Off Grid Islander

Living off the Grid on a west coast island


In their gardens

Ok, so a warning, that although this post is mostly Christmas related, it gets a little blue, Rated A for Adult and kind of rude.. So if you are easily offended.. Off you go….. See you next time..

If there is anyone left.. I shall carry on…

We have no stores on this island and Christmas shopping is difficult. The agreement with our kids this Christmas was that we wouldn’t buy presents but would endeavour to somehow get together somehow, somewhere in between our other obligations.. (My daughter has to work )… We would however, continue our tradition of stockings.  Each of us puts one thing in each other’s stocking… It takes the load off Santas back…. We will open them on Boxing Day when we are all together. 

My 95 year old mother did not agree to the aforementioned plan. When she told me quite proudly this morning that she had done all of her Christmas shopping on line yesterday I said … “But, I thought we weren’t doing gifts this year”.. She wasn’t in the room for that discussion apparently and told me in no uncertain terms.. No family of hers is coming into the house without getting a little something from her… Sigh… So I joined for their free thirty day trial and began my Christmas shopping this morning. It comes with free shipping and I can cancel at anytime.. Ie. tomorrow

I have absolutely no idea what to get my mother so began Christmas 2016 by browsing the Amazon on line guide. Mom  apparently, has quit drinking Sherry so I thought I would look at her next favorite thing, ginger chocolate.. They had 15 pounds of ginger chocolate pretzels for 115.00!!…  Yowser.. I don’t think she could eat 115.00 dollars worth of chocolate covered pretzels if she lived two more lifetimes.. 

I decided to switch my efforts to stocking stuffers.. Thought maybe I would get an idea for the kids or E….This is how my search went… Searching…. Stocking Stuffers… Sort by:  Lowest to Highest..

Scrolled past the Donald Trump toilet paper and the three item package of dog chew toys for only 87.00 to right below the pink balaclava ski mask.. There was and here we go kids.. Hide your eyes.. 

Hot selling reusable condom stimulation penis sleeve penis extension dick cock rings vibrating dildo penis ring sex toy sex products for men … 23.95… And this is where it gets wierd… I shit you not … it says.

See patio, lawn and garden for more information and items like this

I have had to quit my Christmas shopping and spend some serious time wondering just what the heck other people are doing on their patios,on their lawns and 

in their gardens..


Such nice guys

Years ago my friends nephew was walking in a market in Cambodia, alone on Christmas Day. He got to talking to a Canadian couple who insisted he come home to their apartment for Christmas dinner with them. “He shouldn’t be alone” they said. During the dinner they discovered that his Aunt (my friend) had been their next door neighbour in Prince George back when they were first married. Small world.

My friend, taking note of her nephews good fortune to be welcomed at Christmas in a foreign land payed it forward. The next year, while walking on Granville Island on December 24th, ran into a backpacker travelling alone from Australia.  She invited him home to the Christmas dinner with her children who had all travelled to Australia and could well understand his place at their family dinner table. 

We are currently renting our house to a crew of trades working on a neighbours house. There is more than one house rented to these guys at the moment. They are good guys and taking great care of our homes.  Winter is upon us and these guys are working long days in cold conditions to try to get the walls in before Christmas. When we see them as we drive past the construction site, my old arthritic bones ache just watching them out in the rain. They come over to the island on Mondays with their coolers of “milk” and cans of chef Boyardi. After their long days of physical labour they sleep in sleeping bags on pull out couches and window seats. It’s not ideal… But you do what you do to make a living. Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like a nice hot home cooked meal. I remembered my friends story and decided to pay it forward. 

They came tonight at 6:30. Ten of them. Before they were allowed through the door I made them turn off their cell phones… Island rules. It was a night to laugh a bit and fill their tummys… I didn’t want to be competing with their friends and hockey scores. I know my neighbour Duanne says he didn’t get a handbook when he moved here outlining the island rules. But trust me, if there was a handbook.. Rule number one, no cell phones when enjoying a meal together.

 We had two huge pots of chilli, bowls of salad, loaves of homemade French bread, two types of cake and lots of “milk”. The fire was well stoked and the house warm and cozy.. I figured they must have been starving so we got straight to the meal. Even the two dogs seemed to understand that this night was about the guys and their chance to sit back and talk about something other than rebar and 2 X 4’s… We didn’t mention work. 

People ask me why I like living on this island. Hey, where else would I get to have dinner and spend such an enjoyable evening with eleven 

Such nice guys

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It’s about time

 E made a habit of going to every big name music concert, back in the day when rock was at its best. He has seen the Rolling Stones, Led Zepellen and the  J. Giles band. He has seen the Who, countless times. He remembers they had to cut the Zepellen concert in 1973 short because they announced they were taking Robert Plant to the hospital. He was unaware of the huge riot which went on outside of the Stones concert in 1972 and remembers he paid $6.00 for the ticket.  He would see a concert one night in Vancouver and then drive to Victoria or Seattle for the next nights show. He was the guy, up at the front by the stage like a maniac. Our first concert together was The Police at the old Colosseum in Vancouver. Just as I got comfortable for the two hours in my nice cozy seat at the far end of the arena, the lights dimmed and the music started. E jumped up and yelled “Let’s go”. I looked at him like he was mad..”to the stage, the band is coming on”..

At the time I was five foot three inches.  The doctor tells me I have since left three of those inches back in the nineties. Women my height don’t stand in front of stages at concerts. On this island, we get tagged for jobs like climbing into water tanks or under houses to find wires. There are very few advantages to being short with tiny feet. 

Yesterday, five of us set off to the neighbouring island for groceries and a bit of shopping. My favorite store there carries, hand knit sweaters, kitchen do dads, and every possible Merrill shoe you could imagine.. What a great store!!!  After I paid for my few stocking stuffers I looked for my driver for the day, Kathy. I found her on the floor of the kids shoe area trying on shoes. 

I wear children’s socks and boys gum boots but I stopped trying for deals on shoes when I accepted that no matter how cheap they were, E was not going to appear in public with me in Pink runners adorned with flashing lights and the face of Barbie. But Kathy drew me over and said…. “But look they have children’s Merrills”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Merrill shoes on this island, for me they are heaven sent. With the titanium plates in my wrists I can’t tie or untie shoes very well. Slip on shoes for the constant indoor and outdooring we do are mandatory. The rubber soles are great for the boat and the support helps for the constant treading on uneven surfaces…(rocky paths etc.) But I have worn out the two pair I brought with me and I can’t afford the current price 130.00 per pair. I am wearing cheap knock offs that I got from Marks Work Wharehouse and my feet are taking the toll with bruised heals and stiff joints.

But, yesterday my genius, short, driving friend with the tiny feet encouraged me to try the children’s Merrills that were on sale. Children’s size 5.5 is the equivalent to a woman’s 6 apparently. Who knew???  As I was paying for my new children’s Merrills at half the price of the adult pair the sales clerk says ” We would like to give you another 30% off because they are the last pair”..  $47.00 for Merrill shoes!!!!!  I was so happy….  Yeah Kathy my new best friend!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I am a woman of simple needs but one of them is comfortable shoes. Yesterday, was the first time I benefited from being short with tiny feet… It 

was about time


Directly beneath me

We played bridge last night.. Well E and Murray played bridge. Jan and I mostly watched. Wasn’t our night for cards. But we still managed to eat a bowl of trail mix and a bowl of licorice all sorts. Wine was consumed and tea with cookies finished the evening.. All in all a pretty good Wednesday night.

I like those kinds of evenings . A couple of good friends and self depreciating laughter. Playing a game of cards to while away the night. No stress. Don’t have to clean the house or change my shirt. No talk of politics or gossip. This island invites casual encounters and no one has any expectations of a grande fete. If I had answered the door in my pjs neither of our bridge partners would have probably noticed.. 

I like to entertain here at the family house. It’s big and roomy and a perfect house for card games or big parties. Dinner or dancing or general merry making shared between good friends. We have had some memorable parties here. Hard to do at our  house.. Two maybe four dinner guests and we are at our max. Last summer, when we hosted the tragically hip concert at our little house, I had to insist that everyone stay out of the house. I could just imagine twenty intoxicated people dancing  in my house as it slowly slid off the cliff with the weight.

We have great plans for a spring renovation. It is time for the deck overlooking the cut that I have been talking about since we got here. Everyone and I mean everyone will be happy to have me shut up about “the deck”….  To give you an idea how annoying I have been… I asked Alison and Tim if they won the lottery would the first thing they would do be “buy the prime piece of Land on our island that is for sale.” They responded, that would be the second thing they would do.. First, would be to build me a deck…­čÖé

Once we finish our vacation here at the family house, return from Vancouver for Christmas and land safely back on the island after our January family road trip  we will sit down and once and for all plan the upgrade.

My “must have” for the Reno is to have a deck with a view of the cut where the majority of the nature channel is best viewed. E’s must have for the Reno is to have the best of all systems as perfectly and simply installed as possible. On this island perfect systems are the most important factor in a house.  I understand where he is coming from, I understand and accept how important systems are but in my heart… I can hardly friggin wait until I am standing on my new deck watching the sea lions raft 

directly beneath me.

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heart on it

We got on the 27 foot sailboat after work on a Friday night for the five-hour “sail” to this island. I say sail but the truth is, it was more often than not a motor trip with a wee 15hp kicker. It was 1982 and a week before┬ámy wedding. It was my first trip to this island. A weekend spent in a very small boat cabin with my husband to be and his Dad. Papa, as my eldest later named him intended to remind the groom of the intricacies of entering our harbour before he lent us his boat for our honeymoon.

You can imagine how nervous I was. Unfamiliar as I was with a father figure (didn’t have one) and completely unaware of how to relate to the strong silent type. Papa, love him never spoke an unnecessary word in his life. Instead, he would sit quietly until a moment of dry hilarious wit would burst forth from his stoic demeanor.

This island provided, over the years many such opportunities to get to know each other and indeed form strong bonds between both Papa, Guy and their new daughters and sons in law and their grandchildren. Adult children also benefited by relaxed conversation which naturally arrives over the campfire or while raking leaves side by side.

So often these days, conversation between visiting adult children takes place during a formal dinner. Grandchildren see their grandparents watching their weekend sports activities or for evening babysitting. A healthy dose of chopping firewood beside your Grand-Dad does wonders for the casual conversation which forges inter-generational relationships.

We were broke when we were first married. So after that first trip with my father in law, E and I spent most long weekends here on the island with him and Guy. Our young children grew up at first camping in the mud where the cabin now sits, and later endlessly cutting the large expanse of lawn/bocci court leading down to the ocean.

Last week our eldest brought his girlfriend to the island. Although they live together and have been together for two years, we really don’t know her. We had an awesome time raking leaves, sharing stories by the bonfire and teaching her our standard after dinner card games.

This island provides an avenue for families to grow and nourish and even heal.. Doesn’t matter which property you are on.. Our family will thrive by a future vacationing at our little cabin on the cliff. E has most definitely set his

heart on it


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To “No worries”

My children grew up watching Lion King and Land Before Time. I grew up watching the Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour and Gilligans Island. Two very different messages were delivered subconsciously to the young viewers minds. Our children also watched Mr. Bean, Perry Mason and Friends…I haven’t yet seen any evidence how those shows affected them. None of them are lawyers or idiots. They do in fact have friends but that would have probably happened even if they didn’t watch  Rachel and her pals. 

I tried to write a new blog post four or five times this afternoon. Instead I stared into space. Normally at this time of year I would be planning the garden, raking leaves for the compost, quilting or stacking wood with E. I haven’t even planted the garlic yet.  It should have gone in the ground at the full moon two weeks ago.

I am very behind in my chores. My son, who never worries about anything, ever, says to me.. “So this year, you will buy garlic from the store”.  He has never worried a minute in his life and has the attitude that “everything will work out”.. I know he’s my son (I was there when he was born) but sometimes I wonder. I am surrounded by a husband and three kids who don’t worry, ever!!! Not once did E ever consider the possibility that his medical issues wouldn’t be resolved. 

I envy their attitude and have absolutely no idea how to change sixty years of worrying and planning every single detail of my life to an attitude of calm faith that everything will be okay.

Sure, I have been able to free up my mind of most of my worries living here. It’s been a very obvious help to my propensity for sadness. But, old habits die hard and like a crack addict if I stumble across something to worry about I let it consume my life. That road runner was pretty obsessed too and he had a lot to worry about. Don’t get me started on pour Gilligan…

How my life would have been so different if I had grown up singing Hakuna Matata like my kids. Hakuna Matata for those who don’t know translates 

to “No Worries”


John has provided

After yet another scare with my ninty five year old Mom, she is back home again and so am I. Both of us lucky to have my siblings taking such good care of her that she was able to demand to go home so that she can “watch the election from my own living room.” After a lifetime standing on the front lines demanding equality for women she has no intention of departing this world before she sees a woman elected President of the United States.

I use the term back home loosely as I am not at my favourite happy place, sitting on the perch watching the sea life. We are instead on a winter vacation at the family home at the other end of the island. How we find ourselves here on an unplanned vacation is a long story, but as it turns out staying here at the larger house was more suitable to entertain our eldest and his girlfriend.

The weather hasn’t been the best but we were able to have a bonfire down by the waters edge and clean up some of the maple leaf carpet on the front lawn.. There are plenty more leaves to be raked up on the driveway and put on the compost and if the rain stays away this week I might get to it.. The garden is in desperate need of attention here, so maybe I will get to it.. Maybe I won’t.. I have a lot of quilting to do…

I don’t really trust myself with quilting anything important these days though. My mind is full of nonsense and I’m finding it hard to concentrate. I choose ┬áinstead to hide from the world, by the fire until I have my wits about me…

John has been clearing some land up by the Firehall and offered the wood to those who are willing to do the work involved in getting it to their homes.. This is a huge favour he is doing for all of us. Our eldest and E are there alongside everyone else bucking the wood. We need wood for our house and SoHo, you can never have too much. It would be ideal to have at least three years supply on hand.. Everyone and I mean everyone is appreciative and eager to fill their wood sheds with the abundance which

John has provided.