All posts by Catherine Wiggins

Selfless Service and Silence | A Volunteer Experience

Cortes Sunrise, Hollyhock 2013. Photograph by Catherine Wiggins

Memories of my four week Volunteer experience immediately bring me to a sense of calm and contentment. That is the gift of Hollyhock, and what a gift it was for me to spend four weeks on the spectacular island of Cortes in Beautiful British Columbia.

British Columbia is my home. I have spent many happy hours on the island of Quadra, which sits to the west of Cortes Island at the mouth of the Johnstone Straight. Until 2013 Hollyhock was a mystical centre in my imagination only which all changed when I arrived at the parking lot on a wet October 8, reporting for duty as a volunteer. I had met a handful of fellow volunteers at the ferry terminal on Quadra Island, forming friendships that would become invaluable throughout our stay on Hollyhock and beyond.

Continue reading Selfless Service and Silence | A Volunteer Experience

My Hollyhock Catalogue arrived!



As I left my house to start my day I stopped at the mailbox to collect my mail.  Amongst the routine brown and manilla envelopes was a brochure, a purple page with a sharp white banner ‘HOLLYHOCK’.  I smiled with joy, my Hollyhock Brochure had arrived, brightly colouring the collection of letters received.

Surprisingly, I chose to slip the brochure in to my bag.  I didn’t want to look at it briefly.  I wanted to savour every page, and that would have to wait until the evening.  I promised myself that I would make some tea and sit in front of the fire that very evening to enjoy the experience.  That is how I turned the pages of the 2015 catalogue, comfortably and relaxed in my living room.

First I read the welcome from Dana and Joel Solomon, CEO and Board Chair.  I browsed each page, enjoying the moments of familiarity – the staff, the gardens, the buildings.  Memories of my time as a volunteer in 2013 filled my mind as I recognized returning Program Leaders and events.  I reached the end of the catalogue, and then started again.  This time my focus was more deliberate.  What was happening in my home town of Vancouver?  If I had to pick  one program on Cortes, which would it be?  I moved between the pages, backwards and forwards, building a mental list of courses that I wanted to take, and spending an imaginary budget on programs and accommodation.  I envied the volunteers of 2015 who will attend Cortes for 6 weeks to help run the facility.  My own trip was four weeks and it wasn’t long enough.  How could I go back again and take programs and volunteer!??

I am convinced that I would not have experienced quite the same joy in researching the catalogue online.  The touch of the paper, the photographs, the living room, the tea.  I am grateful for the catalogue  being delivered to me and brightening my day, just like any trip to Hollyhock brightens a person’s day.

Which program will you take?   Hollyhock Programs 2015

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)

Photograph by Flickr, Creative Commons, jeffreyw

Shrove Tuesday will be celebrated around the world on Tuesday 17 February, 2015.  Our thoughts move towards Lent, commencing Ash Wednesday, and whether we will give up an item for 47 days and nights.  Lent represents the fasting season, and by tradition households would use up rich staples such as sugar, eggs and milk ahead of the fast.  And so we have Pancake Day, celebrated in the UK, Australia and parts of Canada born from the desire to use up goods in the pantry.

In my home town in England, Pancake Day was the only day of the year where my Dad would take over the kitchen and prepare the pancakes.  For us children it was such a treat to have Pancakes for dinner.  Not a vegetable or gravy in sight.  Dad made a special sauce for the pancakes using the juice of one orange and one lemon, butter, lemon and orange rind, sultanas and treacle.  (Treacle is a sugar-based syrup, rich in flavour and texture, that will enhance any sweet treat. )  We eagerly awaited the tossing of the pancake in the pan.  Would they really stick to the ceiling if thrown too high?  Would he catch them?  Dad had the batter and butter combination figured out and he rarely had one stick or break.

The pancakes were served thin. We sprinkled them with sugar, rolled them up like sleeping bags, and poured the syrup over top.  We mopped up the sweet sauce with bites of the absorbent wraps.  Delicate, sweet and warm, the treats melted in our mouths.  We patiently awaited second helpings, with the chef only able to produce one pancake at a time.  The whole event was a labour of love.  Dad loved to cook the pancakes and we loved to eat them.  I am sure that Mum loved a night off from cooking too.

Pancake Day remains a strong tradition, celebrating its historical past and community.  While we may not clear our pantries of rich items today, we can still enjoy a break from our routine meals, and create our own traditions.  Villages and towns host Pancake Day races, families come together to enjoy the food.

How will you mark Shrove Tuesday, and what are you giving up for Lent?


A Classic with a Citrus Twist

Photograph by Catherine Wiggins

A trip to my home country of England is always bettered by a slice of my Mum’s Victoria Sponge Cake.  Mum is a fabulous cook, and her pies and cakes are a local legend.  The Victoria Sponge Cake was named after Queen Victoria, who was said to enjoy a slice with her afternoon tea.

The Classic Sponge Cake sees two rounds of cake layered with whipped cream and raspberry jam.  The cake is also known as a Victoria Sandwich.  In North America we may call it a Pound Cake.  The simple sponge, laced with buttery undertones and boosted with extract of vanilla, is a light and lovely treat.

As we head in to the Holiday Season, I decided to stay away from the fruits and heavy molasses cakes, and made a Victoria Sponge, filled with home made Lemon Cheese (Lemon Curd).  The curd recipe sits in my collection, hand typed and faxed to me by my Mum more than 20 years ago.  {Do you remember the heated fax paper that we used to use?} The recipe sheet is now sepia in colour, and filled with nostalgia.  The Cheese is packed with lemon flavour and a super easy recipe to follow.

Enjoy a citrus treat.  Decorate it with Cranberries to tie in to the Holiday Season, and enjoy sharing a classic with family and friends.

Continue reading A Classic with a Citrus Twist

7 Years of Patience

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks, Flickr Creative Images

There is a big story in Vancouver that is garnering little public attention but it is a great story. It is a story of commitment, of patience, of passion and of fortitude. Trevor Bowden, Jacob Malthouse, and Anastasia O’Rourke founded Big Room in 2007, here in Vancouver, with an aim to coordinate the community’s application for the .eco top level domain.

Back in 2007 Vancouver hadn’t hosted the Winter Olympics. William and Kate hadn’t married. The iPhone 4 hadn’t been released, let alone the 5 or the 6. The economic meltdown hadn’t happened. While 2007 seems a long time ago, it was the year that this dynamic team gave birth to the idea that the release of the .eco domain would be best served in the hands of a community body, not a private sector organization. With patience, passion and creativity these people have lived this dream for 7 years, taking on board supporters at every step of the way. There was no guarantee of a win, particularly as only one other community application had ever won a domain before them (.hotel).

Several weeks ago ICAAN (the body that monitors the global Domain Name System) announced Big Room as the winners of the bid.  For seven years, the Big Room team has patiently followed it’s dream, shifting fluidly from goal post to goal post as the ICAAN released ever-changing requirements.  In our fast-paced world, where we demand results immediately, this kind of determination and patience is dwindling and unheralded. It is simply fantastic that Big Room has beaten it’s competitors, that it’s investors have stayed behind the dream and with the team every step of the way, and that the future of the .eco domain is in the hands of Global Community Leaders.


Photo courtesy of Google Images

Congratulations to Trevor, Jacob and all of your ‘crew’ that have made this happen.

One planet, one internet, one domain.

#doteco @doteco