Submariners And Sea Monsters, Oh My!

Moving to a new place always comes with a learning curve, so this week I thought I’d share some of the discoveries I’ve made since we arrived here on Vancouver Island.

For example, I’ve recently learned the correct Navy pronunciation for ‘submariner’.  I always thought it was ‘sub-ma-REEN-er’, but a true Navy man pronounces it ‘sub-MARE-in-er’.  (Coincidentally, I also learned some Navy slang for a gay man:  ‘diesel-driven turnip’.  Don’t look at me like that; I don’t have a clue how that expression came to be.  But it made me laugh.)

Speaking of the Navy, I haven’t met a ringer for Aydan’s Uncle Roger yet (in the Never Say Spy series, he was the favourite uncle who taught Aydan her best cusswords); but the other day a Hellhound lookalike roared past me on his Harley with his guitar strapped to his back; and I actually got to meet a real-life Dave Shore:

Paul was one of the truckers who delivered our shipping containers, and watching him finesse an 80’ tractor-trailer into our tiny driveway off our narrow road was education and entertainment combined.  I just stood there with my jaw dangling while he eased those big tires perilously close to the ditch, sometimes hovering a couple of trailer wheels over empty space.  Then he used a brilliant technique to squeeze into the driveway:  he locked up the trailer brakes while he continued to reverse the tractor, pivoting the 53’ trailer neatly around the 90-degree corner and into our yard.  Wow!

Talking to him was like gabbing with my fictional Dave:  He’s got 700,000 kilometres on his current rig, which is the third his current employer has issued him.  As he explained, “I keep miling them out.”  (Translation:  Driving so many miles that the truck has to be replaced, usually at 1,000,000 km.)  He’d rather sleep in his truck than in a hotel, and when asked about his retirement plans in a few years, he admitted, “I’m going to get an RV and drive around visiting my kids.  I just like to drive.”  It’s very cool to know there are real-life ‘Daves’ out there!

Marine life has been another novelty for me; some of it beautiful and fascinating…

Starfish come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours from white to orange/red to blue/purple, and they have the ability to go from soft to rigid in mere seconds if you touch them. (Guys, did you get that?)

Starfish come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours from white to orange/red to blue/purple, and they have the ability to go from soft to rigid in mere seconds if you touch them. (Guys, did you get that?)

…and some of it quite horrifying:

I have no idea what creature wore this head before I found it bobbing gently in the surf. It was nearly ten inches across and it looked like some hideous sea monster, although although it's probably a mundane fish to a true West-Coaster. But I’m going with ‘sea monster’.

I have no idea what creature wore this head before I found it bobbing gently in the surf. It was nearly ten inches across and it looked like some hideous sea monster, although it’s probably a mundane fish to a true West-Coaster. But I’m going with ‘sea monster’.

I’ve seen misty sunrises:



Serene moonrises:



Dramatic nighttime cloudscapes:



Rainbows after a storm:



And harbour seals playing.  (I was too far away so they only look like black blobs splashing around, but you get the idea): 

…And we’ve only been here a month.  I can hardly wait to see the strange and wonderful things the Island has left to show us!

But here’s the best photo yet:  They broke ground for our house on Monday!  Hooray!  (Speaking of finesse and expertise, Sam the excavator operator is an artist.  His touch with that bucket is so delicate and precise you forget that he’s moving literally tons of earth at mind-boggling speed.  Apparently he began operating a small excavator when he was 8 years old.)

It might not be as scenic as the rest of the photos, but this one makes me very happy!

It might not be as scenic as the rest of the photos, but this one makes me very happy!

What’s new in your world this week?  And… does anybody know what that sea-monster-critter actually is?  (Or, more accurately, ‘was’?)

50 thoughts on “Submariners And Sea Monsters, Oh My!

  1. Wow breaking ground already! Never woulda happened out in Cowtown (or anywhere prairie-ish) in Jan! Things are happening… yay! (Insert apropo emoji here).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Until I saw the foundation dug out, I couldn’t quite believe it was really going to happen! Of course, now there’s 14″ of snow on it so it’ll be a while before they can get back to it, but I still have hope! 🙂


  2. I’m getting a thrill of anticipation just seeing your digging crew starting to go at it, so I can just imagine how you feel! And your scenery! Just beautiful. We are relatively close to the Atlantic coast (about a half hour drive) but it’s not something we see out our windows. Just think how nice it will be in the other three seasons if it’s that nice in the winter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can hardly wait until the weather turns nice! We’ve arrived during one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record – we just had 14″ of snow yesterday and it’s predicted to snow all week. Everything is white except the ocean, so we’re very glad to be able to look out at it and pretend that white stuff is just fluffy sand. We’ll miss the ocean when we move inland to our new place, but at least it’ll only be 15 minutes away.

      Despite the snow, we went to a gardening convention yesterday so we’re stoked up with seed catalogues and big dreams! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just to let you know, I made your ginger cookie recipe today. Deeeelicious. Couldn’t find any ground cloves so just skipped that bit. They came out crunchie on the outside, chewy on the inside (and NO smart remarks).
    When I was putting the little balls of sugared dough on the tray, I thought, They look like road apples on a frosty morning.

    Liked by 1 person

      • First batch disappeared in a hurry. Just made a second batch and will take 2 dz. to English club this afternoon. A small group of ESL speakers of all ages get together for an hour with an English teacher to practice English. I am an honourary member and don’t pay dues, so I am bringing cookies.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m sure you’ll be even more popular than usual! It’s great that there are groups like that – on my ‘to-do-someday’ list is to find a French conversation group and brush up. I can read French passably well, but my writing and speaking skills are sketchy and I’m utterly incapable of understanding it when it’s spoken to me – I catch a word here and there, and that’s it. One of these days… when I run out of other things to do… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  4. You would want to leave snowy Calgary for that coastal bliss? Oh my it looks so gorgeous there. Wonderful to see the house beginning. As to the parking of storage trailers I do believe I would have had a cardiac arrest!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I almost did have a cardiac arrest. I kept envisioning the whole thing toppling off into the ditch, landing upside-down and destroying all our worldly goods. (That probably wouldn’t have done Paul or his truck much good, either.) Needless to say I was immensely relieved when everything was safely on the ground!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The ugly fish reminds me of what we used to call an oyster cracker on the other coast. Probably not exactly the same, thought. Now I’ll remember the Coleridge poem as the Rime of the Ancient Ma-REEN-er.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! When I looked up the pronunciation on the internet I discovered a hornet’s nest of controversy. Half of the respondents scoffed at ‘sub-mar-EEN-er’ because they argued it should be pronounced as ‘mariner’ with ‘sub’ in front of it; and an equally vocal contingent argued that ‘sub-MARE-in-er’ was a slur because it implied that submariners were inferior (‘sub’) to true mariners.

      If you look at it that way, though, ‘sub-mar-EEN-er’ isn’t much better because it implies that they’re inferior to Marines; which I’m sure would please the Marines if not the submariners. And one Navy smartass pointed out that he’d easily solved the controversy by simply referring to submariners as ‘bubbleheads’. Definitely a slur, but at least he offended both sides equally.

      Personally, I’ve decided to go with ‘those guys who operate submarines’ and leave it at that. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I never considered myself to be a particularly good driver, especially in reverse, but in a pinch, I regularly surprised myself. While driving school buses I usually drove special ed vehicles because it paid better, and the vehicles were much smaller. Sometimes we drove short buses that were a hodgepodge of horribly designed vehicles every one cofigured differently, yet each one very uncomfortable with horrifying blind spots and far more rickety than the 72 passenger fleet. But I’d do after school activity bus driver and charter trip driver in the full size buses. One charter I snagged one summer was to pick up some youngsters who were at a scout camp a few hours north out in farmlands and wooded undeveloped wilderness areas of the state and bring them back to their school in the suburbs of Minneapolis. My dispatcher gave me a map and written directions with directions like exit the freeway and go west on county road 38 for 17 miles then go north on township road B for 8 miles, then turn west on county road F for 4.7 miles and turn right up the unmarked driveway into the camp at the edge of the tree line. I followed the instructions and made note of the odometer as needed. I went that last 4.7 miles and came to an unpaved driveway that was very narrow, but with newly applied crushed rock. The driveway went straight for a few hundred feet then turned a corner and up ahead was a tree limb crossing the driveway so low that no school bus had ever traveled under it. I got out of the bus to take a look at where the bus tires were in relation to the driveway. The drive was tilted and as I got out, the service door slammed shut so hard it locked. By that time the homeowner came down to see who was trespassing. I apologized for getting so far before realizing I was on private property and she told me where the camp was from her property (one driveway back) so all I had to worry about was how to get back into the bus and back up around the curve on the narrow drive without putting the bus into the deep ditches on either side of the driveway. I was wearing a dress and the deck of the emergency door was almost chest high and I’m very short and not strong in my arms. Somehow I pulled myself up on the first try and backed out slowly, but flawlessly back to the road, and found the correct driveway and had no further problems getting my group to their destination. I’ve also had almost no experience driving trailers, yet when I had to reverse to park once I managed to park my trailer and bus like I’d done it thousands of times.
    I managed to reverse like your hero but I’m sure it was more luck than skill on my part, but I agree that watching a really skilled driver or equipment operator is a thrill. I wonder if they are worried or certain that they’ve “got it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the gorgeous photos of the beauty and wonder that surrounds you in your new home environment. It looks like your new house has a mountain for you to enjoy at all different times of day and weather conditions. You poor dears will suffer SO. ;=) I’m so glad you are in a position to change locations while you are old (or wealthy) enough to afford to do so and young enough to really able enjoy it to the max.
    It looks like a pretty big area that they are digging for your foundation. I thought you were having a huge garage with a modest house. Don’t tell me that the garage has footings that deep? Are you planning a full basement for the house? I know different areas of the world do home construction very differently. One of my sisters lives near Melbourne, Australia where the water and sewer lines are run on the exterior of the house and the hot water heater is stationed outside in the back of the house. Unthinkable to a person from Minnesota to realize that in some places there is a zero chance of the pipes ever freezing so why not keep the water heater and lines outdoors? Most homes in Minnesota have at least a partial basement that houses hot water heater, furnace and other utility appliances. Neither of my siblings who live in California and Oregon have homes with basements-nor do they do basements in Melbourne. I’m guessing that people don’t do basements in the temperate areas of the Canadian Pacific region. We in MN appreciate the extra storage space and a safe place to take shelter during the bad thunderstorms and tornadoes. What natural disasters worry people there? Earthquakes? Tsunamis? Please excuse my curiosity, I find the differences interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, we’re suffering terribly! (Not.) 😉

      The excavation is deceiving because they have to dig down deeply enough to hit solid undisturbed ground for the perimeter footings. That part of our site is gravelly, and we’re having a 4′ crawl space under the house, so it does look like a deep excavation. The floor plate of the modular home is about 1500 square feet and the garage and workshop combined are 2400 square feet, so it’s not a tiny house but it’ll be dwarfed by the garage and workshop!

      I’m so glad to be out of tornado territory! Apparently they had a tornado here on the Island once… in 1955. So it can happen, but it’s not much of a worry. Earthquakes are a bigger threat – the Island sits on the same earthquake/volcano belt as California. Apparently there have been 4 earthquakes in the past couple of days but we haven’t felt anything. Up in the middle of the island we’re in a slightly lower risk zone than the southern part around Victoria, but there is significant seismic movement, and they’re predicting an uptick this month:

      As they say in the article, though, people don’t really worry about ‘the Big One’ – like driving, you know there’s significant risk but probabilities vary. Our new house is designed to conform to the latest earthquake codes, so that’s the best we can do.

      Tsunamis are a possibility in some parts of the Island but the central part is sheltered by nearby islands so although a tsunami is possible it’s not likely to be devastating. Once we’re in our new place, we’ll be far enough inland and uphill that we won’t need to worry about tsunamis.

      Frost here is considered “surface” so pipes only need to be buried 18″ to 24″ below ground. This year is unusually cold, though, and the ground at our place is frozen about 4″ down. We’ll go a little deeper with our pipes… just in case!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been on the island for 18 months now and Mother
    Nature surprises me all the time. You have sooo much to look forward to! We are so lucky to live in paradise. My favourite time of year is the fall, but I love misty rainy days. We live in a such magnificent place. I’m excited for you to experience it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy to be here! I’ve been coming to the Island for a few days in the winter for the past 20 years or so, but I’ve never been here for longer than a week. This feels like an extended vacation, and I keep having little thrills of joy every time I automatically think, “I’ll have to go home soon” and then remember that this is home now!

      We’re quite familiar with the lower half of the island, but we’ve never been up past Mount Washington so we’re eager to explore! Now that the first upheaval of our move is subsiding, I’m pushing hard on Book 12. When it’s finished we’ll hit the road for some new adventures. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true! The place we’re renting has a beautiful view, but it’s VERY small. We haven’t killed each other yet, but it’s only been 5 weeks. 😉

      The modular home supplier is still promising us occupancy by the end of March, but I think April is probably more realistic. Time will tell…

      Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Yeah, I prefer to look at the ocean from the dry side. I don’t even have any particular desire to go out in a boat because I get motion-sick really easily. I can’t imagine that bobbing up and down would improve that in any way.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Re the starfish maybe Pixar aren’t too far off the mark with a hot pink starfish in finding nemo/ finding doree gotta love that film.

    What new not much same old same old really.

    Its mild here, bit windy but OK most days its a tepid 5-6 degrees C

    Love the pics glad thins are finally happening for you with the build.

    I also love the idea that although fictional we have real life Dave’s, Hellhound’s and other characters out there. Who knows maybe one day I’ll find a hellhound of my very own.

    Ooooo I found out one of my fellow home age ts at work has written a book, says on the lines of 50 shades but totally different.
    So I’m off to Kindle to see if I can find it

    Hugs all

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations! You found Jimmy Hoffa! 🙂

    And congratulations on the groundbreaking! Gad, that’s wonderful! And the photographs! Yep, purest confirmation that you done good. Congratulations again, sista, and welcome home. (The house part of home will come next, but it’s still home. Well, you know what I mean.)

    What’s new here? We’ve got about a week of mild, sunny weather going on. Calm winds, warm sun, temps around 70F. Very nice.

    And completely out of character for the first of February. But enjoying this weather is a fine way to wait for the other shoe to drop…


    • Your weather sounds wonderful, and you’re right – best to enjoy it while it lasts. 🙂

      You’re also right about us being ‘home’. Every day I wake up with a shiver of pure happiness when I realize where I am, and I spend the day greedily absorbing all the amazing scenery. The people are very welcoming and friendly, too. I have to keep reminding myself that this is where I live now – I don’t ever have to leave!

      Today we have a clear blue sky and sunshine (also completely out of character for the first February). It’s only a few degrees above 0C so the locals are complaining bitterly, but we think it’s heaven!

      Liked by 1 person

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