Off Grid Islander

Living off the Grid on a west coast island


Isn’t she pretty

With this ever freaking endless rain we aren’t making very much progress.

E has made a nice job on the bathroom tile, but everything else construction wise has come to a grinding rainy halt… I’m not too concerned as we are still in April and surly to Pete the rain will end one day.

I turned my attention to flooring. After asking my friends for advice, pouring over the Google  and visiting a multitude of stores we have finally decided on our flooring. We got a great deal yesterday on cork flooring in the perfect colour. 

It goes with the tile we chose for the hearth nicely. As an added bonus We found back splash tile in the same pattern as the hearth tile. It was fate!

There were five cross beaks on my bird feeder this week..  two adults and three babies…

Isn’t she pretty?



Unexpectedly expose myself

Great celebration on the island for those returning to the newly renovated local marina. It has been closed for a year. We aren’t returning. We have found the facilities offered at the larger facility in town more compatible.

I just had to post pictures of Craig’s progress. What was our tv room, then our bedroom is now no more. Gone, wooosh.

At some point all of the demolition will be done and we will just be constructing. My main job is cleaning up behind the guys. It includes two of my favourite things, burn piles and making order out of chaos. I’m not very strong so my slow treks up the hill with the debris are hard on my wrists . But I am on my own clock and work at my own pace. It gives me time to imagine deck planters in my head.

All of the plants Marion gave me in the fall for the driveway are starting to come up. They seem to have survived the perfectly miserable winter and deer nibbles. If I look past the pile of navvy jack, cement, lumber and tools, I can imagine how lovely the rockery garden will be, eventually.

E has now got our house up and running with not only hot running water but the power restored. We were only disconnected from the generator and solar panels for two nights. All of the utilities have been moved to the cabinet in the new bathroom. He even got the washing machine working.

The opening of the local marina will bring a return of the commuter traffic past our house. The fully functioning bathroom comes at a fortuitous time. I won’t be dependant on our outhouse and will be less likely to 

unexpectedly expose myself 

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It some thought

Without the partnership in the family home at the other end of the island we have had to change how we use this property. The plan we have is that eventually down the road we will build a bunkie for our growing family. Way down the road. What was a perfectly awesome wee cabin for the two of us, now has to accommodate our three kids and their future families. 

In the back of our minds as we dismantle parts of the current house for the reconfiguration we think of repurposing. Anything from the original cabin that we can’t use,  we set aside for the bunkie. We don’t need that window- we can use it in the bunkie. We don’t need that door – we can use it in the bunkie.. those stairs? Set them aside… that’s right, for the bunkie. At the end of the day there isn’t much in the way of materials we will have to buy for the bunkie…

Last fall my friend Patty brought me a baby Hawthorne. I stuck  it in the ground along the new driveway and left it for the winter. I always explain to the plants why we are moving them and wish them the best in their new home. I just checked on it. Doesn’t it look happy? I have it surrounded now by a cage until it is strong enough to fend off the deer.

Patty was over the other day during a discussion about possible uses for the Japanese tub which we took out of the old bathroom. Probability was high that it would be a shower in the bunkie but like the true gardener she is, she immediately suggested we make it a planter. Brilliant….!

With my ongoing guilt about taking the trees down on the back deck and my promise to the birds to plant as many trees as I take down I have jumped at Patty’s suggestion. We are going to incorporate the tub into the deck below the surface of the deck boards. It will be filled with soil and a specimen tree planted within. 

I haven’t decided on what type of tree or bush yet. Perhaps it will be the home of whatever vine we choose to grow up the pergola over the deck for shade. It will have to enjoy salty breeze and hot sun. I don’t know yet.  I’ll have to give

 it some thought 


Haven’t much changed

I have a clear memory of the view from my grade three classroom overlooking the muddy field next to the black top. On sunnier days the black top was covered with children lined up to take their turn in the perpetual games of square ball which lined side by side.

Likewise on a sunny day, on the field grassy and green, would be the chaotic organization of games of scrub baseball in every corner of the field. The players blended together. Their games indistinct but by the size of the children waiting to field the balls. Grade four children far away from the near teen grade sevens.

But, on the day in my memory there is only one seagull sitting in the muddy field. The horrid mud brought by forty days and forty nights of straight unending miserable soggy wet ugly rain. I remember it being forty days and nights as my Sunday school teacher implied the weather had similarities to a biblical story of note.

Our teacher, Mrs. Swan droned on and on about the value of cleaning beneath our finger nails as I lost interest and gazed out the window at the seagull. 

That memory comes to mind fifty two years later as I sit at my window watching the seagulls out in the rain. They are oblivious to how unpleasant it is out there. I imagine they don’t think much of my fortitude. I am a fair weather gardener at the best of times let alone my enthusiasm for cleaning up our work site in miserable weather. They enjoy this rain? Good for them.

E is on the ferry to the city for the day and the water is so rough the Captain has closed the outside decks. I can’t remember a March with not so much as three days of clear skies in a row.

We are fortunate that the renovation is at a point where there are plenty of inside jobs to keep us busy. At some point we need to take the roof off. I would expect a week of guaranteed dry weather would be optimum.

Twenty years ago I met a red haired woman in my office who through a very unlikely conversation learned which elementary school I had attended. She informed me that her neighbour had taught at that same school. As a forty year old professional looking woman dressed in a blue suit, sitting at a desk with not one but two computers and manicured nails, I asked her to give my regards to the teacher. Mrs. Swan, I was sure would be to close to 150 years old by then and I felt confident wouldn’t remember me even if she were alive.

The next morning red head approached me with a broad grin. Not only was her neighbour the Mrs. Swan but she remembered me. In all of her years teaching she only had one Moira. What I would have given for a name like Mary or Jennifer. Red went on with Mrs. Swan’s memory. I was apparently a nice enough girl but inattentive. When I wasn’t laughing with my friends I was gazing out the window.

With all of the renovation going on I find it increasingly diffficult to keep my hands clean. My nails look like a long shoremans. Apparently one of my favourite pastimes continues to be gazing out the window at the seagulls and I sill love to laugh with my friends. Fifty some odd years later, I 

haven’t much changed


Be any better

It was a week of good news after better news after great news.

Although the weather has been perfectly miserable, E has had plenty to keep him busy indoors.

He hooked up the water to the bathroom sink, toilet and bath. With great difficulty he got the on demand water heater working. So, we have hot and cold running water in the house! We were only disconnected for five days.. Pretty darned good…. Even the kitchen sink has water. 

We were in town on the weekend and bought the tile for the bathroom and wood stove. The bathroom tile is a basic white and grey but the tile for under the wood stove is gorgeous! I love it….. it will be a few weeks before we move the stove so it wasn’t urgent to get it just yet.. but I couldn’t resist.

The electrical move is ongoing. At this point everything is disconnected and vacated from the soon to be demolished front room. E is installing it all in the new utility cabinet in the bathroom. The new set up will have the bathroom sink, toilet, bathtub, washing machine, kitchen sink and propane oven within five feet of each other. The on demand propane water heater right beside them and the propane fridge fairly close by. It will be a very simple layout under the house for water and gas supply.

When we left our marina in town on Saturday, a group of seagulls were making a fuss on the water beside the gas barge. They were catching herring off the surface of the water. Within minutes there were six eagles, a turkey vulture and a hawk fishing in front of us. It was a welcome few minutes of spontaneous entertainment and hints that we might soon have a herring spawn in front of our house.

The hummingbirds are back in droves and are emptying the feeder once a day. 

When E finishes slaving today he will be able to have a nice long soak in the new bathtub in the walless bathroom. Walls are over rated compared to the value of hot water and a bath. Could life 

be any better

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Cause we stink

It has been a crazy busy week, with great progress made. On Monday, seven friends showed up for our second concrete pour.

This pour, was for the foundation of the new room. It was a quicker job than the last one, as the access was easier. But still heavy, back breaking work. We are eternally grateful for our friends for without them I would still be dragging buckets of concrete down the hill. We have one more small concrete job ahead of us but not until all of the framing is done.

E has been working on the bathroom, installing the sink, toilet and tub. He disconnected the water two days ago for the crossover and today is trying to hook up the gas on demand water heater. It has been raining off and on. Usually on, when he gets up on the roof to install the chimney for the propane tank.

My job is to deconstruct and burn debris. I must have walked up the hill fifty times yesterday carrying the concrete forms to the burn pile. No need for a stair master around here.

So the project is progressing well. We are optimistic that we will have running water tonight. If not, our dear neighbours have offered their shower. Good thing,

 cause we stink

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They are back

We haven’t seen whales in front of our house for almost a year. This morning, three herring boats went by, but because there has been no sign of sea lions I don’t think herring season is here yet.

Craig has spent the last few days slaving under the house digging up stumps. The forms have been built around the holes he dug and tomorrow we will pour the concrete foundations for the new room. With a depth of thirty inches we will have a solid anchor attaching us to the island. Not very exciting work,  but the result will be worth its weight in gold.

I tried to stay out of everyone’s way by burning the amassed debris up at the burn pile.  I saved a few posts for a trellis in the garden and when I took them up the hill I found the greenhouse was forty degrees.  Time to start my tomatoes! I planted nine seeds for eight different types of tomatoes. These are seeds I saved myself last summer, so I have no idea if they will take. If I have time Tuesday, I will see if there is anything else I should get started.                                             img_3136-1

E had to run into town at the end of the day and sent me a text message on his way back.

Whales out front!