In the fridge

There is just a little housekeeping to mention today. For the record there are two milestones. Well, one milestone and one event.

We had our first snow on the local mountains on Tuesday. A few years ago it only lasted a couple of days. I suspect we will see a lot more of it this year. Fine by me. We aren’t going anywhere.

Years ago I gave up knitting when they took most of my wrist bones out. But I have all of this gorgeous wool sitting unused in a bag in my closet and thought I could maybe handle the weight of a child’s toque. I gave it a go this week and although the result was nothing fancy it was fun to do. One toque done for granddaughter and now I am going to try a fisherman’s style hat for E. The trick, I have found, is to put the needles down and rest for an hour when my hands begin to resemble a claw.

Without any witnesses to see us, we have fallen into the most juvenile of routines. We live on, as we call it, Edmonton time. What it is, in fact, is an inability to physically accept the recent time change. Dinner early, bedtime really early and then we wake up crazy early. In our defence, when it gets dark at 4:30, it is hard not to think it is time to put our work down and eat.

We highly recommend Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. We finished it in two nights. Now we are watching season two of Undercover. Nothing much else of interest to mention.

Oh the milestone? You want to know the milestone?

On November 13 at 7 am in the god awful year of 2020, after a wild and stormy night of wind and rain, we finally filled all of our water tanks. We have 8000 GALLONS OF WATER !

As promised, we won’t need to talk about water anymore.

(Pause for applause)

And with that, I have pulled out all of my gardening books and seed catalogues to plan my new and improved summer garden. It will be a lovely halibut dinner to celebrate tonight. The champagne is

in the fridge

to be happy

Windy, windy, windy. Consistent strong winds for three days this weekend have made the house a little harder to heat. Not so much harder, but more work.. Can’t just light the fire in the morning and forget about it like we often do. Our afternoon sunshine often negates the need for adding more wood. With winds, at times gusting 65k straight at us since Thursday, we have needed to keep the fire roaring. It is time to start using the arbutus we have set aside for the colder days.

If he could be any closer he would be inside the stove..

My son and granddaughter have found a way to visit us safely this month. We will likely have an opportunity to see all of our kids, if not on Christmas itself, at least in December. There is a plan in place to soon bring a new puppy into our home. We have finally sealed every possible mouse access route into our house. There are many reasons to be happy today.

Christmas won’t ever be the same, now that we live here, and we will continue to have to celebrate many occasions without our family as long as the virus continues. With the return of respect for science to the American government, I believe the chances of a coordinated defeat of the virus for our common good is now possible. Again, many reasons to be happy today.

I saw the weirdest thing the other day. Seven sea lions lined up about fifteen feet out from the cliff below the Wilsons and as a unit swam toward the rocks. Then, they would flip over and swim back out. Kind of like swimming lengths in a pool. I watched for more than an hour before I realized that they were herding small fish to the wall and then eating them… The fish would fly through the air trying to escape.

Even after nine years looking out my window I am still seeing new things on the nature channel.

Although the wind is still blowing, the sun is shining a little brighter today. There is optimism in the air and many reasons

to be happy

Takes ten days

I missed Sydney Crosby’s golden goal. I couldn’t stand the stress during the Olympic’s final overtime game and went into the kitchen to wash the dishes… Between us, if I had to be honest, on many occasions I have read ahead to the last page of the book I am reading because I could not stand the suspense. It is a predisposition that I need to know what is going to happen, and affects no one but me… but it is, in many circles, thought a character flaw.

I restocked the cupboards today. Once a week, I visit the tubs stashed around the house to restock my supplies from the groceries I bought in June. It is very satisfying to look in a tub and find what I need. So far my experiment has gone well. I have plenty of coffee, baking supplies and paper products.

The freezer is still so full that our dinner menu is predicated upon whatever first falls onto the floor when the freezer door is opened. I keep a running list of its contents and, with six months under our belt, we easily have another half year’s food on hand.

Sure, there have been some mistakes with my advance purchases and I did underestimate some of the amounts we needed.

The dried shiitake mushrooms I bought for sauces and pizzas were in a word, gross. The newts who live in my compost will hopefully appreciate them.

I have had to add ground beef and ground pork to the freezer this month and next year I need to can more diced tomatoes for the pantry. But other than that, we should be good for most of our food until the spring.

Once a week we get groceries from the neighbouring island. Our order is mostly dairy, bread, vegies and fruit. I try not to spend more than 30.00 per week. Ideally 20.00 is perfect. For absolutely no reason at all, if I am near my self imposed limit, I make the week’s bread if it is necessary to keep us within budget. This is all a kind of exercise in thrift, which is fun in a world where we get our entertainment where we can get it.

I finished yet another Christmas tree quilt this week. This one is for our house. They are fun to make. I have three other various quilts laid out to finish this winter. Keeps me entertained.

We are, in fact, after all, going to get a puppy. A little girl. My Christmas may not include my kids nearby but it will involve some major cuteness.

So the American election is today. In 2016 when the writing was on the wall I went to bed at 8 pm. I am not American. I have grand parents who were, but we don’t talk about them. I have no idea why I am so invested in this election but mostly I just want Trump to be out of my life. I don’t want to hear his voice or see his face again. I don’t want to have to think of the latest horrible thing he has done. Ever again. Any more..

And so, with that, I can’t bear to watch the results on TV anymore. I will go to bed and wake up when the decision is made. Even if it

takes ten days,

Am worried about

Currently we adjust the house temperature by adding wood to the fire in combination with the opening and closing of bedroom doors. If the house is cold we close off the bedrooms. Too hot? Open a door or two. Really, really hot? Start opening windows. We don’t really need a thermostat, we can tell the temperature in the house by where Piper is sleeping.

There are huge issues going on right now, on the island, with house insurance. The major insurers have decided they aren’t going to insure houses with wood stove heating as the primary source of heat in 2021 without a hefty increase in premium. And I mean hefty!

Those of you out there reading this who are also living off grid, feel free to tell me if you find an insurer. In the meantime, we have until the spring to completely reconfigure our heating method or come up with some serious cash.

Temperatures are decidedly colder this week. It is usually 4 degrees warmer at our house than at the marina across the way. We don’t really worry about our pipes freezing unless Vancouver Island hits -3 or lower for two or more days. It hasn’t.

Stopped in at the wine locker on our way home to replenish the stock and I could not believe how cold it was. Hmm might have to move the reds somewhere warmer. I worked so hard at keeping the mice away it didn’t occur to me that my brilliant set up might get too cold… Are Italian red popsicles a thing?

Finished the quilt I started before garden season kicked in. It isn’t anything fancy or clever. Basically a big soft flannel blanket for one of the bedrooms in the bunkie. Thanks to Maureen for the idea to do a rag quilt and avoid some stitching hassle. It was pretty darned simple, even for me, but it is warm and cuddly so mission accomplished.

Forget about frozen pipes and house insurance… its our wine stash I

am worried about

about sea lions

Someone, who shall remain nameless but I can guarantee regrets her mistake, spilled coffee on her keyboard and for the last six months hasn’t been able to capitalize with her right hand or end a sentence with a period or question mark. But her new to me lap top arrived yesterday with an honest to goodness functioning keyboard. It is a basic machine, really a glorified typewriter but it has made writing fun again. Maybe I will get back to work on the book and be able to show my face in public again.

Although beautiful, the two herons who have taken up residence on Link Island have been caught on camera, three times this week, fishing at the pond in my garden . The protective netting has been reinforced, the one floating dead fish removed and the trail camera trained on the pond for crime scene evidence. Stay tuned.

Arbutus trees are common in this area and we are fortunate to have many on our property. Since we moved here though, there has been some kind of fungus attacking them and, although normally gorgeous trees, ours have been kind of sad looking. Those days are over and many trees seem to once again be thriving. To the casual observer one might think the red trees in the forest on Link are perhaps maples. But with my super duper zoom lens you can see it is actually arbutus trees covered in their distinctive red berries. The robins love them as described in this post from 2013: (it a hood)

With all of the rain we have had in the last couple of days there has been amazing headway on the water accumulation. It might be boring to you but we are excited to be as close to full as we are today. I keep a book tracking our progress with a diagram of the tanks. My system isn’t complicated. C = full and closed. O=open.

We have seven tanks and five are now full and closed. This time last year we only had 2000 gallons. It should be mentioned that none of this water is from our well. It has all been caught off our new rain catchment system. I am very excited for my garden next year. Just think, when the tanks are finally full I might stop boring you endlessly with this topic.

Lots of sea lions are starting to show up these days. I like watching the seagulls steal food from them. I am still waiting for a picture of an eagle doing the same. For your sake I am hoping we can talk less about water storage and more

about sea lions.

You will notice

With the arrival of so many new island neighbours and a lot of blog readers who weren’t following the blog during our last really good herring spawn, I thought I would provide some information which might excite you for what may come again. Cross your fingers the spring of 2021 will provide another great nature show. With all the crazy that is going on in our world, we could use something to look forward to. A reward if you will.

This spring it will have been seven years since the last really good herring spawn around this island. A number of times in the last week we have tried to explain to newcomers what to watch for and how really exciting that time was here. It is very hard to describe, but here is a summary of our experience from 2014.

What we have observed from the 2014 herring spawn (our first) is as follows.. It is not meant to be scientific in any way but for our record.

March 21 – We saw schools of herring below our deck and watched them release eggs which floated to the surface

March 28 – Pacific White sided dolphins swam below the deck presumably here for the herring

April 2 – Spawn in the waters opposite our house on neighbouring island. Eggs visible on the kelp, water white with milt, Gulls and eagles feasting on herring pushed to the surface by hundreds of sea lions

April 6– Pod of Orca (5) follow the spawn through the Narrows past our house. April 8 – Milt in the water north of our marina.

April 9 – Spawn outside of south Marine Park… Lots and lots of eagles

April 10 – Milt appears in our south bay.. begins in front of the family house and spreads across the bay. By early evening it filled the bay and the shore off the Point.. The bay next to us completely is white also by the time we went home.

April 13 – Marine Park full of eagles and sea lions… Our sister-in-law woke up in the family house to an episode of the national geographic in the south bay. Over fifty eagles, and as many otter, sea lions and seals feeding on the spawn. It continued for the next two days

April 20 – Hundreds of herring gulls and sea gulls remain on the beaches at the south end. Fields of Scoters hang around on the water for over ten days just off shore.

There has been some question of the route the herring follow.. There are those in the camp who say the herring come from the north, moving south… as we witnessed with the spawn and others who say the herring move north… E’s dad was of the opinion they moved north. I would never argue with him. Especially as he spent most of his career with the DFO. So I looked it up in on the google… I attach for your interest….. Herring Migratory Behavior

It seems the herring feed in the fall and winter off the west coast of Vancouver Island and then move north up the Georgia Straight, past us, to then spend the spring spawning and moving back down south. It seems everyone was right

I am confident that very few of you have followed this blog since the beginning in 2010 and even fewer have later joined and then read it from the beginning. You could call it laziness that I am just repeating an entry from six years ago but I figure few of

you will notice