He was here

Work has begun on the new peony garden. Some of you might remember last spring, in a desperate effort to find more garden to plant, I dug up what I thought was a shallow bed of Bearded Iris, only to find an actual garden bed full of soil. The bed has been dug out now and the iris transplanted about the garden as well as shared among friends.

Today I divided most of my peony and planted 17 plants in the new bed. There are white as well as a variety of pink shades. The plan is to intersperse a few blue ground covers amongst them tomorrow as well as some of the Bearded Iris. Then I just have to cross my fingers and wait til June to see if my vision worked. In two or three years they should all be well settled into their new home and happy.

We try to limit trips to town over the winter to once per month and we have the supplies (wine) to support that plan, but veggies are always a struggle. Frozen pasta sauce full of veggies is a staple, but today I planted winter kale, swiss chard and lettuce to augment the menu a bit.

I am proud to tell you that we had lazy cabbage rolls for dinner tonight. (Layer the sliced cabbage instead of rolling it) Normally this would be nothing to brag about but for the first time, this year, I grew cabbage successfully. So tonight’s casserole was made with my tomatoes, my garlic and my cabbage. All started by seed grown by me, the once city girl.

Walking down the driveway to the house, after my chores were done in the garden, there was the unmistakable sound of a whale in front of the deck. One lone humpback passing by. The photos aren’t exciting but prove

he was here

works for us

The harvest from our wee fig tree this summer was up from last year’s 18 to 32. Figs aren’t something we normally would use or buy so I had no favorite recipes where I could use them. I did find one for a fig jam using ingredients readily at hand. Figs, check. Merlot, check. Rosemary, check. Simple recipe and everything I needed is home grown or made. By noon we were done our day’s project with thirteen 1/2 pint jars of fig jam as our reward. Thank you to our Okanagan family for giving us the tree.

The final count for our plum tree is in. Three. The raccoon got one and E and I will each get one.

To emphasize what a wet and late spring we had. I would just like to mention that it is unheard of on this island to have green grass in September.

Crazy winds today. Very glad we have no need to be on the water. I have tried before to take pictures to show stormy seas but they never adequately show the enormity of the waves. You are going to have to trust me on this one.

I need to talk water for a minute. I won’t blame you if you leave to maybe come back another day.

We started the summer (July 8) with 7000 gallons. Over the summer we have changed the 250 gallon hot tub water three times, had weeks upon weeks of family visiting (showering), power washed the deck to stain it and watered the garden liberally. We have made it through the summer without any restrictions and used our water like we were in the city. Summer is over, the plants have all thrived and we still have 1000 gallons in the bank. Rains will start up fairly soon and those tanks will refill in no time. Having water, makes life so much more pleasant, all around.

What a difference from last year. We started last July with 3500 gallons. We scrimped and saved every ounce. No laundry, minimal showers and limited dish washing. We lost a ton of plants and were down to about 500 gallons before the rains started. It was brutal.

We have an idea of what we would like to accomplish this winter and I can tell you honestly it is going to be different. I have cut back on all of my usual obligations with only one or two items remaining on my to do list. E’s usual chore list is drastically reduced with no big projects on the horizon.

The island is emptying. Friends are returning to their city lives. Our children have returned to their responsibilities. Life for us has been quiet this summer but will only now get quieter. We have found an easy rhythm to our days which

works for us

red rubber ball

Last night the wasps were gone, the mosquitos were gone and the strong winds had stopped. So we sat out on the deck late into the night, looking at the stars and playing song tag.

Song tag, if you don’t know the game, just needs two phones with links to Sonos and unlimited song availability. The rules are simple. Turns alternate and when it’s your turn you have to have the next song, any song of your choice queued up to play before the current song is finished. I have to admit a certain lack of orginality in my song choices as I have nowhere near the music knowledge of my usual opponent. I often return to my Bob Seger favorite, Turn the Page. E’s choices are more eclectic but often return to a Mark Knopfler theme. Our choices often prompt discussions of great concerts and old friends.

We celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary this summer and, as we have been together this long with limited funds for entertainment or travelling, we long ago learned to entertain ourselves for the price of a couple of bottles of cheap wine. One day I will tell you about Friday night scrabble, house rules.

Although we had a wet spring the province hasn’t been spared a forest fire season. It is just later than normal and right now the area around Hope is having a tough time. The smoke from several fires in the area is coming straight down the valley and across the waters to us and sits now over our heads. Weather advisories were issued today for poor air quality. The sun looks surreal.

Like most of you, we have lived our lives with music playing in the background and when we hear songs from the playlist of our lives we are immediately taken back to those times. Tonight, for me it wasn’t music but the image of the sun in front of us that took me back to a time singing a Paul Simon/Bruce Woodley song with good friends. This is for you Syd and Mary. “The morning (evening) sun was shining like a

red rubber ball”

listen to John

We had friends over for dinner the other night. I know! It was the first time in years that we have entertained. The weather was perfect and we were able to enjoy our meal outside. The wasps that terrorized us all summer have seemingly suffered communal death and we were able to sit out all night. Good riddance to them. I have to say it was nice to visit with friends. We will start slow. Two guests, whom we know are careful, was a great start.

Now, fair warning the video tonight is from the garden, so not whales, but technically still the nature channel.

I am probably not telling you anything you don’t already know but it is worth mentioning for the record that it was a strange year indeed, for gardeners in this area. The spring weather was cold and rainy, causing a very slow start to the growing season, not only for flowers but for the fruits and vegetables.

Somehow, the pollinators were confused and missed our fruit trees. Not sure how my neighbours made out but we have one plum and maybe six apples total on three trees. We had no tent caterpillars and I succeeded in what I thought was a stellar pruning job last winter, but still no fruit. I blame the bees. We intend to raise our own mason bees next year.

The flowers in the garden have never been so happy. I had tons of water (see the next post) and everyone was well nourished. Although everything flowered later than normal, they were happy and rewarded me with amazing bouquets. The roses and hydrangea were especially lovely.

The vegetables struggled with their slow start and with varying results. The cabbage production, both red and green, were great. Certainly more than enough for E. Peas and green beans were a waste of time as was the asparagus and spinach. Pumpkins are few and small but certainly enough for just the two of us. But the garlic, the garlic was awesome, and the figs, omg the figs!! So many figs off my little tree. The rhubarb too, we had two full harvests. The Brussel sprout’s success remains to be seen as they have until the winter to prove themselves.

I have struggled for years with an inability to keep garlic cloves useful long into the winter. I would go to the pantry for garlic in January only to find dried out bits. This summer, we added a food dehydrator to our kitchen arsenal. Armed with all the solar power a girl could want, I can dehydrate every day at this time of year from 12 pm-6 pm without affecting our systems. After sharing with three who like to cook, I am left with two quart-sized jars of the most gorgeous dried garlic. It can be tossed into any recipe for that heavenly taste long into the winter. In addition, I was able to save twenty heads of the garlic to replant plant in October.

But what about the tomatoes? They are late. In past years, I would have finished canning my harvest and more than likely would have their beds all packed up by now. But we have only harvested 14 pounds so far and I have just begun to cook my sauces. We moved four plants into the greenhouse to see how long we can keep them going for day to day produce and so far they are happy. I have pruned back the plants remaining in the garden leaving only the tomatoes on the vines. The hope being that September provides enough warmth to ripen most of them. Worst case scenario, I will pick them green and allow them to ripen indoors. Tomatoes will do that and it can be helpful if the temperatures cool suddenly.

In summary, although the weather conditions proved challenging we were able to grow plenty of food for the two of us. With the price of vegetables in the store these days, it is well worth the effort.

We aren’t prepared for a great deal of socializing just yet. Outdoor dinners with one or two friends or evenings at a bonfire are definitely what I can see us doing for a few months still. While most everyone else seems to have moved ahead, pandemic not withstanding, we are still cautious.

Now, please for a moment or two if you will, relax and

listen to John

must bode well

Thank you for all your kind comments and for welcoming me back into your homes. We have a lot of catching up to do so I poured a nice, cold glass of pinot gris, removed any restrictive garments and put my feet up. Comfortable in what is considered my official writing position, we can get to it. If you make it to the end of what will be the first of a few posts catching you up with what has been going on around here, there will be a couple of nice videos from last night which I think you might like.

E and I continue to remain Covid free. We still don’t really socialize and other than family we haven’t really hosted any guests in the bunkie for years. I can only hope that we will still have one or two friends who remember us when this thing is all over. Fortunately, the family has visited often. In fact, with one son deployed fighting forest fires and his wife swamped with art contracts, we were recruited to take care of their new baby, along with his sister, for two separate weeks. I don’t need to tell you how fun it was for us to have the eight week old and four year old all to ourselves for that kind of time. Along with regular visits from our other children, I will be better able to get through the next few months without seeing them.

With summer slowly disappearing behind us, our thoughts go to preparing for the winter ahead. Today, after dropping our son off at the ferry, we did a fuel run, Canadian Tire run, Andrew Sherets stop, a visit to the Spa chemical store and a big grocery shop. We still do our grocery shopping on line and enjoy the convenience of having the food delivered to the car. Today’s goal was to complete the freezer, pantry and gen shed needs for the next few months. Flours, sugars, and soaps are stocked up along with all our chlorine, oils and distilled water needs.

As our son wrapped up his visit last night we looked at the beautiful sunset and calm water and I said, “You usually have good luck with whale visits, It’s too bad you didn’t see one this time. Tonight would be a perfect time for one to suddenly appear”. He went back out onto the deck and sat down. I am not exaggerating to say that it wasn’t five minutes before we heard it. Whale! Sure, enough there were two in front of us. One close in to the deck and one in the middle of the channel.

If my goal is to bring you more stories from the nature channel than endless water and tomato updates this winter, then last night’s visit

must bode well

you fair warning

Ok, I have had the summer off, taken a break and am thinking I will resume the blog for the winter. I discovered that the website is paid for until next March anyways, so I might as well be using it. Thank you again, to all of you who helped support the site.

To be honest, I have missed talking to all of you.. There are about 300 readers who follow fairly regularly and some of you actually comment to let me know who you are…

One of the reasons I was frustrated and took a break in June was a comment I received that “they had heard all my stories two or three times before” so therefore.. yada yada yada, never mind. The implication being I was a silly old woman endlessly repeating herself. Hurt my feelings. Whatever, it’s done.. I took them off the distribution list.

So if any of you are tired of reading my stories, please do leave. I won’t stop you. Off you go.. But in the near future there are going to be lots of posts of how the garden progressed over the summer, how our water held out, wildlife sightings and what we have planned for the winter. There are bound to be updates on E’s chore list as we progress and with any luck the nature channel will entertain.

There will be plenty of sunset pictures but please be aware, I am likely to be talking about topics you have heard all about before. I give

you fair warning….