Off Grid Islander

Living off the Grid on a west coast island


The new look

And so we began our 37th Valentines with a goal. Our project d’jour.? Clean up the mess.

We started at 9:30 and finished around 4….. We are thoroughly exhausted. Our backs are older than we are and some of those ends were freaking heavy. I rolled them up off the deck up to E, and he rolled them up the ramp … Between the two of us we got a pretty good rhythm going and it seemed to go fairly smoothly. There was a lot of grunting.

Seven truck loads of rounds have now been added to the enormous pile already at the top of the driveway ready to be split. A great project for our sons when they visit.

The burn pile now, at 6 pm is almost down to ash. I am a big fan of revolving burn piles. We burn debris as near as we can safely to where the branches fall.  When it’s cool the ashes will go into the garden and you will never be able to tell the fire was there.

It’s raining now, perfect timing.

At the end of the day, we sat by the fire, beers in hand and we watched a tugboat. The tug  crossed from its usual path to the narrows. It had no boom attached and came at full speed straight toward our house. I guess these tugs that pass us every day are the same tugs and notice us like we do them. This captain zoomed right up to the house, tooted his horn and waved. I guess he approves of 

the new look

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clean up begins

What a great day for murdering trees. Blue skies, flat calm, a balmy 8 degrees. Pictures are the best way to tell the story. This is our  back deck this morning at 8 am.dscn1255

I made coffee and settled in with the dog at the patio table out-of-the-way and watched the guys do their work. This is why we hire professionals, who obviously love their job. dscn1283That tree was completely hollow from the bottom to the very top.




They took down all the trees we could ever want taken down including the dead arbutus up at the garden, with hours to spare. These guys are amazing at what they do. This is our deck at 3 PM. Note hole in roof where tree used to grow 🙂dscn1350


clean up begins


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in the house

It was a gorgeous day here today. Despite the snow on the ground, and the pond still frozen,dscn1247 the still unfinished greenhouse registered 25 degrees this afternoon.

It was a perfect day to prune the apple, plum and pear trees. We will never do it perfectly, and it will take years to reshape the trees and get them back to Bruce’s level of production. But really, how many apples, pears and plums does a girl need?

We used the tried and true pick up truck ladder method to reach the top spouts.


That stump there beside the apple tree came from the last tree we had taken down which hung over our house. Do you see how rotten it was? We are expecting much of the same with the trees which are coming down tomorrow..

It was great to get outside and work today in the fresh air. I basically ignored the mess

in the house





sad face emoticon

My friend came over yesterday to borrow some mason jars.  My friend, let’s call her Eileen was witness to my lack of preparedness for the coming demolition of my kitchen. She is too polite to say anything but it’s fairly safe to say she was appalled. Although,I had several bins filled with canned goods, I had barely made a dent in the pantry stores. The problem, you see, is I have nowhere to put anything. Well that and I just have no actual oomph these days. Although I did get to play the word oomph in Scrabble this afternoon.

My mother’s  garage is still filled with boxes of our crap from the family home. The studio here is filled with boxes we have brought over to try to empty her garage. They sit, in the studio piled haphazardly in a random dump and dash kind of format. Bins and bins of children’s books sit beside puzzles, chainsaws and Christmas decorations. I haven’t looked at half of it for five years and it will probably still be up there when our kids are selling the house in the estate sale.

We made some headway today. We will be pouring actual foundations under the house, so E tidied up under there. He emptied two truck loads of stuff out from under the house and mapped out the plumbing and wiring for the new bathroom.  I filled more boxes and he took two truck loads up the driveway to the studio.. I expect he pushed the boxes into the studio, slammed the door and ran….

In the kitchen, there is still junk everywhere, the counters are covered. There is nothing to wrap my knick nacks or dishes in until we get to the store on Thursday. With a very low tolerance for mess. .. I am uncomfortable. I will probably have to lower that bar for the next few months..

But now its 6pm. We have had a good days work, the fire is warm and my wine poured. There is a dull thrum of two tug boats as they pass in front of me.


Tonight, I will continue with my on-line scrabble game with Anne. I have several games on the go with some of the women on the island. We play a game which has a “teacher” aspect to it. After I play my turn the teacher tells me if I had the best word or what word I could have put down. In truth, I am not emotionally affected by how many games I win or lose. If I was,  I would never get out of bed. But I like see an increase in positive comments from the teacher.. This morning I missed a 92 point word with a 6 point word. The teacher had

a sad face emoticon.








It has been

There have been times in the last few days when I haven’t ventured outside. Sami, our dog, did not go out to pee yesterday until 4pm! He was under the blanket on my lap hiding from the snow, sleet and rain.

When we did go up the Lane the slush was 5 inches deep…not a pleasant walk at all. 

I am supposed to be packing up the inside of the house but I am not getting anywhere….I am expecting a giant burst of energy imminently….if not today maybe tomorrow.

We have the tree fallers coming on Monday to murder two threatening trees on our deck. One is growing through the roof… It is unfortunate that they have to go but life is tough when you are a tree. There are three levels of tree fallers we use here requiring three levels of skill.

There are the easy trees which E is comfortable doing. Then there are the tall ones that need to be topped, which are done quite skillfully by a guy who comes from a neighbouring island… Then, there are the precarious scary ones which are growing through our deck and over our house. We call a very expensive crew for job like this. They have done work for us before, that no one else would do.. We trust them. 

Monday, there is no wind or snow and it is expected to be quite warm. Ideal conditions. E has to pick them up in town and bring them over for the day. It is 1600.00 for the whole day. No partial days. If by some miracle they finish the two on the deck early, we have others to fill their time.

Hosting the tree fallers on Monday is the second step in our house renovation. The first step was taken this week when we put in the order for our roofing and all of the accompanying construction supplies… Eek there is no going back now…

I’m guessing for the next few months the blog is going to be a lot about the challenges, joys and sorrows of renovating a house off grid on an island. I’m hoping more joys than sorrows. In the meantime the sun is out, and our solar panels are charging nicely.

My view from the perch is considerably brighter than

 it has been


is morning

So apparently I was wrong and “they” were right.

I went to sleep last night star gazing through the window above my bed. I woke up to a cocoon of snow. So before I had my coffee I walked around the property and took pictures.. For the record its been four years since I have seen snow here.. This is what my world looks like this morning..

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You can’t blame me for being doubtful about the snow forecast… Here is a picture of  my wee hummingbird yesterday afternoon2017-02-01-14-58-07


then this morning.



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still be gardening

At any given point we can check four or five different weather forecasts for this island and get four or five different predictions. On more than one occasion we have cancelled a planned trip because of the wind forecast, only to find the waters flat calm. At the end of the day we just don’t plan any trip that can’t be rescheduled. Our days are always flexible.

Tomorrows weather forecast is for snow. Today we had blue skies and sunshine. The waters glassy calm…  It is very hard to believe we have snow in store for us for the weekend.2017-01-31-15-10-10

But, I take nothing for granted and as I hate bringing wood down the hill in the rain let alone snow I spent the morning bringing loads and loads of wood down to the house. I stocked the wood bin on the deck and piled arbutus limbs nice and high beside the wood stove inside. If the forecasters are accurate we will be cozy and warm. If they aren’t we can resume our outdoor projects.

Plans are getting finalized for a pretty major reconstruction of our wee cabin. We have the help of experts. Men who have been involved in construction their whole lives and know this house inside and out. Measurements have been made, plans drawn and a model built. The supply list has been submitted and a barge booked to bring roofing and construction materials over in one load. (it’s a small house) ….

E will do all of the system work, plumbing and electrical. He will also do all of the finishing work (tiling, flooring and drywall). But for the framing and carpentry the pros will be in charge. One of my jobs, cause I do serve a purpose in this whole project is to pack up the interior of the house and figure out some way for us to live our day-to-day lives during the disruption.

We will be cooking our dinners on the barbecue, sleeping in a tent, and cleaning out the cobwebs from the outhouse. It will all be an adventure… very exciting indeed. We are actually taking the roof off of the middle of the house!!!!


Today, I finished planting all of the iris down the driveway so now if the weather turns I will get to work packing up the house. Or if the weather forecasters are wrong, I will try to get my seed trays ready for the greenhouse. Cause reno or not… This summer, I will

still be gardening