Off Grid Islander

Living off the Grid on a west coast island

Leave a comment

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

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!





His heart healthy

Two weeks before we go to E’s annual transplant clinic he under goes a complete blood work up. Being the snoopy person that I am, I look at the results on “my ehealth” as soon as they are available. This time, there was a large ugly number in bold which had never been there before. For the last two weeks we have been preoccupied and just a little stressed about the meetings and upcoming testing at the hospital for his 17 year heart transplant checkup.

I had looked up the test and the results on “the google” and it didn’t look good. We headed to the big city accepting the possibility that E might be hospitalized and not come back for a little while. Did I mention we are middle of a reno and I have no walls?
Here is how the conversation went with the Transplant team cardiologist. I paraphrase, but you get the idea.

Dr. (carrying E’s four inch thick medical file).         Hello there E, and how are you doing?

E….                                                      I’m great but we are concerned about my blood work.

Dr..                                                      Well, all your other test results are excellent. We would expect to see this kind of test result in a person who just ran a marathon. Have you been running marathons?

E…..                                                     No. What about pouring concrete and carrying heavy lumber up and down hills and on and off barges… for days and days before the blood test…

Dr.                                                         That would do it. Good for you. Usually, I am trying to encourage my patients to be more active. Keep it up. But, pace yourself and don’t be taking on these projects in the hot days of summer. See you in six months.

We have now returned to the island with E’s clean bill of health. I have packed away my worries and will continue taking apart walls and floors.  E will return to what he does best, living a life which keeps his mind engaged, his life stress free and 

his heart healthy

Leave a comment

getting things done

March 9th and with all we have to do, it is friggin snowing again.. so I am taking the opportunity to sit by the fire and catch my breath. I am day dreaming. When all is said and done this will be the view from our deck.

Yesterday, E began plumbing the bathroom. He is in his element with this stage of the project. He loves to work on the systems and his back appreciated the rest from the recent physical labour.

I was tasked with cleaning up the mess from the day before. We had stripped the shakes off the little room and begun the demolition. By the time we were finished, Craig couldn’t safely proceed with building the forms for the new room.

So I hauled all the mess through the hole in the wall to the burn pile


The area is now tidy enough for Craig to get in and do what he needs to do. The remaining shakes will be stacked under the house and reused on the new addition between the windows…The trenches you can see are where the forms will be built and the foundations poured for the new room.

This morning, all of the same people who helped pour our foundations met near the firehall to pour the concrete for a new community garage. Eighteen people, three cement mixers, four hours later, and just before the snowfall… project complete. These islanders have a way of

getting things done.



Leave a comment

Walls and freeze

As this terribly cold winter progresses into March, we continue  with the project at hand.DSCN1508

Today, Craig began framing up the bathroom and cut a hole in the wall for a window. He can’t frame it up completely until we are ready to take out the original bathroom. The objective is to live in the house during the entire renovation with as few days without a bathroom and roof as possible.

E and I began our morning peeling the shakes off the front room. It was windy and cold out on the perch. My hands were killing me from lifting concrete yesterday, so once we were finished I wasn’t really up to doing much more. E and Craig slaved until six. By the time they were done there were holes in walls and piles of debris around the perimeter of the house.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I promised Craig I would be more productive tomorrow and will get all that mess cleaned up.

E will begin plumbing the new bathroom tomorrow and Craig continues with the front room foundation prep.

E and I are living in a plastic enclosed room with the fireplace. We are quite cozy and warm. But the rest of the house is freezing. As they say, March comes in like a lion so….. it’s a great time to take off your

walls and freeze…


are all exhausted

I will be brief.
We started our day at 7:3o with final site preparations. Our friends arrived at ten. Fourteen of them!

Over the last three days, E and Craig had built the forms under the existing house and reinforced them with rebar. This morning, jobs were divided up. Everyone had a part to play. There were those who shovelled navvy jack, those who mixed the cement, those who carried cement filled buckets on dollies to the house and those who tipped the cement into the trench which surrounded the underside of the original house.

Jan and Craig began the pour at the front of the house on the cliff edge.

At the side, we poured from above through the deck. Then we went under the house for the back edges. At one point Kathy had to slide in over the rocks under the house into a tiny itty bitty little space… did I mention she is a tiny itty bitty woman who volunteers for the most unpleasant of jobs…..

We broke after two hours for hot dogs and cookies… there was coffee all day and beer at the end of the job… It took us four hours and no one complained…

To summarize…. the people on this island are awesome, we now have foundations and we are all exhausted

This slideshow requires JavaScript.





Leave a comment

don’t tell them

Back in the day, my girlfriends and I would order a giant bran muffin at Binos in Kerrisdale, drink coffee and talk for hours and hours at a time. Waitresses would groan at the site of us as we occupied the window booth and picked away at our muffins. I loved those muffins and have been looking for the recipe for years.

With a great deal of the supplies on site, it was time to begin the renovation. Twenty seven-year old house.. never too late to pour foundations.

The house was originally built as a summer cabin. Additions over the years included a bedroom, bathroom and back deck. In an attempt to stay in this little house for another twenty or thirty years, we decided, our first addition would be to attach ourselves firmly to the rock. The equipment was set up beside the back deck and the guys began the grungy job of digging a trench around the underside of the house. For an unpleasant job you really can’t beat the view.


Once the trench is dug around the house, forms will be built and the concrete poured on Monday.

I am busy indoors (where its warm) tearing up the flooring. It is a terrible shame to take up the hardwood but it would be impossible to match with the flooring in the new room. So, it has to go.. As flooring goes, the only thing harder than laying flooring is tearing it up.  I am not fast but I plug along at my own pace. It’s quite cathartic.

Today, my pace included taking a break from the work to make some muffins for coffee time. I have found the perfect recipe for bran muffins and they taste just like Binos.  E and Craig thought I was being nice to make muffins. They didn’t suspect that it was my way of delaying the daunting task at hand. So,

don’t tell them…….


This slideshow requires JavaScript.