Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Around the World

Yesterday afternoon Keith and Isabella arrived to stay for a few days. "Home" is England - but since October of last year, they have been traveling around the world. They have been to Africa, India, China, Australia, and have just driven up the Oregon coast from California to see what Canada is all about. Two very adventurous people, very interesting and inspiring. I love this job!

Morning visitors

Yesterday morning I glanced out the kitchen window to see mama deer and her two babies nibbling on Marcie's flowers. I raced around, found my camera and after snapping a few through the glass, opened the side door to the kitchen - the better to see you with my deer (couldn't help that one!) I expected that the noise from the door would send her leaping away, but instead she sauntered a little ways off, continued to look back at me steadily and then proceeded to nurse. She has her priorities straight, and she also knows who is in charge (apparently not me).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Guests of 2011

I'm blessed. The first guests at the beginning of May were Alan Haig-Brown and his wife Ananya , along with Ananya's daughter Lotus, who was visiting them from Thailand. It was a wonderful weekend, despite a bit of rain. Undaunted, they hiked the Canyon Trail, did a bit of shopping, visited old friends, and still had energy left over for sharing back at the house. Alan was generous with his time and his memories - of his father reading him the works of Kipling night after night in the study, and his mother Ann coming in promptly at 9:30 to call him for bed. And what the rule was for kids wanting to play by the river, "two people always together" (one to return and report if the other had drowned!) Lots of laughs, lots of throat-choked moments. There's a peaceful energy in that study that everyone feels and comments on, the moment they step through the door. It was great to hear how the library was created by both Rod Haig-Brown and Ann, and how the study was used by them all as a family. I so appreciated Alan's sharing - he was just the best guest and so much fun and Ananya and Lotus are a lovely mother/daughter duo. Our conversations were stimulating and very interesting. I was so glad to have met them. The picture was taken on their departure morning, just outside the front door. I hope they visit again soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring 2011 at Haig-Brown Heritage House

I am really looking forward to the Bed & Breakfast season here at the Haig-Brown House. This is definitely a full circle experience for me in my first year as Site Manager of this beautiful house. In the 70's I worked at the Courthouse when Rod Haig-Brown was a lay Judge here in Campbell River, and I really enjoyed that experience. And so it is definitely a privilege to be here and caring for this beautiful, peaceful place this year.

The camellia at the front door was in full bloom the first week of May and quite fabulous - and then to top it off, my friend Marjorie presented a beautiful pot of yellow tulips, which I nestled in underneath on the bottom step. Marcie, our wonderful gardener, warned me that the deer would make short work of them. Alas! I didn't listen. But before they munched them, I managed to capture it all with with my camera - and will be dragging the easel out to lay it all down with paint as soon as possible. This property is a painter's delight!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Van Egan 1926 - 2010

It was several years ago when I first saw Van. He was sitting at a table at the Haig-Brown Festival; the table was covered in books, his as well as others. He sat quietly, watching the crowds with his sparkling eyes. I was drawn to the man because of his obvious awareness and sense of self, tho I felt I had nothing to say that could be of interest to him.

After spotting the billboard which advertised himself and his publications, I stopped at the table and thumbed through some of the volumes. We smiled at each other and exchanged greetings. Then I moved on, feeling a bit sheepish at my shyness, scouring my mind for a topic I thought might be of interest to the man I'd heard so much about.

Twenty minutes later, after winding my way through the fair and considering a topic to begin a conversation, I rounded a tent to find him again - in deep conversation with two other men who had sandwiched the beloved Van between them, chairs close in a triangle which did not allow an inquisitive woman like myself to intrude.

Imagine my delight when, in 2009 and in my position as the B&B host at the Haig-Brown House, I had the opportunity to invite Van for breakfast. Guests of the house were doing a report on Roddy, and wanted to interview Van for the article.

He arrived with his long-time friend, newspaper editor Neil Cameron, and the breakfast table was alive with the informative and sharp discussions of salmon, government, environment, and education. This mostly from Van, as clear and evocative as a man thirty years younger than his age of 83. I was enthralled.

Here's a previous post (within this blog) regarding that day:

Please find below a link to the Campbell River Courier Islander, where Neil has published several articles on Van Egan.


Let us all raise a glass to this lovely, lovely man. Here's to you, Van.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mark & Misa, our First Guests of the Season

Mark and Misako called to let me know they'd be late (first clue).

When this darling couple arrived, they were escorted by another vehicle full of fly fishers (clue #2).

With little hesitation, we made our way into Roderick Haig-Brown's study, where the two of them looked around in dazed awe for awhile. Soon, their mouths closed and smiles formed (third clue) and they relaxed enough to engage in conversation, mostly about Rod and his life here.

Mystery solved; they're avid, nay, passionate-eat-sleep-breath-LIVE fly-fishers!

If you'd like to know something about fly-tying; no, make that anything, anything-at-all about fly tying, by all means, ask Misa or Mark.
Believe me, they will know!

Mark explained the reason for driving their truck all the way from Arkansas (their home) was the seventeen "events" they were visiting in North America, this stop being one of them.
As fly-tyers, they go to huge shows / gatherings / conventions where they sell their flies and / or put out information on their own classes back home, or compete, or simply fish.
As well, Misa is a world champion team leader, currently for the Japan fly-fishing team. They did mention a few fly-fishing club / organization boards which they have been directors of, but I didn't get them all (there were a lot!)

I've inserted a few photos from these two very lively people.

All of the badges were on the couple of shirts that Misa was wearing, denoting her position or where they had been in the world, visiting another fly-fishing meeting.

You can visit their blog to see just how much they love the sport.

Oh, and did I mention Misa's amazing art? She's a fine art watercolourist, and guess what she paints? If you guessed tied flies, you're right!

Check out her profile on their site for a glimpse into the karayziest space devoted to, well, a devotion! I love it! click on "Misako added 49 photos"


Hard to believe it's been 2 weeks already. Now in New York,
they're about to film a TV production on fly-fishing in the Catskills for a Japanese network. Way too much fun!
Mark and Misako, I really hope you get out this way again; don't wait so long til next time! It was pure delight.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Aix en Provence, France

The charming and disarming Martine, from Aix en Provence in France, arrived with her handsome son, Paulin.
He was living and working here on the coast, and the two of them were exploring Vancouver Island together. Martine spoke little English, though she easily understood the conversation, and so there was much hand-waving and body language going on, followed by loud bursts of laughter. Paulin played interpreter the whole time, a job he did well and thoroughly!
It was a great pleasure to have both of you here!


Francien & Jan

Another couple who were left off the blog last fall are Francien & Jan, from Amsterdam.
On the day of their arrival, I was a bit concerned to see them arriving (much, much later than they had anticipated) by taxi, with no luggage.
They'd had an accident on a remote highway, and were just coming from the hospital, where they had been examined in the E.R. Luckily, nothing broken; only bruises.
I immediately put on a pot of soup and found a way for Jan to retrieve their luggage from their demolished car, now in the local towing lot.
He returned with a bottle of wine to share with the others staying at the house, and everyone decompressed in the evening. The next day I drove them to the rental office for another car, and they stayed a couple of days.
Jan and Francien are a beautiful couple who run a B&B in Holland, just outside of Amsterdam, a place which is definitely on my "to-do" list!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Dirt is compost. I love compost. Ergo, I love dirt.
no matter -
I sure do love what compost does to the garden.

The first photo is a view from the kitchen door. To the right is the big maple, and just beyond it (slightly downhill) is the compost bin, crowned by the weed bucket used to toss weeds out of the garden.

In the last week, I've hauled about a dozen wheelbarrow loads of compost into the garden and greenhouse, and intend to haul even more.

The compost pile here is to die for! One slatted box about 250 cubic feet, divided in half by a wall of cinder blocks simply stacked up. The box is built into the hill, so the back side is sturdy, plus easy to access from the topside.

The new greens and scraps are tossed into box #1 where the bottom of the pile is already breaking down into the rich stuff. Along with kitchen peelings and veggie scraps are tossed leftover floral arrangements (all from the property), plus leaves and cuttings and weeds.

No meat, no bones, no dairy.

Yes, I do imagine a dead animal will eventually become dirt (as we all will) but I'm not sure it would break down enough into actual "dirt" by next spring. And I don't want to be the one holding the shovel that brings out the bones.... hmmm...

And no plastic!
What industry is making money off of those tiny little labels on every single tomato and pepper in grocery stores is doing remarkably well, I'm sure!
Is there no other way to label the produce?! I'm so annoyed every time I dig into the dirt and come up with another one that someone didn't remove when they peeled their orange.

I really must discuss this further another time.

Anyhoo, end of the fall, and box #1 is flipped into box #2, ensuring the oldest compost (that which is broken down already) will rest on the top, awaiting the spring planting. Meanwhile, the greenest scraps from the top of box #1 are now at the bottom of box #2, breaking down all winter long. Beautiful!

Allow me to relate a small compost story.

As a twenty-something newlywed, I planted my first garden of peas, carrots, and flowers in planter boxes alongside our new deck. With a tiny yard, there was little space to consider having a compost pile, and I wasn't sure what that business was all about anyhow.

At the end of the summer, I took all of the greens from the boxes and simply tossed them into a corner by the fence where some twigs and small branches were. The greens fell over them, and I forgot about them for the winter.
The following spring I was aiming to clean up those branches, and found there a small pile of the richest soil I had ever seen. It wasn't much - maybe a gallon or so - but I had made it!
Well, me and nature... still, it was a beautiful thing.

Man, I love dirt!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring in the Glade

Isn't this an idyllic sight?
The ground is covered in Vinca, a.k.a. Periwinkle, a vine which produces small purple trumpet-like flowers all summer long. Sprinkled throughout are Lily-of-the-Valley, and Bluebells - beautiful spikes of purple for spring - and in the upper part of the ground covering can be seen a lighter green patch of 'false-lily-of-the-valley' (
Maianthemum dilatatum). These are native plants (the others are not) which offer a smaller, unscented white flower, and heart-shaped leaves.

This is the glade, between the house and Highway 28, also known as Campbell River Road.

In 1936, when Rod and Ann Haig-Brown bought this place, Highway 28 was a narrow dirt track that cut through the wide open space of a clearcut - a completely logged off tract of land that went on for miles.

No glades or bush or clumps of trees; only stumps, occasional fruit trees, and the odd house along the river.

In short order, Ann and Rod planted their own fruit trees and vegetables to feed the family, and crops to feed the cows, sheep, and chickens.
They also busily planted other trees, including the beech trees you see in the second picture.

But back to picture #1; notice the shadowy line running across the lower part of the photo, from the tree on the left. That's known as the daffodil walk, also a "folly" - a pathway that simply ends.
Rod planted the daffodils only months before his sudden death, and so never got to see them bloom. His wife and family decided to distribute his ashes amongst his beautiful daffodils, under the canopy of trees that he so lovingly planted forty years before.
Upon Ann's death, her family spread her ashes there as well, so she would rest with her beloved.
And every spring, the daffodils still offer their charming blooms for the rest of us to enjoy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jo & Rodney Daw, Photographer(s)

I must take this space to offer apologies to some of my wonderful guests who stayed last year.
I ask guests if it's OK to take their photo to post on this blog, and almost every single time, they warmly oblige, then seek out what I might have to say about them and their stay via this blog. Last fall, I had several delightful guests (as all of my guests are) tho I did not get to putting their photos on here. For that, I am sorry, and hope to amend my ways - here and in the next couple of posts.

That famous photographer from Turrahna (Toronto) and his funny, talented and gorgeous wife, stayed last fall.

Jo-Anne and Rodney Daw


a couple of the nicest people you could ever meet!

They love fly-fishing (you can tell by their website) and love each other as much and more. It's very nice to see people who interact with such
mutual love and respect.
Thanks, you kidz, for your delightful visit here.

HBH is open for the summer!

Spring-time rainbow over Discovery Passage; pot of gold in Campbell River.

I'm back at the Haig-Brown Heritage House as the Site Manager and your B&B Host for 2010, and I'm very excited to be here.

We've been busy getting things ready for the summer, including freshening up the house and readying the guest rooms. The blueberries are piled up for pancakes, and the garden is getting ready for my famous tiny tomatoes to serve with breakfast.

Marcy, the gardener, has been busy, as always. The terra cotta pots for the terrace (terraza, in Italian) are planted and standing by in the greenhouse, waiting for a bit more warmth in the weather. She's done up the rose bed to perfection, and the formal lawn looks, well, formal!
And good thing, too - we have a lot of weddings booked for the summer!

Today is simply sparkling!
I photographed the narcissus and bluebells in the glade this morning, and found another broken robin's egg in the driveway. The rhodos are spectacular, and the scented azaleas are busting at the seams ready to burst forth with bloom. Daily the maple leaves stretch bigger and bigger; I'm sure I can hear them grow.

It's been a long, wet winter in Campbell River, and May has been a welcome sight with all the sunshine.

My goodness, I love spring on the coast!

Hullo, Sunshine~!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sharon, Kiki & Paul, Gigi and Chris

The very busy summer picked up as the season progressed, and our smiling guests joined us at the HBH.
Here are some of them...

The lovely Sharon, enjoying the weather and grounds, claimed to be refreshed from her stay! It was fun to do some photos in the glade with her. Do come again Sharon!

If you're gonna be a travel writer, you have got to have stamina! Believe me, when I saw Kiki and her photographer husband, Paul, on the go to cover the sights and scenes and delights of their Vancouver Island trip, I was exhausted! Wowee, they were on the go from way before sunup to way after sundown. Finally arriving late in the last evening, they managed to catch a few hours sleep before driving away at 5:00 am to their next destination.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dianna, Mary, Valerie, and the Pussy Willow Plate

I had the pleasure of the company of Valerie Haig-Brown, her sister Mary, and their good friend, Dianna, for tea on a warm and sunny afternoon.

Valerie and Mary had just returned from a week's hike in the mountains of Strathcona Park, an hour's drive from Campbell River.
While the park has a mountain named Haig-Brown, they were hiking elsewhere - this time.

The two sisters, both around 70+ years, are more fit than most people I know and they happily glow with health.
They proceeded to tell me tales of hiking, camping, and having guides who double as the "heavy lifters".

Good to have along, considering Mary broke her collar bone on a previous trip and had to hobble out of the trail after dark, only to overnight at the Strathcona Lodge until someone could deliver her to hospital in the light of day.
Regardless of the 'heavy lifters', I say Brava! girlfriends!
These are resilient women!

Dianna, bless her heart, came by a little later and we brought out the photo albums, plus a small memoir from a lady named Lorraine.
I wrote of Lorraine and her sister Vi in a previous post, about how they just re-discovered each other after over 60 years.
Lorraine was adopted away from her Campbell River birth family at the age of 4 months, when Vi was 4 years old (Mary Haig-Brown, about 10 years old at the time, had wished she could care for the baby).

The memoir was written by Cecil and Rupert Fitzgerald, two brothers growing up in 1915 Campbell River; Cecil was Lorraine's grandfather.
The connection comes full circle yet again: one of Dianna's good friends is Dierdre, another Fitzgerald of whom Lorraine was (of course) unaware. On this warm and sunny afternoon, over tea, they were all brought together in conversation and, a few days later, in person.

I spoke with Lorraine this morning and she breathlessly told me of meeting Dianna and Dierdre and their wonderful time sharing stories, family history, photos, and laughs.
Lorraine always has a smile in her voice, and today was no exception.
She is in touch with her sister Vi every single day, either by email or phone, and they see each other often; there are also plans to spend more time with Dierdre and Dianna.

On another note, there's the Pussy Willow Plate...
Ann Haig-Brown had a particular set of everyday china with Pussy Willows as the pattern. It's less fussy or frilly than most china patterns, something I find quite lovely and charming.

The set here at Haig-Brown House has very few pieces left, and resides on a shelf in the kitchen, apparently close to where Ann kept them in days past.

Here's Valerie with the story of the plate: "Our sister Celie has a cabin along with five others on a small lake in the woods north of Kamloops. When I was there on my way to the coast we visited one of her neighbours one morning. Celie went inside and came out waving the plate with delight. The neighbour man takes great pleasure in feeding the three or four local dogs meals morning and evening (somewhat to the annoyance of their owners). He gives each dog its food on a separate old plate. One of them was the pussy willow plate, so, of course, we rescued it. The man's wife is an "antiquer" and said she would keep an eye out for pussy willow in the future -- there may be more on the way!"

While here, Valerie recounted this tale and, just as dramatically, pulled the plate out of its wrapping upon the story's climax!
So this is the only dinner plate here of that design, and while it's not of the original set from HBH, it will reside close by.

*Note for all you collector types out there: Please don't think the Haig-Brown House or Museum at Campbell River are collecting the set; we are not.
This was a generous act on the part of Valerie (and the dog and its host!) with a humourous bent, and we are all greatly appreciative. I hope our readers understand that we're not hunting the set down; thank you very much for the interest.

Lastly, I'd like to comment on the charm, grace and ease of Valerie, Mary, and Dianna.
Full of high spirits and jocularity, yet relaxed and great listeners, my visit with them was so very enjoyable. And every story was worth hearing!

More Good Company...

The talented and handsome Todd and the beautiful and charming Rena called themselves 'Water Fanatics', drinking a whole lotta the stuff. Healthy, too, they are. On a bit of a getaway, they were here to relax and take some time out to walk the trails and breathe in a whole lotta fresh air, too. It was really nice to have the pleasure of your company, you 2 water babies; do return!

Michael just wanted to fish... take some time and fish... relax and fish...
His high-pressure job (sorry, if I tell you, you'll have to go into the witness protection programme!) not only offers him time off to travel back to his family in New Zealand, and California, and Ontario, but also encourages him to use up his "air-miles", so he dropped in to have a night or two and a spot of fishing. Proof is in the pudding, er, photo. Here's your "Atta Boy!" for the day, Michael!

My current fave model is the wonder woman, Daniela, from Germany. She was on a one-woman mission to experience Canada, and she was doing just that!
During a grizzly bear tour out of Campbell River, she was invited to a Potlatch, for a once in a lifetime experience - and she couldn't go.
No matter what we tried, the timing just did not allow her to change her plans without shelling out hundreds of dollars in booked tours and accommodations down the road. We made calls, pleaded, created 'just-in-case' alternate plans, and she even had a fellow Deutchlander (sp?) come to her aid to help get her to said Potlatch, but to no avail. Uris finally got her to the bus and she had to go on her way. Sad to see you go Danielle; I hope you can come back. Maybe we can find another Potlatch for you to attend.

Someone who did manage to get to the potlatch were the 2 lovely ladies, Karen and Cheryl (sorry I didn't get a photo!) who drove up from Victoria to attend the 2 day affair. The Sewid family raised a new totem pole in Campbell River to honour a family member (I'll find the details to post here very soon).

Haig-Brown Festival

The Haig-Brown Festival, which coincides with World Rivers Day, was held yesterday, September 27, 2009, on the Haig-Brown Heritage Property.

With vendors of food, musicians on the stage, river-rafting tours for swimming with the salmon, book-sellers and book collectors, plus games and attractions for children, there was something for just about everyone.

We had fly tying fellows, and fly tying women, and fly-casting lessons on the formal lawn; salmon were 'printed' on paper and salmon were on posters and cards and informative pamphlets; water flowed down the river and flowed through little demo troughs to show where all that water goes when you flush or wash, and how streamkeepers keep the streams.

Tours were conducted through the study and house, and others toured through the Kingfisher Creek, and the heritage property proper.

People ate cake, and fishburgers; cookies were for sale from the Ann Elmore Women's Transition Centre to the tune of the current wage differences between men ($1.00 per cookie) and women (.75 per cookie).

Children played, and ran, and ate, and tickled fish, and, alas, lost a balloon or 2.

There were readings from Rod's books, and quotes from him to and about Ann, and many words were said about / from /for / because of them. Consequently, tears were shed - joyfully, thoughtfully, sadly, gladly, in memory, and honourably.

There were contests to enter, and awards to be awarded. Many people were honoured for their efforts in Green stewardship, and given the recognition they so heroically deserve.

Thank you all for attending on this grandly gorgeous day, with fall leaves falling and sunny sunshining, and keeping the spirit of the Haig-Browns' aglow. We are all better off for them.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Company We Keep Here

Wolfgang & Rocky

When she first knocked on the door, I suspected a lilt in her conversation which was totally unfamiliar.

No wonder... it was English with an Irish / German tinged tone.
Darling Rocky, this Irish lady, speaks fluent German. Good thing, too.
Her husband, Wolfgang, is Austrian who speaks a little English.
I understood him and we conversed O.K., tho he thought his English language skills were a little shy.
Here's your "Attaboy!" Wolfgang, for doing so well with me.

Matthias & Jana

were traveling from Germany and exploring Vancouver Island.
Both are librarians, tho I've learned such job titles are more flexible than ever.

Each work in differing capacities, though both work electronically with research and library archives, and seem to rarely touch books, let alone 'check' them in or out of a library!
My, my, times are different.
Ann Haig-Brown was the librarian at Campbell River's Senior High School for many years and might not recognize her old position any more... perhaps these two find that funny...


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grape (Bubblegum) Jelly

In the glassed-in porch is a grape vine which was planted around 1944 by Ann and Rod Haig-Brown.

The plant grows in the ground outside, then twists its way through a removed pane of glass, and crawls inside the upper reaches of said porch with a thick, woody arm.

Leaves and tendrils wind around the windows and ceiling, dripping with bunches of deep purple fruit.

This is a Concord variety, called "Campbell's Early".

My research reveals the naivete of North American farmers; because Campbell's Early gets its dark purple colour long before being ripe, it was often picked too soon so lost favour amongst grape growers.

Too bad.

When these ripened, they smelled sooooooo sweet and succulent. I kept wondering who was making Kool-Aid, or where the grape bubble-gum was, because the sweet scent wafted gently through the house, creating many sweet dreams.

And so, dreaming of the very best jelly, I harvested.

Now, you may recall a previous post of mine, re: my jam making skills, or lack thereof (sigh).

I was determined to do right this time, so carefully put together the ingredients, measuring and planning, and scheduling my time.

Apples have much of the required pectin for thickening, so I used Transparent Apples from the orchard here.

I also used some 'natural' pectin from the health food store. I was on my way!

Jars, lids and rings were counted, washed and sterilized, labels created, calculations made, ingredients meted out... I was ready.

Colours and aromas were abundant, and the boiling began.

After the appointed amount of time, I began the "sheet test", upon which the decision is made when the jelly is ready, or thick enough, or jelled sufficiently.

A metal soup spoon is dipped into the boiling fruit then held up to see how the running drops meld together, or whether they even do.
One is waiting for the last 2 drops to run together and hold as a single, large drop, and stay. That is, not drip off the spoon.

How very scientific!

Easy, right?

The appointed amount of time came and went, then came and went again.

Still my spoon was not holding the 'sheeting' action as described, and so I boiled it more!

*note: of course I was using new spoons each time, especially after licking the bubble-gum flavoured jell after each test. Running out of spoons, I began washing them after each test*

Finally, a bit frustrated, I made the decision to jar it up, whether it was thick or not.
This time the spoon was held over the sink instead of the steaming pot of fruit, and the sheet test proved positive!

I had been holding the spoon over the steam, not allowing it to cool a bit to thicken the drops!

Why don't these instructions specify?!

In the end, I made a second batch, which did not jell as well either.

I don't care if it's a bit runny; that makes it more 'spreadable'.

For sure, I will not be entering any jellies into any fall fairs any time soon, tho that's all right; they are tasty and naturally sweet, and still smell like bubble-gum / Kool-Aid. Yum!