Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Glorious (except when we aren't) in Gabriola

Tuesday morning, we opted for sleeping in over the free breakfast.  Much needed, and much appreciated!  As was the shower -- probably more appreciated by the general public, but still very enjoyable.

We were down to the wire for the 11:00 check-out, but squeaked by.   :-)  I made a point of mentioning to the woman at the front desk how much we appreciated our room having REAL glasses and REAL coffee mugs, instead of the plastic cups individually wrapped in plastic and covered with plastic for good luck, which we had seen in every motel up until then.  Good thing we brought our sippy cups!

As previously mentioned, there was a Starbucks just around the corner, so we brought our laptops and camped out at one of the tables for a long, leisurely breakfast.  I have received an e-mail from someone who shall remain nameless, but might have given birth to me several decades ago, chastising us for patronizing "the Yankee Imperialists" instead of frequenting the many Tim Horton's scattered across this country.   Lest any of you be thinking such things under your breath, I must point out that Tim Horton's is now owned by the same folks as Wendy's in the United States, so are no longer a Canadian company, other than the name.   Also, having done our due diligence and read up on various independent consumer reports, the environmental friendliness of Starbucks, while not perfect, is heads over tails superior to that of the chain named after the hockey player.  The one named after a literary classic also has a far better record on using fair trade beans and ensuring that the coffee comes from plantations that treat their workers and their surroundings well.

That and their coffee just rocks.  :-)

OK, lecture over.

Dinah, fortunately, had warned us that the ferry to Gabriola was not using the same dock we had used before.   Apparently a very large truck had missed a turn and fallen off the gangplank a few weeks ago, doing a lot of damage in the process! (oops...)   So we had to go south of town to the Duke Point terminal instead of the downtown one we were expecting.  We had also been warned that there could often be a very long wait for the ferries in summer time, so we figured we'd line up for the 2:30 ferry early, and then if we weren't allowed on that one, we'd still be able to make the 3:45 and get to Dinah's in plenty of time.

Well, as it turns out, the drive to Duke Point was quicker than expected, AND the 1:15 ferry was running a bit late, so we made it on to an only half-full ferry, and got to the island well before 2:00.  Knowing that Dinah and Trev were doing the panic-cleaning (as house concert hosts ourselves, we know the routine!), we didn't want to show up unannounced, so decided to toodle around the island.

We drove around the north end, where every second house seemed to be for sale.  And beautiful.   And on the water.  Oh my...  Saw a little information office, where we picked up a map, and casually asked if there were any real estate papers... you know, just in case we had friends... not for us... nope... nosiree.  She laughed and said no, but there was a really big real estate office in the village that would have listings for the entire island.  Oh, uh... ok... good to know... you know, in case we had friends...   A bit more of a drive around and -- lo and behold -- we found ourselves in the village.  How did that happen?

We casually looked at the listings on the outside window -- oh... my... god... -- and then the grinning receptionist asked us if we'd like to meet Emily.   Drat, busted...  So we chatted with Emily for a while, and she gave us a big folder of properties to look at, and told us to call or come in any time.

I haven't dared look just yet.

She also mentioned they only get snow about four hours a year (for me).  And the ski hill is less than two hours away (for Don).

We still had some time to kill, so decided to head to the "Raspberry Jazz Cafe" for a cuppa.   As we walked in the door, who do we see sitting at the table but Tim Harrison -- a recent "immigrant" to Gabriola, and was one of the first folkies I ever played with, back in the 90s when we were recording his album "Bridges", and touring around.  (He also introduced me to my thank-dog-he's-ex-husband, but I forgave him for that long ago...)   It was funny, because just a few minutes before that, we had been wondering what part of the island he lived on -- apparently, the part with the coffee shop.   :-)  As we sat and chatted and drank coffee, several other musical folks flitted in and out. Gabriola seems to be home to many musicians!  Hmm...  Tim even has a friend trying to sell a cello bow, so he said he'd send him my way when we're back next week, because how many people in the area need a new cello bow?   (I probably don't, either, but it's worth a look!)

We figured the panic-cleaning was probably drawing to a close -- or at least enough that they wouldn't be embarrassed to have newcomers see the place -- and headed down to the south of the island (Degnen Bay) to meet our host, Dinah, her boyfriend Trev, a whole lot of chickens, and cat (who didn't show her face until everyone else had left after the concert).  We knew which driveway was theirs, because of a colourfully-painted "House Concert Tonight" sign and balloons.  Down a long windy driveway, past the chicken pen, past the house for the baby chicks, and up to the house, with the "musicians use back door" sign humorously displayed.  The first door you open takes you into a stone-cobbled greenhouse, then another door takes you inside.

Walking inside I gasped, and exclaimed I could never get any work done if I lived there -- the view was just too breathtaking.  A big picture window looking onto the deck which looks onto the rocks which look onto Degnen Bay.   Wow.  Dinah and Trev laughed and reminded us they were just panic-cleaning. :-)  So I guess the awe doesn't wear off after living there a few years...

Dinah has made the place her own, with whimsical paintings on cupboard doors, etc., tons of instruments everywhere, of course, and Trev's hats.  No, he doesn't have a hat fetish (or maybe he does, but just isn't saying), but he's a professional clown, "Clever Trever", and one of his specialties is juggling top hats.  Dinah D. is a bass player, who does a lot of swingband music and solo crooning, but is also 1/2 the leadership of kids' band "The Kerplunks" -- the other half being Tina Jones, who we'd met at The Haven in February, and who hooked us up with Dinah in the first place.

We chatted a bit, were shown our room for the night, and got our gear set up in the living room.  Then we headed off with Dinah to nearby Silva Bay for a bit of dinner, leaving Trev to finish baking cookies.   It was a gorgeous day, so we opted to sit on the patio, overlooking the docks, with a beautiful flower garden.   There was much delicious food to choose from, and all the seafood on the menu is certified ocean-friendly -- yippeee!  Don had the ginger beef bowl -- which smelled incredible! -- Dinah had the chowder with yam fries, and I opted for a crab, shrimp and avocado salad with candied hazelnuts and all sorts of yummy goodness (no, I don't think that was the official menu description, but it should have been!).

Feeling gloriously satisfied -- but not too full to perform -- we headed back to the house, to have a wee visit with the chicks, and then to get ready for the crowd, who we were warned often showed up early.  But they must have learned from previous attempts, because nobody showed up before the 7:30 "doors open" time, so we could warm up a bit.  We were ever so happy to see Tina arrive, with her partner Penny, their niece (for whom they are now full-time guardians) and another young friend -- who shared the front couch with another adult friend and her son John.  It was, indeed, a big, cosy couch!

There were about 30-35 people in the audience, plus us and our hosts.  Pretty much everyone was new to us, of course, other than Tina and Penny Sidor, so the others must have just taken Tina at her word that we were worth seeing -- which is kind of funny, since she had never seen us perform as a duo, either!

Fortunately, those who were in attendance also had a sense of humour, as Don inserted some... er... interesting chords into our first number, "A Good Day", which we can usually play in our sleep.  Aha, this is what happens when you spend four days driving and no days practising!  Nevermind, we got back on track and they were very forgiving.

Seems pretty much everyone there was "from away", with many from Ontario.  We mentioned having looked in the real estate office, and they all laughed and said that’s how it starts... the rest of the evening was spent trying to resist their encouragement to move here.

And, strangely enough, after playing all over Ontario and having nobody know where Cannington, the town I lived in for five years, is, there were AT LEAST four people on Gabriola Island who knew the town well.  Yes, folks, I had to drive seven days to find people who know where Cannington is.

We got mid-way through the second set when I dragged out Scarlett (my accordion, for the uninitiated) for "My Love Shall Be Revealed".   All was going beautifully... until the instrumental break.   I have never played so many so very bad notes... and chords...  It descended into a rocking zydeco-fusion solo that shall never be repeated.  The pause before the fourth verse was much longer than usual, as I tried to stop laughing so hard I couldn't sing...  ahem, composure, yes, there we go.  Of course, just as I was finishing the never-to-be-repeated accordion solo, in walks Tim -- I couldn’t see the expression on his face, but he didn’t run away screaming, so all was well. :-)

We survived the rest of the first set relatively unscathed, then it was time for the break -- chai tea and shortbread cookies, mm-mmm!  Had a nice visit with old friends and new, and then it was time for the second set -- which we managed to not completely massacre. :-)

After everyone had gone home and Merlin had finally made her appearance, the four of us sat at the kitchen table to share a nice bottle of wine and some more chatting, and Trev prepared the sourdough for the morning.

We shall leave you hanging with that tempting mystery and tell you all about today later!

Musically -- except when I'm not...

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