Category Archives: Uncategorized

Merry Christmas from us and the Sealions

I have recovered from my dog attack, I’ve organized Christmas, we have tenants in place who are paying rent and not wrecking the joint (which makes a nice change from the last lot), John Darling’s hair, after dramatically falling out for no reason we can figure out, has all grown back, and the Cowichan Bay Sealions are sitting on the breakwater hooting and fighting and throwing fish in the air. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a pack of smelly sealions in the bay, so God Bless ‘Em!
I’m subbing steadily, and having a good time, though all this driving seems to be more than my hopeless little Kia can manage. This fall we have organized both a transmission replacement and a radiator refurbishment. Turns out the ONLY good thing about my Kia Rio is that when the temperature shoots through the roof, because of a dramatically failed radiator, the engine shuts down BEFORE everything melts. This is a good feature and greatly to be encouraged. However, when I’m a passenger in my own car (when John Darling is driving), you can be entertained by the sight of my spitting and snarling as I roll down my window to reach out to open my car door from the outside. The door latch doesn’t work from the inside. Some day I’ll get around to having it fixed, but I’m so dismayed by the other, systemic, problems, that so far I count it as trivial and a nuisance and not worth addressing – just spitting at.
My friend from Quadra Island scored enough sockyarn for me from a yarn store that went out of business to knit 45 pairs of women’s socks in autumn colours. I am delirious with happiness. And another friend from Oregon sent me a WHOLE BOXFUL of bee-you-tiful yarn which I have stored in storage RIGHT NEXT to the sockyarn. John Darling is under strict orders to make sure both stashes are accessible at all times. No tools in front! No car tires in the way! No pressure washers underfoot! Looking at the stack at the back in storage, even I admit I own quite a lot of yarn. A retired husband who runs errands and enough yarn to last me a lifetime – I am a fortunate woman. A little greedy, but fortunate.
The tree is up, all 18 inches of it, and it’s only fallen over twice when powerboaters burned past at incredible speeds. When my tree falls, it does rather spray ornaments. John calls it ‘Catherine’s Christmas Mess’. I admit it’s a touch overdecorated.
This season I’ve volunteered for the Salvation Army kettle program. They let me ring the jingle bells. It’s a lot of fun, and the weather’s mild, so I arrived at my first shift last night dressed in enough woolens to satisfy even a sheep and was actually warmish. I let a little baby in a carriage ring the bells twice by accident. I didn’t recognize him the second time because he was dressed in different clothes than when he went in. The father was a little abrupt the second time around – he seemed in a hurry to get somewhere. Also the child was sitting higher in his carriage – he might have been uncomfortable.
I’m subbing nearly every day, and though I can’t get my students to do much work at this time of year, it’s all fun. If everyone leaves smiling, it’s all good.
May the blessings of the Season be with you now and always. Merry Christmas.

On Dogs and Dog Days

How I have neglected my website these past two months! John and I landed safely back in Cowichan Bay after a couple of weeks of meandering around the Gulf Islands taking pictures, fouling the prop, etc. etc. There we were in Princess Bay at anchor. We were quite pleased with ourselves until we realized we’d backed over the darn dinghy-painter and wrapped it round and round the prop. FYI, we didn’t use the word ‘darn’.
So the man I love took off his shirt and girded his loins and just as he was readying himself for a jump into the water, and I was wringing my hands and worrying who would marry me if he drowned, when a diver swam by. Yes, a diver. A lovely man from Seattle whose wife talked him into helping us – he dove on the prop five or six times and unwrapped and cut away enough line that we could continue our voyage without having to find a diver from somewhere else. God loves us.
The man who dove on our boat didn’t want to come for dinner, so I dropped off some brandied blackberry jam instead and we fed another, Canadian, couple who had rowed over to offer moral support. We had such a nice evening, and the whole time we were eating and drinking and laughing and exchanging stories, our prop was innocent of dinghy-painter. Knowing this made the food taste even better.
After that, how could we lose? We motored to Montague Harbour and stayed a couple of days and visited with some friends, and then we made our way to Port Browning to drop books off at the bookstore and take photographs for an article that had been commissioned by 48 North magazine.
Then we came home with no mechanical issues whatsoever, docked neatly without hitting anything, and I finished all my article-writing before labour day.
I lucked out this year – two or three magazine editors actually got back to me. Mostly magazine editors don’t talk to writers because it just encourages them. Then the editor of one mag said he thought he could publish four articles from me a year, which is great. To my surprise, in August I was published in four different magazines. I hope there was no overlap – I was too frightened to look.
Just as I was sure there was no more excitement in store for me, the tenant’s pit bull attacked me. I was very lucky, though it didn’t feel lucky at the time or for one or two weeks afterward, that the dog didn’t tear off my mons pubis instead of puncturing it and turning it black. I’m not what you’d call a fan of dogs in general, so this was a very satisfying experience that confirmed every vicious prejudice I harbour against dogs. And don’t anybody say, “It’s the owner, not the dog.” The owner didn’t damn well bite me. The dog did that, and thoroughly. Forgive the snarling, but I don’t like dogs, pit bulls or people who defend them. For heaven’s sake, it’s like owning an Uzi and then being all surprised when there’s an accident. That’s my rant for the month, and I defend my right to make it.
My latest opus, “Darling, the Gulf Islands Have Moved, or our Anchor Has!” will likely come out in December.At the same time I also hope to publish the first collection of my ‘Jessica’ stories – “Jessica and the Polar Bear.” I sent my three Jessica chapter-book manuscripts to my parents, who told me they have no immediate plans to sue me. Good news! I shall rush out and publish before they change their minds.
And that is all the news that’s fit to print. Our vessel works so well, we are rubbing our hands and planning a whole summer of boating next season. I am healing in body if not attitude toward furballs with teeth, Paul had a wonderful visit this month, and I’m back in the swing of substitute teaching.
May God be with you now and always.

Back from the wilds of Genoa Bay

We dropped the anchor and hung around Genoa bay for a week – a week of rowing 15 minutes out and three minutes back. A week of baking artisan bread and eating leftover mac and cheese. A week of drinking coffee and knitting a lace cowl pattern of surpassing intricacy and cobwebby horribleness (this was me, not John Darling) until my eyes were crossed and my tongue thick with snarling. When I finished the fool thing, my toes curled with sheer happiness. I varnished and sanded and varnished some more, and I whipped line ends until I’d tidied every line on the boat, and I admired from afar and up close the sewing job I did on the Velcro fastener of the mizzen sailcover. I walked and rowed and ate chocolate.
Then we looked at the fuel gauge.
“Honey,” I said, “How much fuel did we have when we started?”
“About half a tank,” John said.
“It’s registering empty,” I said.
“Impossible,” John said. “We can’t have used half a tank in the 15 minutes it took to motor here from Cowichan Bay. That’s 12 gallons. The gauge must be broken.”
So we dug out the headlamp so John could climb into the engine room and actually see what he was doing, only to find that our headlamp didn’t work any more. But I am a woman not without resources. Using a bit of leftover Velcro I had hanging around, I stuck an LED flashlight of the flat variety on the front of the headlamp, then whipped everything in shape with a bit of sockyarn. John Darling thinks I am a genius. He climbed into the engine room and fiddled for a bit.
“I bet it’s not broken at all,” I said. “Let’s try filling the fuel tank.”
“If the gauge is broken, someone will have to lie flat on her back in the companionway and shine a flashlight beam onto the overflow pipe to see when it changes colour,” John said. “I’ll show you where to shine the beam.”
As I lay in the passageway, it struck me that SOMEONE should clean the corners there, so John Darling passed me a bit of vinegar and paper towel, and I wiped up the worst of the grot in the passageway. There’s no hope for our engine room at all. I didn’t even try.
After I lay there 1/2 hour or so making friends with spiders, I heard a scream of joy from John Darling. “The gauge is working!” he cried. “It’s registering 1/4 of a tank.”
Unfortunately, after I was helped to a sitting position and had lumbered to my feet, it occurred to both of us that this was a good news/bad news sort of thing because WHERE was our diesel going? We weren’t burning it, we weren’t spewing it into the bilge or the sea – WHERE was it going? Our little gauge works fine, but it was calling out to us that the day tank was empty and WHY was it empty?
We thought about it every now and then during the rest of our week at anchor.
We did make it back safely (John Darling took it easy on the engine, which seemed to slow down our fuel loss), and we pulled into our slip at Cowichan Bay only 1/8 of a tank down.
George of the Snowy Beard thinks we’re siphoning or pumping fuel from the day tank back into the starboard tank. Because he is a local and full of Cowichan Bay optimism, he thinks it can be fixed.
Bless his heart, I hope he’s right.
The sun is shining and my heart is singing. Showers for everyone tonight. Who wouldn’t be happy?
Book #7 is edited and nearly ready to go, and I’m in Pacific Yachting AND 48 North this month. Just so you know, 48 North pays in AMERICAN dollars, and considering the pathetic state of our own dollar, this is news that fills me with excitement. I love Americans. They are wonderful.
However, I hope both magazine editors don’t read eachother’s publications this month. They may notice that both articles are about Genoa Bay. Heck, we haven’t GONE anyplace else for a couple of years.
love to you all,

School’s Out!

Well, thank goodness. School’s done, and I lived. I’ve spent the last couple of days mucking about the boat doing laundry, changing bed linen, scrubbing mold out of corners, and re-sewing the Velcro fastening on my home-made mizzen sail cover. The sail cover was not a very professional job to begin with, but in recent years it had fallen on even harder times, and it was a very sad looking rag indeed before I took it in hand. I washed it (on the QT – I didn’t want to be caught in public with anything that grotty) in a public laundry, then slapped a bit of Velcro in place and sewed it. Doesn’t that sound easy? “I sewed it.” This involved quite a lot of swearing because my sewing machine is an old singer that doesn’t do well with thick or heavy fabric, and the sail cover had stiffened with age and UV damage, and besides the thread I used was horrible springy UV-resistant stuff that is far too heavy a gauge for my machine. More than four stitches threw my tension all for heck, so I snarled a bit and re-threaded and thrashed about until the job was done. Not done well, but done. The stitching will probably last a couple of years, or about as long as the sail cover will. By then we should have enough cash to invest in more Sunbrella fabric so we can start all over again.
I haven’t many skills, but I have a varied and imaginative vocabulary.
We’re waiting on a fuel sensor, which is absolutely the last installation before we head out to ‘do’ the Gulf Islands.
I spent yesterday pitching article ideas to boating magazine editors, bless their buttons. I’ve collected kill fees from most of them, so I live in hope. My next lot of article ideas will be for RV magazine editors, but I’m not too optimistic because most of the RV magazines I have seen are hideous up-market things intent on selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rolling real estate to gullible rich people. My last RV magazine publisher retired and ceased publication. Her style was down-home and aimed at actual people who actually camped, and she appreciated my humour enough to publish it. Many years ago an RV magazine editor told me “Your article brings discredit to RVing,” at which point a) I knew the article was really funny, and b) I knew I wasn’t publishable in shiny RV magazines.
So if anyone spots a small, grotty RV magazine, please let me know. I would be very interested in writing for them.
John Darling is going bald on top, so he has taken to wearing hats indoors. He will be adorable with or without hair, so I’m not as fussed as he is. Also, he’s been through internal bleeding and a horrible bout with cancer, so by contrast, a little hair loss and I’m doing the hornpipe on the deck with joy.
And there I will close – with joy.

Summer in the Sun

Now that our daytank is clean as the Disney Channel, we have great expectations that we shall go sailing. Of course, before that we must fix the daytank sensor, a niggling problem which John Darling has been working on for a month. The proper Cowichan Bay way of doing things is to a) look at the problem, b) ask advice from the guys who hang around the Lighthouse CafĂ©, and then c) say you haven’t got the right tools. We’ve taken several runs at the daytank, which is hidden in the back of our engine room. This is bad, because both of us are far too old to crawl into THAT engine room. It is a place nobody enters willingly. The streaks of condensation, the rust, the diesel fumes, the flakes of paint, the probably live wires dangling down. . . there is nothing attractive about that space. There’s likely no danger from the dangling wires, because over the years John Darling has tested all of them. It was early in our liveaboard lives that I once heard a loud ‘bang’, every breaker in the boat blew, and John Darling crawled out of the engine room looking quite pleased with himself. At that moment I was nearly made a widow.
I’ve spent the last few weeks slogging in a classroom. Substitute teaching is easy. You swan in and swan out, you get to actually teach, and there’s no pressure to do much or know anything except your subject, and after work you go home and drink a lovely cup of coffee and watch DVDs of British detective shows.
The sustained craziness of being in the same classroom for a few weeks, especially at year’s end, is enough to do in the most stalwart educator. Suddenly, I’m awake nights worried about students who haven’t turned in enough work. (They’re probably not lying awake worrying about it). I’m hunched over piles of papers marking. I’m planning a ‘MacBeth’ party. (cranberry juice in wineglasses, awards for my readers like ‘Most graceful corpse’ and a party game of ‘McDuff find the murderer’) I’m apologizing to the librarian because I swiped 25 copies of MacBeth out of the bookroom without having any idea they were supposed to be checked out. I’m trying to figure out how to use the Provincial mark-recording website without being able to sign in (The principal, bless his heart, came to the realization that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks in time for the year-end deadline). Christians 2, Lions 4.
But this weekend the marking is done, the report cards are done, and I’m done in. I’m ready for a lovely cup of coffee and an episode of ‘Inspector Morse’. I shall knit socks. I shall pitch ideas to magazine editors. I shall finish editing my next book. No – wait. I shall take a nap.
May this summer weather bring you much happiness.

Fouled tank, cheery humour

We hauled! Yessss. We hauled, and even better, I talked the man i love into HIRING people. Going to Maple Bay, we had a little trouble with a clogged seacock and seawater sloshing around the cockpit, none of which is good. “Me and George can bail,” my husband told me.
“Are you NUTS?” I yelled. “You’re like those crazy women who think if they can diagnose a guy that’s the same thing as being able to live with him. HIRE someone.”
So he did.
Then, “We don’t need anyone to help us paint the bottom,” he said. “We can do it ourselves.”
“Honey, who is this ‘we’?” I asked. “HIRE someone.”
So he did. Bless Pete and Dan – they painted and I didn’t have to. Actually, I lasted an hour before I handed over my paintbrush. And George, who had helped bring the boat over, supervised the powerwashing & pronnounced the seacock cured when a gobbit of water sprayed out the cockpit drain.
Motoring home the engine worked beautifully right until it quit halfway up Sansum Narrows. John had to be towed in by the Coast Guard. I hopped up and down on the dock and yelled, much to the amusement of the six local men with smirks on their faces who had gathered on our dock to help catch lines.
“Take a good look at me,” I hollared. “You’ll never see me again. A week from now I’ll be living in a condo.”
It’s some time later and no condos came by, so I am still on the boat – and somewhat calmed down.
John Darling crawled around the engine room for awhile until he figured out that a fuel stoppage chocked our engine (we hope short of the injectors) because our daytank is fouled.
“Hire someone,” I said. So we got a fuel filtration company who said all they needed was an inch and a half access top and bottom (these guys are the masters) and for a mere $250.00 an hour they’ll solve all our problems. They’ll arrive, like cavalry, at the end of the month.
We can’t afford to live in a condo because we own a boat.
So I continue to teach and tutor. My writing career, such as it is, seems to have ground to a halt because there aren’t any boating magazines willing to publish me anymore. I was on the masthead of at least three magazines that tanked, which is not the kind of thing your brag about on a resume, and the RV Times publisher is downsizing & doesn’t want to pay me. That leaves Edge YK, and I’m running out of ideas for then. The problem with memoir is that it’s a finite resource. The material does not continue to climb the graph to an infinite end off the edge of the page. I am limited to what happened in highschool, and some of that is too depressing to talk about. I mean, I love my alma mater, dear Sir John Franklin HS in Yellowknife, NT, but you couldn’t pay me to go back there.
I have the manuscript for the next book nearly ready to go, but whether I can publish depends on how many hours it’ll take the tank guys to fix our problem, bless their hearts. Tanks take the higher seat at the table over books.
Paul has gone back to Edmonton and I miss him. Paul and I both were grateful to fly Westjet, which is such an improvement over 24 hours on a Greyhound bus, that words fail me.
So we continue to work and fix things, and the sun is shining, and the engine light hasn’t recently flashed up on my car, and Rupert phoned us last night.
Much love to you all, and many blessings.

Anybody Wanna Buy a Boat?

It is Spring Break, and I’m so relieved my eyes are crossed. We’ve had a most horrible three months. Following is a partial list:
I concussed myself slipping on ice at the ONLY highschool in the entire district that was adequately salted. I must have stepped on the one patch in the parking lot that the salter had missed. One highschool didn’t salt at all – they posted an Educational Assistant out front to watch people fall instead, which is not what I’d call a sensible strategy, but it might fool a lawyer.
Luckily, right after the fall I was able to attend the boat show and sit and knit for a few days. Sales were so awful that there was not much action at my display, so there’s mercies in everything. I did, however, draw enough business to pay for our stay in a 2-star hostel. I bet Margaret Atwood has never had that experience. If not, she has missed out.
Shortly after we arrived home from Vancouver, lighter by a box of books, we received a call from our insurance agent, who told us that before they’ll insure our boat we must have an out-of-water survey. They used to require them every 5 years, but someone sitting at a desk decided we need them every three years instead, and this was the year. And by the way, the insurance adjustors require 90 days heads-up to peruse the survey before our insurance comes due, so could we possibly haul in a week or two?
I’m not usually snippy on the phone (well, sometimes I am), but it was SNOWING and there was ICE on the water and we’d have had to motor to Maple Bay so I was understandably not thrilled. Besides, when it snows Steve at the haul-out won’t operate his travel lift and who wants to paint in the snow? Paint doesn’t even STICK in the snow.
After John Darling and I worked ourselves into a state of indignation, we booked a haul-out for March, and then John Darling came down with pneumonia. Then I came down with flu. Then we drove to the airport so I could bring my Paul back from Edmonton for a visit.
Shortly after Paul arrived we discovered that every time we turn on the boat engine the raw water engine-cooling system, which discharges partly into one of our cockpit drains wasn’t discharging properly because the drain was buggered, so whenever the engine runs the cockpit fills with water. If we try to fix the thru-hull in the water and mess it up we could potentially sink the boat, we knew we’d have to haul to deal with it.
John Darling fiddled with the drain a bit, then couldn’t start the engine because the starter motor is buggered.
Then we found that the starter motor, in its last gasp, had messed up part of the 12-volt system and one of our pump-out pumps didn’t work, meaning that we couldn’t have showers or we’d fill the boat up with fresh water as well as the salt water from the cockpit.
I was tasked to drop off the starter motor at PC Auto Electric. There I offered to sell the boat for $1,000.00 to the staff. They declined. John said later I should have dropped the price to $500.00.
Now, some days later, having put off the haul-out three times in a row, we have
met some lovely repair people
had fixed the water pump problem so we can take showers
have ordered a new starter motor
increased the price of the boat to $1,500.00.

We haul on Friday. We’ve hired a nice young man to bail while John Darling and George of the Snowy Beard steer this old tub to Maple Bay. I understand Ben Affleck is filming a movie at Maple Bay. I’m sure he’ll be very impressed when our vessel arrives sinking.
Paul and I won’t be there – I’m taking Paul shopping. We’ll meet them there. The last time this happened, I had to bail the whole way in to Thetis Island Marina, and I was so hopping mad I swore I’d never do it again.
And now it’s Spring Break. Paul is having a wonderful visit, bless his optimistic good-nature. We’re singing in the rain and going for walks and eating at the A & W and going swimming and watching Inspector Lewis episodes in our pyjamas in the evenings. He is a blessing.
Paul thinks I should kiss Daddy to cheer him up. Daddy thinks so too.
Much love to you all,
So things are looking up, the boat is still floating, and John Darling has cheered up enough to go out for coffee.

Shovelling in a Winter Wonderland

It is a snow day, so hurrah for that! It means I got to book off all my school districts and shovel the dock for my exercise. Ten minutes into the job, and I was whipped, but I persevered even though a lone seagull flew past me and thought, “What on EARTH are you doing?” I got the same incredulous reaction from some of the local men slinking past to return cases of beer empties. Or maybe their reaction was more guilt than astonishment, though they needn’t feel bad. Some of the men on our dock are quite elderly, and one has a bad hip, and besides, exercise accounts for my killer figure and good nature, so it’s to everyone’s advantage to have me shovel, especially John Darling, who can attest to some lapses in the good nature but is too much of a gentleman to tell everybody.
Then I came back to the boat and ate three slices of bakery raisin-bread-and-butter, which counteracted the exercise, but no matter.
John and I are safely back from the boat show (NO snow that weekend!), where we had a wonderful time. We spent all our profits on the two–star hostel where we stayed, but it was still fun. Not even one bedbug, and no mice anywhere. The room smelled a bit funny, like rotted wood, but then the building is nearly as old as the city of Vancouver. Also, they no longer rent rooms by the hour. Class.
I’d like to point out that of all the friends I invited to stay with us, not one person was brave enough to step forward and share a bathroom with us at the ‘Ho’. This denotes a failing on the part of our friends. Truth is, John Darling and I both have lived in far worse accommodations in the Arctic. There’s something reassuring and familiar about checking into a grotty hotel. It evokes memories of substandard housing in our pasts, when we were younger and things were simpler and we looked to the future with energy and optimism. Or maybe we’re just cheap and a bit crazy.
The boat show itself was a lot of fun, though people weren’t wildly excited about buying books. I sold all I’d brought, though, and I got to talk to some lovely people. I look forward to every boat show so I can visit with the other authors. They’re a fine and talented bunch. Anthony Dalton gave me a copy of his new title, “The Mathematician’s Journey,” which is a rip-snorter of a read. Anthony researches his books meticulously, then writes an adventure tale around his findings. The Mathematician’s Journey’ is the story of a young Englishman’s voyage with Henry Hudson. The details are fascinating, and the plot sucks you in one end and spits you out the other. The Yeadon-Jones will have a new edition of one of their cruising guides out this spring, and THREE of Peter Vassilopoulos’ cruising guides have been updated. Alan Boreman was back with his ‘Beer in the Bilges’, which is a must-read for anyone planning an offshore trip. Hilarious. Leona and Erik Skovgaard have a new technical title. Erik is a boat gadget VHS and Radar and all of it genius, and his wife Leona is the best salesperson I’ve ever met. Erik may be the ONLY author I’ve ever met who may retire rich. My hat goes off to Leona.
My own new title, “Darling, Don’t Try This at Home – Recipes from Mottle Cove’, sold briskly. The marina owners, however, have taken note of the piles of boxes in the common storage area. Selling books is so darn difficult In this post-reading age, that I have NO FEAR that anybody will steal them – hence the stacks of boxes. “Are you running out of your earlier titles?” John asked me once. “No. . . ” I replied. “I have a lifetime supply stored under the bread store.”
I have spent some of my evenings practising Egyptian hieroglyphs. John Darling bought me a Teaching Company course on hieroglyphs for Christmas, and I’m having a really fun time learning how to translate them. I am, however, not yet fluent. Hieroglyphs keep my mind off American politics.
love to you all, and many blessings!

Happy New Year!

The deep freeze has frozen us in. We have, however, intermittent water, which is good news because it means we have intermittent washing, which is better than NO washing. As I’ve often said, “We smell funny, but our hearts are light.”
It’s flippin’ cold in the mornings, but I stagger out of bed, turn off the electric heat so I don’t blow the breakers when I plug in the coffee pot, fire up the kerosene heater checking for yellow flame and death by carbon monoxide poisoning, and look on the computer to see who else is up at 5:30 AM. So far I’ve been disappointed. My friends are so much more sensible than I am. As a matter of fact, so is John Darling, who doesn’t get out of his warm berth until the temperature in the main saloon has risen to a bearable level.
Our Christmas was quiet. We ate dinner with a dear friend who is also a wonderful baker of pumpkin pies. So we enjoyed a turkey dinner, really good company, and pumpkin pie, which was a win for sure.
I didn’t go wild with boat interior decorations this year. Usually I erect a small but crowded plastic tree with tiny-perfect ornaments that fly in all directions whenever the boat rocks, but this year I left the plastic tree in storage and set up a tree-shaped tea light. John Darling was delighted because he hates Christmas in general and my tree in particular, which he calls ‘Catherine’s Christmas Mess’. It’s true that I don’t have much of an eye for design. None, in fact. The tea-light did fine.
Just before Christmas some mean person stole about four months’ worth of knitting from our storage area – 20 Cowichan hats, about 7 pairs of men’s socks and the pink mohair mittens I’d knit for my Mom. I was a bit upset at first, until I realized I had such a stash of back knitting that I could give a hand-knit gift to every person on my list anyway, so with Christmas cheer in my heart I wrapped everything up and mailed it off. The Christmas cheer flagged a bit once I found out how much the postage was going to cost. Good Heavens!
Book #6 is doing surprisingly well, considering everyone ELSE found out how much postage cost this Christmas, but I have the Boat Show to look forward to. I think the title is fairly good – “Darling, Don’t Try This at Home! Recipes from Mottle Cove.” Also, the initial feedback has been enthusiastic, at least among my non-cooking friends. They use the word ‘hilarious’. My cooking friends have maintained a horrified silence. My Uncle Don read the book, decided I needed help and sent me a fish recipe. He was right, of course. I am a terrible cook, so the recipe was greatly appreciated.
Here it is: Cod Dijon (or haddock, sole or salmon)
SAUCE: 3 tbl melted butter 1tsp lemon juice 1 tsp Worcester sauce 1 tsp Dijon mustard METHOD: Rinse fillet in cold water and pat dry Place on a lightly greased baking pan Cover with sauce and sprinkle with bread crumbs.(We use Panko) Bake @ 420 F for 10 minutes

The book in all its glory can be ordered from my website, or by sending $22.00 CAD or $23.00 AMD to me. Interested parties can e-mail me at
Someone decided the Vancouver International Boat Show should be held in January this year. The dates are Jan 18 – 22. John Darling and I look forward to the boat show every year, not least because we get to stay in the Ivanhoe Hotel, which is a two-star hostel nestled in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Now, a two-star hotel in London, England, is usually quite respectable, but a two-star hotel in Vancouver is usually less appealing. I’ve already offered to have some friends move into the ‘ho’ with us for the six days of the boat show, but they have declined. Can’t imagine why. We didn’t tell anybody about the mouse we saw except the desk clerk, and he assured me it was my imagination. And the scrabbling I heard behind the wall of the women’s washroom down the disinfectant-smelling hall wasn’t rats. He assured me of that. And he was quite right, because apparently rats and mice never coexist.
We can’t wait.
I’ll make speeches again this year. The organizer wanted to know if I wanted the use of a demonstration kitchen for my presentation on ‘The use of galley appliances when your stove is no good.’, but the dear child had obviously never read my books. Also, I will be talking about anchoring in the Gulf Islands. Now I’m more of a humourist than I am a sailor, but we have had surprising luck anchoring, considering our lack of wisdom, knowledge and common sense, because our equipment is heavy. This is the secret.
May God bless you all in the new year. May His love keep you, and may His light shine upon you.

Merry Shortbread and Blessings all ’round

Well, hello on a snow day from a warm boat!
Some years ago we discovered kerosene heat. I like it a lot. I may well die of carbon monoxide poisoning, but it’ll be with a smile on my kisser, like Sam McGee. We started our boat life with a diesel oven that stank abominably and belched and leered at me. It was an ugly lump of metal, so I whined until John Darling pulled it out, and we froze for the next 10 years until we stumbled across a kerosene heater in Canadian Tire. The first year I sat in front of that heater and inhaled the fumes and enjoyed every single minute! All those years in the Arctic, and I never did get to like being cold.
I woke up this morning at 5:00 (don’t ask. It has to do with old age) and when I poked my head out the hatch, there was snow drifting down with silent and deadly intent. Naturally, I was very excited because it meant a day off, so to celebrate I plugged in the coffee pot and planned my activities for the day, which have been extremely basic. I shovelled, I danced to Richard Simmon’s ‘Sweating to the Oldies’, I knit part of a sock, and I baked 50 shortbread cookies. I passed the cookies on to the neighbours, some of whom were also out shovelling.
John Darling is resistant to joining in when I sweat to the oldies. “Go Richard!” I yelled. “Sweat it to me baby!” I shrilled. John has a lot to put up with.
Tonight I shall re-read Antonia Fraser’s ‘Lives of the Kings and Queens of England’. I shall knit socks. I shall plan next year’s Christmas. I shall bake more shortbread.
Sometimes, life is best when you do the least. My toes are curling with happiness.
May God bless you this sacred season and always.