our kale without asking, but we figured, well, we had lots and maybe they needed it. But this… this is not using the food, this is just waste. This is just mean and cruel.

I don’t want to go into it too much, but since I’ve been keeping you all up to date on what is happening in our garden and how it’s going, I figured I should let you know about this too.

On a happy note, here are our pumpkins pre-smashing. And some of our pumpkins survived so we’re not completely without pumpkins.

Aren’t they lovely?

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Sunday Night Lightning Storm

Last night while Michael was playing hockey and I was home watching tv, the most beautiful lightning storm rolled into town. So I turned off the tv, turned off all the lights, opened the curtains on front window big and wide, poured myself a glass of wine and sat down and watched. It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to just watch a lightning storm, and while I did try and take a few photos of it, I tried mostly to just enjoy it. I think I watched it for almost an hour as it moved the west to the east over town.

It was beautiful and I felt surprisingly peaceful watching it.

Sometimes when there is so much going on in life and in my own head, just watching nature pass by is exactly what I need.

Hello from Dawson Creek, BC!

A few people here and at my main photography site have asked where we moved too. Up until now I have been purposefully vague. This is a small town and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump right out there in my online life and declare that it is where I lived. Vancouver has a nice vagueness to it because it’s a big city. Here… I’m pretty sure if you every ended up in the town and stopped at a gas station you would run into someone who has a friend who knows someone who knows me. It’s a bit unsettling at times how completely UN-anonymous one is here.

But after being here for 4 months I feel a lot more secure in my identity as a resident of this place and I want to share it with you all.

I live in Dawson Creek, BC.

(First, no it has nothing to do with the TV show of a decade or so ago with a similar name. Second, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all the jokes that can possibly be made about said TV show, but feel free to try in the comments if you wish.)

That is the town I went to high school in and it’s where Michael and I now make our home.

Dawson Creek is in the Peace River Area of Northeastern BC in the foothills and prairies east of the rocky mountains. We are 15 hours away from Vancouver (driving time) and at an elevation of 2,183 ft. The city is home to about 12,000 people (including some of the surrounding farm land. It’s the kind of place where you can see one end of town will standing at the other end. The area is surrounded by aspen and coniferous forests, lots of farm land and lots of ranch/grazing land. The major crops here are canola and one of the major industries (after tourism) is oil & gas.

We’re most famous for be the starting point of the famous Alaska Highway constructed in 1942 by the United States as a way of securing Alaska during World War II. Every summer tourists from all over the States, Canada and sometimes the world, come here to drive the Alaska Highway from here all the way to Delta Junction, Alaska.  Oddly enough, my parents drove through here on their way to Alaska in their first years of marriage over 30 years ago. At the time, they lived in Manitoba and had no idea they would ever settle here. (Side fact: my mom found out she was pregnant with me on their way to Alaska.)

My family moved here from Southern Alberta when I was 9 years old and has been here ever since, almost 20 years now.  We’re certainly not the oldest family here (lots of people have grandparents or great grandparents who were original settlers, but it’s home. And now it’s mine and Michael’s home too.

If you have any questions about the area, our town or anything else, please feel free to ask in the comments or drop us a line using the contact page.

Cheers!

Ashley and Michael.

(also posted over at my photography blog)

Too Hot, Can’t Think….

If you’re in the northern hemisphere where it is summer then there is a good chance it is crazy hot in your city. Everyone I know from all over North America and Europe are talking about the heat.

Our town is no different. And the fact that our house doesn’t have any sort of air conditioning (or curtains, ’cause we’re still settling in) makes it feel like an oven. Yesterday it was so hot that we went out shopping just because most stores have air condition.

I think poor Spandy has the worst of it with his long fur. Yesterday I tried to cool him down by wiping him gently with a wet cloth. The fact that he hardly even had the energy to struggle told me he needed it.

So until it cools down here, send air-conditioned thoughts our way, okay?

Northern Gardening – Part 3

Life got away from me a bit and I haven’t done a very good job of keeping you up to date on how our garden is going.  Well, I am here to tell you that, despite the rocky clay filled soil and the incessant weeds, it’s growing! The above photo was taken a few weeks ago, everything is so much bigger now! All the seeds we planted are coming up and the potatoes are getting big! The only things not doing very well is the butternut squash, honey-dew melon and cucumbers. C’est la vie. You can’t win them all.

And when I say incessant weeds, I mean LOTS AND LOTS OF WEEDS!!! I filled this whole garbage can full of thistle in just one evening. And don’t even get me started on the chick weed.

But obviously our plants are a lot hardier than I imagined because look!

A pumpkin flower!!!

And a teeny baby zucchini!!!

It’s kind of amazing to see how plants change from flower to vegetable. To watch as the potato plants spread out their leaves and the curly vines of peas push through the soil. I can hardly wait until our lettuce and carrots are ready to make salads with!  At this point in the game, every time I go to the garden it seems that something new is going on.

My favorite time to go down there and work is in the evening, as the sun is sitting low on the horizon. Often I’m the only one there. I work the chick weed out of the soil, water, check on the progress of things. It’s blissful.

When is your favorite time of day to garden?

A list of some good things

It feels like time is just flying by here. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the hills were all brown with trees whose leaves had yet to burst out of their winter shells?

The last couple of weeks have mostly been positive, with the frustrations of starting our new life quieting a bit. Here is a quick list of things I’ve been enjoying:

– Peonies I picked up at the grocery store.

– Evening jogs when the town is quiet and the light is low.

– Watching movies on rainy evenings with Michael.

– Morning snuggles from Spandy the Cat (who is at the vet today for tooth surgery, my poor baby!)

– That the flowers are finally blooming here, the may day trees, a sort of flowering plum I think, the crab apple trees, and now the lilacs.

– The fact that almost everyone has a lilac bush in their yard. The smell fills the air and wafts around.

– A new lunch time bistro that opened up.

– Making plans for our much belated honeymoon to Rome in October.

Of course, things aren’t all roses and rainbows. There are still frustrations, like how the hard water leaves my dishes feeling, or the fact that our local butcher doesn’t carry prosciutto and no one carries any really good cheeses. They’re small things, things that in the end we will figure out alternatives for somehow. But today, today everything seems rosey.

Cheers!

Ashley and Michael

One Year Ago

One year ago today Michael and I were married. So much has happened since then, and I know that more is bound to come, but this weekend we had fun reliving some of the memories.

It was a crazy day. For me it started off early as I went to get my hair and make-up done with my bridesmaids. For Michael, it started out with a case of food poisoning from dinner the night before. So in-between hair and make-up I was making frantic phone calls to him and to his grooms men to make sure he was doing okay. He made it (of course) and once he got to the hotel and had some *coughcough* medicinal scotch, he was much better.

There was so many amazing moments about our wedding day, it’s hard to pick a favourite. Here are a few photos that I think capture everything the best.

Some quick notes about our day:

– My something old was my veil (my mom’s) and my flowered hair piece (my Oma’s), my something new was the dress and shoes, my something blue was a TARDIS pin (a BBC show Michael and I love), my something borrowed was the pin on my bouquet which was Michael’s Great-Grandmother’s from Germany.

– I walked up the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles and it was perfect.

– The drift wood used in our centre pieces was collected from Quadra Island where Michael’s family has gone camping every summer since he was 8.

– Because of the way the venue worked, the only place for the bridal party to be before the ceremony was also the place all the guests had to come through to get there. So it was a bit unorthodox in that the guests saw us all ahead of time, but it was actually one of my favourite parts. I loved being able to see everyone as they came in and see their faces individually as they saw us. I didn’t feel like it took any of the magic away from the ceremony, I felt it added so much warmth and joy.

– At one point Michael and I played badminton in-between the ceremony and the dinner. It’s not easy to play it in a wedding dress…

– My family cooked the whole meal. Seriously, it was pretty crazy and pretty awesome of them. I don’t think any of them will offer to do it again though, despite the fact that all the guests are STILL talking about how amazing the food was.

All of these photos were taken by Anna and Kasia of Gucio Photography. They were incredible and amazing to work with. I hope, despite the distance now, that we can work with them again sometime.

Well, one year down, a life time to go.

Cheers!

Ashley and Michael

Trials of the Northern Gardener

This past weekend and most evenings this week so far have been filled with gardening.

My parents, Michael and I are sharing two plots at our local garden that work out to be a total of 20′ by 60′. Which is HUGE. H-U-G-E!!!

It wouldn’t be that much of an issue if the soil didn’t need so much work. Not only are we a Zone 2 up here, the soil here is also predominantly clay. Our garden plots seem to be more clay than actual soil.  This means that most of Saturday and part of Sunday was spent trying to break up, remove, or work in the clay so that we could find some good soil. It was exhausting, and pretty much useless.

Look at that soil! We might as well be trying to grow things in field of boulders!!

In the end we decided to rack as many of the big chunks of clay off the top and use some store bought soil  around each individual plant. Hopefully this will give the plants a boost. I’m pretty sure they need all the help they can get!

So far we have planted 7 rows of potatoes (I know! SEVEN!!), a row of kohlrabi, half a row of beets, 3 pumpkin plants, 2 butternut squash, 2 zucchini, a row of tomatoes, a row of carrots and a small row of onions. We still have radishes, spinach and two rows of lettuce to plant. If possible we’ll try and squeeze in another row of carrots. Whew! I’m tired just thinking about it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of watering to do this evening.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Happy Thursday everyone!

These last few days have been pretty good up here in the north, the weather is getting nice and after last weekend, Michael and I are doing much better.

To try to counteract the inevitable “What do we do this weekend?” and the possible decision to spend the weekend moping and eating chocolate covered almonds, we’ve got a few plans already in place.

Plan #1: Take Spandy to the vet. Not the most fun plan, but with all the stress from the move, I just want to get him a check up.

Plan#2: Garden. This is the plan I’m most excited about. My parents and us have gotten two side by side plots at the local community garden and we have all kinds of exciting things we’re planting.

This garden will be a big learning curve for me because everything about growing things here is different. Vancouver was a Zone 7 (which pretty much means the ideal growing zone for most things unless it’s crazy and tropical). Here we’re a Zone 2/3 (which means we can grow… potatoes?). I’ve been told we can grow more than just potatoes here and we are certainly going to try!

Each of our garden plots is 20’x30′ which is HUGE! Considering most community gardens in Vancouver had less than a 5’x5′ plot and there were 6 year waiting lists to get into them… I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot! At first I wasn’t sure if we could find enough things to grow that would fill up all that space, but after a planning session with my mom, we have a pretty good list: tomatoes (cherry, roma and beefsteak), radishes, peas, lettuce (buttercrunch and romaine), spinach, carrots, onions, zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkins, kohlrabi, and lots of potatoes!

I have no idea how well any of these will do, but I’m excited to find out!

Are you planting anything this spring?

The Trouble with Weekends

This week has been one of great ups and great downs.

There have been times when both Michael and I start feeling like we’re really making a home here and are happy about it and then the next minute it all comes crashing down and we find ourselves feeling unsure in this strange place.

In all honesty, we shouldn’t be surprised about these feelings. Everyone we talk to, whether it’s friends from Vancouver or people in the grocery store, tells us that it’s so brave and challenging to make this move, to go from city to country. Everyone says that it must be such a difficult adjustment. We always laugh it off and say something appropriately vague and yet cheerful about it. But when we are home with just each other, something as simple as a stubbed toe will bring out intense feelings of frustration, sadness and anger. It is likely that we are expecting too much from ourselves, after all, it took us years to feel comfortable in Vancouver, why are we being hard on ourselves when it’s only been a month and a half?

During the week, when each day has an expected routine, these feelings don’t come to the surface as easily. We cling to the patterns of get up, feed the cat, eat breakfast, go to work, etc. In the evening we tell ourselves we are ‘chilling out’ by watching tv or reading, but in actuality I think we’re avoiding dealing with the stress of this move. But when the weekend hits, and plans aren’t so fixed, our facade crumbles a bit. It’s hard to hold up a wall that is falling down. This leaves us with feelings of stress and disappointment once the weekend is over. Weekends are supposed to be fun, right? And the fact that sometimes they aren’t makes us feel that much more unsure and unsettled.

Logically, I know that eventually these feelings will fade, eventually we will feel at home here. But emotionally, this time of transition, of unsure and unsettled is hard.

To end on a good note though, Michael started a new job this week! This is both very exciting and reassuring, but also more change and more transition. When we lived in Vancouver both Michael and I worked in the animation industry.  Part of the reason for this move was to make career changes. Mine was pretty easy, my dad’s company needed a secretary. Michael’s took longer to find, but I am pleased to say that he is now working for an insurance broker in town and is in training to become a broker himself. Hurray for Michael!

In amidst all this change and uncertainty, we begin and end each day together and I can’t think of a better constant to help us through.

 

Thank you for reading!

Ashley and Michael