Max was happy to have an interlude at home.  He was particularly glad to see Edna and be reunited with Brandy, although both dogs seemed a little shy at first. Max wagged his tail rather tentatively, probably remembering how standoffish Brandy had been when he had gone away the previous year. For most of the walk, they trotted along, parallel and harmonious, if not interactive. However, on the way back, Max challenged Brandy to a frolic, and after a moment’s hesitation, she started to play with him.

Happy to see Brandy againl
Happy to see Brandy againl

The interlude at home was supposed to be brief, as we were intending to leave again to visit our friends, Josie and Dennis, on Saltspring Island. However, our best laid plans promptly ‘Gang aft agley’ since I came down with a bad infection and Max trod on something and developed an inflamed foot. Poor Hugh had to get up and make his own tea on his birthday, since I was laid up in bed. However, the girls came to the rescue, brought him his presents and made him breakfast.

Chris O'Connor and Isabel Mendenhall in Shadow of Murder - Photo by Doug Goodwin
Chris O’Connor and Isabel Mendenhall in Shadow of Murder – Photo by Doug Goodwin

I was completely out of it for the rest of the day.  I dozed and dreamed. I couldn’t focus on reading.  I couldn’t do the crossword.  Drugs and the fever completely froze my brain. Still, to quote another common saying: It’s an ill wind that blows no-one any good. In my befuddled state, I let my eyes wander to the classified ads where I saw a heading:  Mary Poppins, Where are you?  It was an ad for a nanny, but it gave me the beginnings of an idea for a story. I thought of possible sinister connotations and filed the item away in my notes, after which I gave up and let the fever run its course.  Years later, I came across the note again, and ultimately, the idea became a story of that name in my book, The Beacon. Later still, I rewrote it as a play titled Shadow of Murder which was produced in 2011

On the Optimist

As Max and I struggled along, both on antibiotics, Hugh decided we had recovered sufficiently that we could embark on the next trip. This involved Hugh cruising across to Saltspring in the Optimist, while Caroline, Katie, Max and I brought the motorhome and came over by ferry. This was not the greatest plan, as once I had driven Hugh to Ioco and seen him off, I was left to cope with the chaos of packing and getting the girls organized. Since I was still sick, Max was still sore and cranky, and Katie promptly came down with a fever too (all of which was complicated by a mass of phone calls and unexpected and unwanted visitors), by the evening I felt like jumping off a cliff.  Instead, optimistically, I set my watch for six and went to bed in the hope that sleep would make it all seem better.

Ferry to the Island

The next morning was hectic. I leaped out of bed when the alarm went off, raced about loading the camper, putting out garbage, setting timers, rousing and feeding girls, and medicating Max. We managed to leave by seven-fifteen, stopping briefly at the Derby woods so Max could have a bit of a trot; then we headed for the ferry.  The traffic was dreadful getting out of New Westminster, and then, when we arrived at the ferry, an accident had occurred on board, and we had to sit in scorching heat for a solid hour due the accident that had ground everything to a halt mid-operation.  By this time the camper was so hot that I had to stay below with Max for the ferry trip to keep everything open and aired out.  The ferry sped and made up some time, but it was still almost a three-hour trip. Needless to say, I had a blazing headache when we got to Saltspring, poor Kate felt rotten too, and Max was glowering like the Big Bad Wolf.

Camping on Saltspring 2
Their own ‘little house’.

But how the beauty of Saltspring and the prospect of rest worked its magic once we were there. We rolled into Dennis and Josie’s property and found Hugh waiting, along with Dennis and his two dogs. We sat in the shade of the garden and gradually the day improved. Max was hilarious when he saw that he was the guest of two older lady dogs. Bobo and Sally were very dictatorial with him and he was suitably abject in their presence. He bowed and scraped and longed for their approval. So much for the Alpha male with an attitude!

Saltspring 3
Walking with Bobo and Sally.

Once we’d recovered, we cleaned out Dennis and Josie’s small trailer which they used as a guest house. Once done, the girls had their own ‘little house’, and by the end of the afternoon, it was sparkling and habitable. Kate even had her Dalmatian quilt and Mr. Edward tucked on her bed.  Definitely not a ‘pigloo’ and we cautioned them that it should stay that way. Then we all went out to dinner at a seafood restaurant on the water. A heavenly end to a hellish day, and we didn’t even have to worry about Max, because he had Bobo and Sally to keep him company.  Saltspring promised to be yet another ‘dog’s life deluxe’ for our lucky hound.

Episode Forty-five: Dog’s life deluxe – Island style.