Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Connecting Tofino to the World

Apparently the big screens at YVR (Vancouver International Airport) will be showcasing various communities to all those visitors funneling through for the Olympics. The videos have just been released and here is the one on Tofino. All the things you'd expect -- bears, whales, surfers, First Nations' carvers... No rain though! What do you think?

I am on my way to YVR soon, actually to go take a look see at this as the official chaperone of Daughter A and my sister. So, things will be quiet here for a few weeks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Surfing Season

If you're curious about the view of Tofino from a surfer's perspective, you might want to check out this video, by Vancity Allie.

On that note, the O'Neill Coldwater Classic is coming to the west coast. This is a five-event competition, with the others being held in Tasmania, Scotland, South Africa, and California. The competition is touted as the "1st pro contest to hit Canadian shores." I'm not entirely sure about that—there certainly seems to be a competition or two each year—but I'm no expert in this regard. They're always great events to check out. It will be held October 25-31 at Cox Bay. Bring a blanket and something warm to drink. (And there have been surf competitions here for decades. Not "pro" perhaps, but there were surf comps. down at Long Beach in the 1960s. More later—when this damn book comes out!)

And for the best surfing photos of the west coast (and beyond) around, check out Jeremy Koreski's website. Jeremy grew up in Tofino and he is getting international attention for his work, especially his surfing photos. But his other images are just stunning as well. If you're in Victoria, he has a show at the moment at Habit Coffee, 552 Pandora.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

History at the Pharmacy

I am an admitted history nerd. I've been writing about local history for several years now and the more and more I learn–and the more I interview people about their time on the west coast—the deeper connection I have to this place. I see stories everywhere.

You've got to love a town that posts little history lessons on the exterior of its drug store.

If you were travelling to Tofino (or Ucluelet or anywhere else on the west coast) from 1913 until the early 1950s, this is how you probably would have arrived— on the CPR ship, Princess Maquinna.

And if you fell off that ship, or somehow found yourself in need of rescue at the turn of the century, this is how the lifeboat crew, would have come to save you:

And at the turn of the century and for centuries before, this is how the shore of Nuu-chah-nulth villages looked like during the herring season each spring.

All for your viewing pleasure, on the wall of the pharmacy on Campbell St.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Peace Day in Tofino

Hey, it's International Peace Day in Tofino. Apparently we are the only city in Canada celebrating the day, thanks to the hard work and vision of John Wynne. Bad me for not posting about this earlier (...but there's that book I'm working on that's taking all my attention... it sure hurt yesterday when I was fused to my computer on a beautifully sunny day!) Hopefully if you're in town you'll be able to take in some of the great events planned for the day. Head on down to the village green. It looks like the weather will be on our side!

I just love this poster, a winner in a children's contest I believe.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tofino in the News (and In Season)

Tofino is getting a lot of press in the last few days and not for the best of reasons. This, of course, is wildly overstated. And, this? Well, it just makes me cranky. Aside from the fact that this little escapade was irresponsible, juvenile, and expensive, it has the potential to put a lot of people at risk including FH. And she doesn't want to talk about it? Poor darling. Let's hope a few reality checks with friends and family (and employers perhaps?) will help her understand why being flakey is not such a great quality in the real world where people like you to — ah let's see — show up for work, or not leave people frantic with worry because you said you were going surfing and DON'T SHOW UP AT HOME FOR THREE DAYS! At least the last time this happened the person who decided to take a runner had the courage to be a tad humble. He publicly apologized and thanked the people who searched for them. In fact, I am so impressed with him that you should go see what a fabulous photographer he is. It's clear he's not going to make the same mistake twice. I'm not so sure about Ms. Bianca.

Okay, crankiness over. More goodies are in season. Like these:

It's chanterelle season and thank goodness I have friends who love to pick them (and share). Daughter A and I cooked these babies up and served them on polenta. Yum.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Simple Gifts: Blackberries

Across from our house is one of the largest blackberry patches in town. Blackberries are an introduced species and they are a bit of a scourge around here but at least they are a scourge that tastes good. We can cut the blackberries in our backyard down to the ground and within a few months they're back up again bullying their way across the yard. Still, I tolerate them to a point.

Anytime I see a friend nibbling from the patch across the street I harass them, all in good fun, and tell them to get out of my blackberry patch. I haven't had a chance to pick any berries this year though and I figured they were mostly picked over by now anyhow. We have lots of other berries in the freezer to work through this winter. The other day I was chatting to a woman picking berries -- I don't know her well, but I do know she's lived in Tofino a long time and we often say hello. We chatted about berries (I'd just made my salal jelly, which thickened up well by the way) and, during the conversation, I said that I hadn't had time to pick any blackberries yet.

So yesterday I was walking downtown when the same woman drove by. We waved and then she drove across the street (not particularly safe, but it's much quieter in town right now!) and asked me if I'd had time to pick any blackberries yet. When I said no, she reached into her passenger seat and passed me a huge container of beautiful blackberries. I tried to decline — she'd worked hard for them; it was a huge container — and she insisted, saying "It's about all I can do right now and it makes me happy." The heart of Tofino indeed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bag-Free Tofino

It's a baby step, but still a step. Tomorrow, Tofino is going bag-free as part of International Plastic Bag Free Day (who knew?). We're pretty bag-free in our household, but I'll keep my eye open tomorrow to see how it goes on the street. Have a great weekend, all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tofino's First Power Outage of the Season

Yesterday about 4:00 pm or so, just as I was about to begin some earnest writing time — zappo — the power went out. Now the power goes out quite often in the winter, so we are fairly prepared — gas stove, lots of candles, flashlights, blankets, board games — but this was a calm and sunny fall afternoon. Probably an accident on the highway we thought. (As it turns out, no.)

Except when they come the evening before a deadline (it is very hard to explain to publishers in Toronto that the power is out and may be for a day or so), I love these power outages. Daughters A and P seem to as well and are ever hopeful on those Winnie-the-Pooh kind of blustery days that the power will go out so they won't have to go to school and we can build a fort on the couch. It was just daughter A and I last night, so we had our dinner, got a bit of homework/housework done while there was still enough light and then went for a walk. A lot of people had the same idea it seems — the streets were almost bustling. It was a warm evening and we were out in time for a sunset, which we watched from the Crab Dock. We both agreed that we live in one of the most stunning places in the world.

Jackie had a fully charged computer it seems, but sensibly didn't spend the entire evening on it. Here's her take on the evening.

[Female] Surfers, Are Doin' It For Themselves

For your day's read here is a great article (with photos showing Tofino at its sunny best) on female surfers and Surf Sister. From UK's Drift magazine.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tofino Via Liz's Palette

Pat and Liz, from Not An Octagon, were here a few weeks ago sketching and painting. I posted Pat's art last week, and now it's Liz's turn. Most of these were done in the Tofino Botanical Gardens. Check out Liz's website here

And Jackie at Tofino Residents has an interesting post here. If you know any worthy and needy non-profits (aren't they all?) in Tofino, you might want to nominate them for this funding. Thanks Tin Wis!

Monday, September 7, 2009

In Season: Salal

Salal is one of most common shrubs on the west coast. You may recognize the glossy green leaves from floral arrangements — it is harvested and sold to florists. Salal grows thick and tall. It was the bane of anyone shipwrecked on the coast. Even if you survived the wreck — so what — you were confronted with walls of the stuff. You do not want to get lost in this stuff. The berries were an important food for native people and the berries were dried into cakes and, of course, eaten fresh. I eat them fresh all the time. They're a bit mealy, but the taste is good. 

I've had a recipe for salal jelly tucked into my plant book for about 10 years or so and this morning I finally decided to do something about it. So I set off in the rain to gather an ice cream bucket full of berries. It is most unsatisfying to try to pick the berries one at a time if you are hoping for that plink, plank, plunk sound (a la Blueberries for Sal) in your bucket. The berries kind of mush a bit, so I resorted to just sliding my hand along the berries and smooshing them off the branch. A few leaves and twigs didn't matter as I was making jelly. From the licks on the spoon once I was done I can report that the jelly tastes deliciousl. I'm not sure if I got the pectin right though — a few jars seem too runny while others look like concrete. Shall report back.

An added bonus -- the cheesecloth I use for jelly is a beautiful shade of purple! Would make a wonderful dye if want a lovely natural dye. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Late Summer Rinse

At first I wrote "An Early Fall Rinse," but let's not push it. Fall is my favourite time of year and it is often lovely, warm, and (relatively) quiet here in Tough City. Still, it is raining a hard rain at the moment. The town is getting a much-needed rinse. I spent yesterday cleaning my kitchen and pantry – something that doesn't happen often here, but I felt the need to sort, organize, and purge. I don't think that's an uncommon feeling at this time of year. This weekend I'll be tidying up this blog a bit too. Tying up some loose ends and thinking about future posts.

I've updated the "THIS is what we do here" sidebar (we do much more than this of course, but these are some of the events happening in town should you be headed our way) and will add some more pictures to the slide show this weekend. Please make sure you take a peek at the "What Others are Saying" sidebar — there are some fun (and interesting) takes on Tofino through others' eyes. This feature is always changing. 

I also need to announce the winner of the second Eik St. t-shirt. (Drum roll please....) Congrats. to Marion. A lovely "Eik St. Tree T" is heading your way. Thanks again to Kate of Earth's Revolution for the t-shirts to give away.

If you are in town this weekend, you might want to try to find Mark Hobson, who will be painting at the Shorewind Gallery for the weekend. A wonderful guy. Well worth a visit (and it looks to be a drippy weekend, so it's an indoor alternative).

And, finally, I've had a few requests for the recipe for the Nanaifo Bars I wrote about on Canada Day, so I'll post it here. This version is gluten-free, but if you can eat gluten then just use regular graham cracker crumbs. Also, this is NOT a good recipe for people who like to pick apart layered desserts. If you try to eat the top layer (the chocolate) on its own you'll get a nasty surprise, because I use unsweetened chocolate. It is great when you bite down through all three layers though and cuts the sweetness ever so slightly. (And someone asked if the Bird's Custard powder is gluten-free. As far as we can tell, yes. FH has eaten it with no problems and what little I can find on the Internet seems to say that it is okay.)

Tough City Writer's Nanaifo Bars

(1) Melt in a double-boiler:
1/2 cup butter
5 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

(2) Add: 
2 cups crushed gluten-free graham wafers (or use crushed gluten-free cornflakes or vanilla cookies)
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Press in pan. Chill.

2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons Birds Custard powder
1/4 cup butter
Add enough milk to make icing (~ 3 tablespoons)

Spread over (1) and (2).

Melt 4 squares of unsweetened Baker's chocolate + 1 spoonful of butter. Spread over top and chill. 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Artist's Eye View of Tofino

Artist Pat Butler from the Not An Octagon Collective spent eight days in Tofino not so long ago and did some painting while here. Thanks, Pat, for giving me permission to post some of those images here.

The beach scenes are from MacKenzie Beach and the forest scenes from the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

Sadly, I had to miss this year's lantern festival. This darn book is biting into my time for fun. (Hopefully it will be worth it!) Here's a blurb and (apparently) links to a slide show though. It's a magical night that one shouldn't miss if they're ever in the area.