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Jour ne sais quoi

August 14, 2017

Bit of bad French punning indicates that I’ve lost track of what jour it is and can’t be arsed figuring it out right now.

What a lovely week I had last week with lovely Irmani. Too much to detail in one post, so it will take at least a couple of days.

Picked her up from the floatplane early Saturday evening. On the way home we took a short detour to say hello to the lighthouse.


Yes, that is an orca swimming by and, no, we didn’t see one. This is not one of the photos Irmani took which will pepper the rest of these entries. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve arrived here (or somewhere else on the island) to be told, “You just missed a huge pod of killer whales.” The answer I always want to give (but never do) is, “Why the fuck did you just tell me that? Why on earth would I want to know?” I’ve seen lots of marine mammals from the island’s shores, but never orcas.

I did tell Irmani about the popularity of the lighthouse island with sea lions when they are following the herring up the coast. Having eaten their fill, they swim out to the island and lumber up onto the shore where they sunbathe by day and bark day and night.

When she asked if it was still manned, I wasn’t entirely sure, although I suspected the answer was yes. Several years ago the Harper meanies announced that they were going to get rid of most of the country’s lighthouse keepers. Thankfully sunny Justin has reversed this decision. Yesterday I checked on line and it seems, according to this article I found, that this particular lighthouse was never abandoned.

Back to the house to open the bottle of prosecco on which I’d splurged and introduce her to the joys of the garden swing. (Seriously, you simply cannot greet a visitor with anything other than prosecco, can you?)

I’d also been rationing the bottles of sauvignon blanc she so very kindly sent me last winter, so there was good wine to have with dinner. (Pasta with prawns, cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs with lemon and olive oil – a dish I invented from ingredients on hand when my friend Catherine was visiting me in London some years ago.)

Sunday was an island day. A leisurely breakfast of homemade granola, yoghurt and freshly picked blackberries, then a drive down to the island’s sandiest beach to paddle in the surf (British definition, involving no boats, simply removing your shoes and getting your feet wet) and to check up on the starfish.

The first time I took Irmani to this beach in 2011 there were thousands of starfish clinging to the rocks during low tide. She couldn’t believe it. Frankly, neither could I. In the intervening years the starfish population along the entire Pacific coast has been devastated. (I was about to say “decimated”, but that would not be accurate as the true definition of the word is to wipe out 10% of the population. In the case of the starfish it’s been more like 90%.) Some years since the die off began in 2013 we’ve been hard pressed to spot a single starfish. So this was a welcome sight.

02 starfish

This is nothing, absolutely nothing like the number of starfish we used to see, but at this point seeing more than one is a cause of some happiness.

Heading home from the beach, with soup awaiting us, Irmani suggested a detour to the pub, where she would treat me to lunch. Suggestion accepted. Time for Caesars.

03 caesars

Hers was a double, mine a single. Her second was also a double. What with driving and all, my second was a virgin. (A couple of years ago Irmani and I took a little mini-break to Tofino. In a cocktail bar I ordered a Bloody Caesar. Hadn’t had one in ages. When she heard the word clamato and was told what it was, she turned her nose up and ordered something else. Clam and tomato juice? Ugh. Sounded revolting. When the drinks arrived curiosity got the better of her. She asked for a sip. It was love at first taste.)

After lunch it was time for a couple of games of pool. Pretty sure the wins were even, although her recollection might be better than mine.

Back to the house for a cup of tea and a game of Scrabble. Regular followers of Irmani’s Facebook posts will know that Scrabble features regularly in her travels – along with photos of completed games.

04 scrabble

I didn’t notice her snapping this photo, but there it was on her Facebook page the next day. It was an even game, ending with her score in the low three hundreds higher than my score in the low three hundreds. Considering she drew every bloody high value tile, not a bad showing on my part.

Then it was time for the pièce de résistance: my smoked salmon risotto. I have friends who live up island who, when I visit, invariably send me home with some smoked salmon. I had in the past used this in dips and in scrambled eggs. One summer they sent me home with so much I decided I needed to branch out. I wondered if I could find a recipe for risotto online. Indeed I did. You know how every now and then you make a recipe for the first time and when you take the first bite you think you’ve died and gone to heaven? That’s what this recipe was like. I’ve made it for all my visiting friends and all those friends want it again next time they visit. It is fucking delicious.

There was another Caesar during dinner prep. A bottle of lovely rosé with dinner, followed by I’m not sure how many box wine spritzers. Suffice to say I honestly have no idea what we did or talked about after dinner.

I do remember swallowing two aspirins and drinking a big glass of water as soon as I got out of bed Monday morning. Luckily both worked quickly, because it was time to get off the island.

To be continued…


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