Toby had sat with us for a bit at dinner the night before, and mentioned he'd been reading my and Louise's blogs about our week -- and invited us to contributed something to The Haven's Shen blog, if we felt so inclined. Ah, then Shen blog -- they posted an article of mine the last time we were here. That was just after the Big Ethyl incident, when I was relieved to be healthy and cancer-free. And now here we are again, but Don does have cancer, and our return home will begin the count-down to his surgery. Another thing I'd rather not have to deal with right now. Could we please go back to the singing and writing and holding hands with people we love?
Ah, but it's these times and these connections that help us deal with those difficult things, isn't it? We don't get our strength by staying in bed and refusing to face the world...
I get out of bed. But I don't like it. :-)
The Haven has anticipated my mood by making STUFFED French toast for breakfast. Yes, stuffed. With strawberries and cream cheese. This day might work out alright, after all... Jack is refusing to meet my gaze, and turns his back as I walk past. Sigh...
After breakfast, I head up to the room to shower and pack. We load up the car and check out of the room, and then I set up my portable office on the sun porch again. There's quite a breeze coming off the water today, the salt air scolding me for checking out so soon.
Lunch. Roasted veggie sandwiches with melted cheese and pickle. Delicious again. Don heads down to his favourite bench to play guitar to Sammy and the geese one last time, as I finish up some last typing. I look down again and see two hats on the bench -- Ahmad has joined him, and the two are in animated conversation. I almost don't want to interrupt, but we do have a ferry to catch... I wander down and join them. Goodbye sea, goodbye rocks, goodbye Ahmad, goodbye Haven.
Leaving home, even a temporary one, is difficult for me. You never really know if you'll see either the people or the place again.
Thank you rocks. Thank you sea. Thank you trees. Thank you beasties. Thank you Haven. Thank you friends. We'll be back. If we have any say in the matter, we'll be back.
We make the drive to the ferry, and are surprised to find the line is very short. It ends up being only half-full when we get on.
With several hours to kill before we have to check in for our Nanimo gig, we decide to head down the highway to check out the town of Cedar, which Graemme recommended. Sorry, Cedar, you just don't do it for us -- if we're going to leave Ontario, it won't be for a place that looks just like Ontario. Plus it seems way too isolated, as well, since part of my yearning is to have more high-quality musicians to connect with, and push me forward. We agree that if the move is ever going to be made, it's Victoria or bust. Typical us, going for the more expensive option... oh well, at least we aren't in love with Vancouver!
Cedar was closer than expected, so we still have several hours to kill. We head to one of the Nanaimo Starbucks. Not only does the mighty Bucks always have great coffee, they've got free wireless, and never make you feel like you've overstayed your welcome. (In fact, Sandra, our host in Victoria, often holds meetings in a nearby Starbucks with its own board room which can be used for free!) My portable office, minus sea breeze or sea lion, is set up once more, and we sip away on the first grande bolds we've had in days. :-)
We grab some sandwiches to take and munch before our gig, then head to the Red Willow Coffee House. We had driven there from the ferry, to make sure we knew where it was, but somehow we get completely turned around and have to double back. So much for being extra early...
We meet Charlie, our host, outside the church. Ruth is also there, setting up the refreshments. We don't really need to worry about the sound system, as the room is small, and there's a great omni mic set up centre stage, which should pick us up as much as necessary. We'd be playing around 9:00-ish, as there's an open stage that starts at 7:00. The church has a beautiful picture window overlooking the water -- we have no idea who listens to the sermon on Sunday mornings. :-)
It felt kind of like song circle at home -- each open stage act got 3 songs, with Charlie MC-ing. He began the night, and then about 5 acts performed. Very community-oriented, inclusive feel to the whole night. Charlie is quite the interesting man -- at 76, he recently completed a cross-Canada bicycle trip, putting us all to shame. He's been a Lutheran minister, headed up a friendship centre, worked as an accountant... he's done it all.
A quick break for refreshments, and then it was our turn to do a 1-hour set. We were very well received, including one young guy who had come out to the coffee house for the first time, had a rock band background, and hadn't known what to expect -- he was totally excited, took our card, and vowed to return. We also got an invite to play a house concert venue the next time we're out this way. Life is good. :-)
We followed Charlie and Ruth back down the highway to Charlie's house in Ladysmith, where we were staying for the night. We were offered some single malt from Speyside -- who are we to say no? Ruth said goodnight, and left the three of us to the Scotch. Four, really, if you count Andre, the long-haired Dachshund, who alternately growled at us and asked for ear rubs.
Charlie has incredibly eclectic musical tastes -- from Bach to Ella to Leahy to Lady Gaga -- is obviously a patron of visual art as well, with many paintings and photos covering the walls, and he walked us through many of them. Then he picked out a DVD of the Calgary Ballet presenting "The Fiddle and Drum", a multi-media ballet by Joni Mitchell. We'd never heard of it, but watched in awe -- we'll definitely have to get a copy when we get home! We chatted some more, and then realized it was after 1am -- better nap!
We said goodnight to Charlie and Andre, and headed up to our room, sleeping soundly.