with better sleeps

When we finally packed away the king size water bed of our twenties we bought a fancy shmancy double bed with our first house in 1989. That bed lasted exactly 11 years. Not sure if it was the heart transplant or the old mattress which was making E feel worse in 2000 but I eventually had to take him into the Bay store in Richmond to look for a new one. He literally lay down on the first bed closest to the door and fell asleep. We bought that one. It was a queen, we had two dogs by then.

Ten years later we moved to the island and brought with us a new mattress from Costco. It lasted exactly 8 years and four months. It is not so easy to bring a mattress to the island especially in these days and these times. Thank goodness for mattresses which come in a box. I would (without compensation) like to endorse the Zinus mattress in a box from Amazon.

We originally purchased a Zinus double mattress in a box for the bunkie. It was $333 and came four days after we ordered it. My son tried it out and approved so we ordered a second for the bunkie’s second bedroom. I was making the bed with the new mattress and promptly cuddled up for a nap….. hmmm not bad.

We hadn’t really budgeted for a new bed at the house but this summer, when I wasn’t feeling well and sleeping on the couch ’cause the bed was horrid, E took pity on me and ordered us a new queen sized mattress in a box. Honestly, maybe we have been sleeping on rocks for so long that our bar is really low but these mattresses are awesome. A queen sized mattress arrived in a box, four days after ordering it, for a grand total $394. Simple wheel barrow trip on and off the boat and down to the house. It expands over three days to twelve inches high and becomes deliciously firm. Maybe not for a million dollar city mansion but for a house on an off grid island and less than $400, even if it only lasts five years instead of eight, I will be happy.

Lord knows we are once again happy campers

with better sleeps.

Half a day

I waited as long as I could for the perfect opportunity to sit and read my first book of the winter. Heavy rains were predicted. No outside projects could possibly get done. I watched the clock for a reasonable time to pour a glass of wine and settled in with one of my favourite authors, Louise Penny, and a visit with Inspector Gamache in Paris.

It was, as it always is with Penny’s books, like visiting with old friends, catching up with the latest news during the middle of a murder investigation or two. I scheduled a day and a half in my surprisingly open calendar.

None of the promised rains have appeared but the smokey skies are beginning to clear. We had hoped for maybe 80 mms of rain before the end of the month but every day “they” change the forecast and it looks like it will be less and less. Friggin’ weather forecasters can’t be trusted. I have six or seven apps on my phone and none are the same and none are ever reliably accurate. But it was too late to reschedule my date with Inspector Gamache.

E has been working, when you think about it, non stop since we started the renovation in 2017. I don’t think he has read a book in forever. Although there are tons of little things to still do around here, the house and bunkie are basically finished. You would think all of our friends would be pulling out a rocking chair for E and pouring him a beer. But no..

Anyone who has stopped in over the summer, and I mean all eight of them, have asked E what his next project is. Can’t he take a couple of years off, before he builds the greenhouse, rewires the garden fence, installs a propane shed or replaces the roof on the studio? Must there always be a project? Can’t he spend the next year or two with his feet up and a subscription to a cryptic crossword puzzle site? What is it with our friends on the island who can’t imagine each other without a project d’jour?

It is because the projects, the work, the challenges, are why a lot of us are here and we all know that if we aren’t in the middle of one we are thinking about the next one. It is a common trait in people who choose to live or vacation off grid.

Unfortunately, as it often turns out, I read the book too fast and finished it at 1 pm. Although the rains never came, I had already committed to staying in my jammies all day reading. I couldn’t possibly reschedule ‘cause, unlike a lot of the people around me, I have no issue staring out the window doing nothing for

half a day

Wear a mask

Fridays were the worst. I would spend the morning baking dozens of banana chocolate chip cookies. Once we got the phone call, E would go to bed and I would go for a walk around the village. The kids wouldn’t be home from school for a few hours.

Normally, I am not big on shopping and do not miss that part about city living. One store in particular which I enjoyed had pretty merchandise, soothing back ground music and was filled with gorgeous scents. I didn’t have a lot of money but if there was good news from the morning to celebrate I might buy a piece of their home made fudge or a little something for my daughter’s bedroom.

On the Thursday, E would have had a heart biopsy. The cardiologist went in through his jugular and took a small piece of his heart to analyse. It was the only way to monitor if the disease destroying his heart had returned. If there was no sign of disease, E was a candidate for transplant. If the disease was back his name was removed from the list. This routine went on for seven months.

It was 1999 and I hadn’t had my haircut for months. My usual hairdresser was in the city. I needed a new one now that I was at home on stress leave. I walked past a men’s barbershop in the village. It had recently been renovated, with a woman’s salon in the back. A lone young woman was puttering with her tools, no clients, bored. She welcomed me to a chair and a twenty year friendship began.

You need to remember I hate chit chat, am terrible meeting new people and am at best awkward when talking to cashiers, waiters or hairdressers. It’s not that I am rude, I am just “shy”. Yet this woman was unusually nice. I was lonely and her personality was irresistible. She got me chatting and somehow the topic of this island came up.

She said “OMG, I know that island well. We go there all the time with my husband’s best friend. One time”, she continued, “he lent us his cabin for a weekend before we were married. It was off season, no one was around and I had a medical emergency late in the evening. My husband, then boyfriend, ran to the neighbours and knocked on their door. The wife was so nice! She helped me and calmed me down with a cup of tea while the husband figured out how to get us off the island.”

Although we didn’t know that many people on the island, I was enjoying the distraction from my worries and asked what their names were.

“Warren and Helen” she replied. Warren and Helen were my in-laws. This hairdresser, who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, was good friends with our island neighbours and, although my mother in law had died almost four years earlier, remembered her vividly and could not speak more highly of her and her kindness.

I immediately went home with my awesome new haircut and phoned my father in law, who was living on this island full time. He, of course was humbled that their efforts continued to be so appreciated.

I honestly don’t remember if I have told you this story before. Maybe after all this time I have nothing left and am repeating myself but the lesson bears repeating in these covid days.

When you are long passed from this mortal world, those you have touched with unselfish kindness and generosity will continue to speak of you with respect and love. In 2020, generosity and kindness, couldn’t be easier:

Wear a mask

Our bedroom today

Every afternoon at 1pm, like clockwork , she would leave the living room and the bedroom curtain would close. Hmm I thought, she must be having a nap. She was about my age, late twenties. Sometimes I noticed she had two or three naps in a day. The bedroom curtain would go up and down.

It was 1986 and I would have just put the baby to bed and sat down with a cup of tea. Nothing really to do in my apartment. No daytime TV, no friends with babies to hang out with, no internet. I would look out the window. Our living room window was directly opposite and ten feet away from my neighbour’s South Granville, three story walk up.

Back in the day the authorities used to post the voters list on neighbourhood telephone poles. You could easily check and see if you were registered. I just happened to notice the name of the woman in the neighbouring apartment when I was checking to see that we were listed. They also listed occupations. When you think about it, seems kind of odd to have everyone’s names, addresses and occupations posted out in public for any old snoopy neighbour to read.

I had noticed the woman was listed as a therapist. Hmm what kind of therapist is at home all day and needs so many naps?

Did I mention there wasn’t much to do in an apartment with a newborn baby who was good as gold and slept all the time? I looked up Therapists in the yellow pages. There she was with a lovely 2 inch square advertisement on the bottom left hand side of the phonebook, with an appropriate accompanying logo.. Therapists, Sex…. Betty Jones, Let me solve all your problems, big or small and her phone number..

Good job in the garden today. It is getting tidier. If the rains could hold off one more day it would be great. Don’t worry that it looks so sparse. Everything will come back more beautiful and healthy from the pruning.

I have no idea why I told you that story. Is it a story about our strangest neighbour or a way to to distract me from the fact we have caught four mice in

our bedroom today.

The more likely

What a great feeling to finally spend some time in the garden working hard. Digging up plants, chucking some into the compost and moving others to new homes. I have taken the KonMari decluttering method to the garden. If a plant doesn’t bring me joy….out it went…

The beds have been stripped down to the bare essentials. Peonies, roses, gifts from family and friend’s gardens will provide a base from where I can rebuild. Every plant that needs to be moved needs to be moved before the rains come this week. I really need one more good day’s work.

I am looking forward to long winter months poring over gardening books for new ideas. Maybe with a glass of red in front of the fire.

Peace Rose still blooming

The veggie beds are cleaned out and the last of the tomatoes are harvested. The remaining greens are outside the fence for the deer and rabbits. The total tomato harvest was 150 pounds. Probably 100 pounds more than we need. I tried to share as many as possible but suspect friends are starting to hide when they see me coming.

Bunny under the apple tree this afternoon

Five years ago, a heron was found in our garden early one September morning. The fish disappeared and we thought they were all dead. Better late than never, we put up a net over the pond and two weeks later the fish showed themselves. Goldfish have never been known for their bravery.

We now put a net over the water for the winter months to discourage our resident wildlife from snacking in the unsupervised pond. This week, the heron was in a tree at the garden gate. Our twenty odd fish had been happy and healthy the day before so I figured I better get the net out pretty quick. It could have been a day late, as we haven’t seen any fish since. Hopefully, the fish are just scared and laying low.

E has been adding the lattice around the base of the bunkie. We don’t want the local otter making the crawl space their home. The boards will eventually get painted black. The left over bits will go in the garden. It will all get used.

Neighbours have mentioned that there seems to be fewer birds around this summer. Almost to the minute that I pulled a huge Mexican Orange shrub out of the garden the birds arrived en masse. My first thought was that the birds agreed that the shrub was overgrown and a menace. When E joined me in the garden and saw the birds he commented that I must have disturbed lots of yummy bugs. Given a second thought, that explanation was probably

the more likely

Could it be

When we moved here eight years ago we expected our life would be much like it is now, fairly isolated and spending the majority of our time alone. This will be our ninth winter here and until now our time was filled with more socializing than one would ever expect on an off grid remote island. I imagine this winter there will likely be fewer dinner parties and more campfires.

Properties on the island have been selling like hot cakes this summer and there are a lot of new people. E figures 30 properties have changed hands recently. The island only has 190. With Covid there are no opportunities to properly say goodbye to friends leaving or properly welcome those who are new. Our sad goodbyes will have to be implied and our welcomes better expressed next summer. E and I are pretty committed to isolating so ironically our ninth winter will likely be as we expected all of them would be. A lot of time alone.

Today was a day in the garden for me. It is the time of year when I murder plants I have grown tired of, move unhappy ones to new homes and prune the heck out of others. With such a small flower garden, real estate is expensive and can’t be wasted on plants I don’t love.

I had planned on growing fewer vegetables this summer and increasing the flower garden area. Then covid arrived and I thought it would be prudent to grow more food. The vegetables this summer were beyond successful and I will continue next year, however I will plant way fewer tomatoes! This year’s harvest has been madness!

Seven months. It has been seven months since I had a haircut. I have spent the last week trying to convince E, with no success, to cut my hair. Honestly, if he can figure out how to install gas lines and solar power in our house with just a visit to Youtube why can’t he use the same resource to learn to cut my hair. How hard

could it be?