the white pants

We have a Scottish drying rack to dry our clothes which is suspended from the ceiling of the guest room. If we hang our clothes in the morning in our guest room, they are dry the next morning. It works well and has proven an electric dryer to be a needless power expense for our solar power. We wash our clothes in the winter in hot water, always hot water. Any pretense of washing in cold to make clothes last longer or preserving fabric color is a waste of time. As is separating light clothes from dark.

Our clothes are all darks. There are no whites and no “daintys” We have dark black clothes, we have dark plaid clothes, we have dark blue clothes and we have jeans. We have work jeans, and old jeans and stained jeans. We have clothes we wear when we fish, when we paint, when we garden and when we work with diesel. The days of white clothes are over for us. When and if we ever go to town we spare no effort to put on our cleanest of plaid shirts and bluest of blue jeans

So let me say this about that.

We are currently in the middle of season two of the four seasons of TURN on Netflix. Now for those of you who haven’t seen it, it is about the American Revolution. British red coats vs American blue coats… and all of them in white pants. White pants! In 1776, with no luxuries of washing machines or bleach these fellows are all prancing about in white pants. White pants!!!! It defies logic.

I am close to having the island newsletter finished and close to having my quilt squares sewn for the island raffle quilt. At that point I plan on spending a good portion of my time sewing another quilt like this one until I can get outside to the garden. Then, all day every day, I will be in bliss puttering in the garden and my new, soon to be built greenhouse.

One of my vegetable experiments this summer is to grow onions from seeds rather than sets. I planted them last week and there are already signs that they are alive and coming up! It is all very exciting. To grow them from seed saved a bunch of money and I will be more than pleased if I can pull it off. Still no sign of the garlic coming up

I cannot tell you how meaningless things like spiffy white clothes are to me since we moved to the island. If clothes are clean, I am happy. Practicality in all things is more important than anything these days and yet here I am discussing laundry with you. How freaking boring is that? But after a nice bottle of white wine it seemed imperative than I express horror at

the white pants

so be it

There are a lot of new people on the island. Properties are selling left and right. Empty lots, rustic cabins, beautiful homes with all of the amenities but all of the properties will have their issues. We are off grid and stuff happens. It is a difficult time for new people to arrive to an island with no services. It is hard to meet new neighbours. Normally there would be community events where the hand of friendship could be offered. Advice freely given, bodies willing to help.

It is not without irony that we find ourselves these days with too much free hot water.

Although the freeze which was predicted for the weekend never materialized and we have no snow, it is colder than I would like and so we burn our precious arbutus firewood. It burns very hot. Very hot is great when the house is cold, and I appreciate the comfort it provides. The stove, as it burns the arbutus, heats not only the house, but the water in the attached range boiler, very quickly and very hot. As a safety measure, if the water gets too hot, a pressure/ temperature valve releases and the water boils over onto the ground under the house. E hasn’t replaced the over flow pipes yet since the whole pipe melting episode the first month we installed the range boiler. So if we burn the fire too hot, and don’t manage the water use during the day, the water is wasted. Ideally the overflowing hot water will flow into the storage tank under the house, but for now it just flows out a pipe under the house.

Burning arbutus in the stove is a fine balance of keeping the fire hot enough to keep the house warm and using all of the hot water we produce, before it boils over. Regular baths are a great solution as is dish washing and laundry. It seems extremely reckless to be running the laundry so often but if we didn’t, the water would be lost anyways. Fortunately the rain continues so our water reserves are not in danger. By the time the rains start to slow we won’t be needing the fire quite so hot and the whole problem will go away.

Every season on this island there are different problems and every season there are opportunities to solve those problems creatively. If you aren’t willing to think outside of the box, and try to solve the challenges yourself, you are going to have a difficult time living here. Hard as it is to meet them during these difficult times, there are lots of neighbours willing to help the new property owners. It is the nature of most islanders but at the end of the day you are on your own and have to be willing to figure it out yourself. If your solution to a problem requires daily baths

so be it

the small shit

Cold weather predicted. Sub zero temperatures expected.

E brought a hose down and attached it to our deck tap. It is fed into the water tank below the deck. Tonight we will turn it on to drip into the tank below the deck. It will automatically pump back up to the reserve tanks if it hits 350 gallons. Water won’t be wasted but the chances of our pipes not freezing are increased.

It isn’t expected to get really cold but neither were -4 degrees predicted last year when most of us ended up with huge problems from a sudden freeze. We have taken the on demand hot water tank off the bunkie and packed it away. We have covered the pipes under the house in pool noodles. We should be fine no matter how cold it gets.

I spent the week filling the wood bin on the deck with the arbutus firewood we save for this time of year. It is so much heavier in the wheel barrow than fir, so I tend to carry a lighter load, lest I get going and can’t stop before I reach the cliff. Hard wood like arbutus is like gold in the fireplace for heat.

Grocery day today. Fresh fruit, veg, and milk arrived from a nearby island thanks to my neighbour, who does a weekly run. My pantry plan is going well. With the stores I bought in June we have been able to keep our bill under 50.00 per week. We are not fussy eaters.. E made a really delish shepherd’s pie and we ate if for three nights. We had two nights of a ham and now we are on day two of my pea soup. The house smells fab.

Pre-covid, we would be socializing with our friends and sharing our dinners so we didn’t have to eat the same thing for three nights, but this works too. As I said, we aren’t fussy and if I don’t have to cook, leftovers is one of my favorite meals!

It was an absolutely stunning day here on the water. Flat calm with sunshine, but it was cold. I don’t do cold. I got up at 230 am and it was 16 degrees in here. I lit the fire and at 6 am it was 18. I sat in my chair by the window under a blanket til noon when it hit 24 degrees. At the risk of sounding like an old woman, my arthritis was acting up….

E walked the dogs at day break, but with Piper’s shorn coat and Shanty’s baby fur, neither of them were inclined to go too far. All of us were delighted to snuggle by the fire for the rest of the day and dream of the spring days to come.

I do not understand why there is no garlic peeking out of my garden yet. It is the first time I have planted it in the bed I chose this year and it is the first time there has been no frost. It is a worry.

As evidenced on my spy cam there are four raccoons cavorting in my garden compost every night. Forget worrying about the electric fence not working, they are hoisting themselves onto the lower level chicken wire and squeezing through the 4 inch mesh of the upper main fence. Needless to say, a rewiring of the fence is planned with the new greenhouse build.

We have been binge- watching three seasons of Yellowstone on Amazon. A great way to while away the evening hours. Kevin Costner ranches in Montana and goes to great lengths to protect his land. I have empathy for him as he sits in a chair, on his deck surrounded by nature with no sounds of the city. Kevin and I are a lot alike in that regard however E and I have had to kill way fewer people on an average day and we haven’t yet dumped any bodies off Dead Truck Hill.

I was speaking, tonight, to the woman who lived next to me for 22 years while we raised our kids. I confessed that after 22 days, dry January ended for us tonight. Giving up wasn’t when I thought it would happen, to celebrate the departure of the moron below. His departure was celebration enough. No, it was tonight we decided that, after 22 days, enough was enough. We had made our point. My friend asked what made us open a bottle tonight?

I replied that the wood bin is full of arbutus, the water tanks are full, the pantry is full, and there is pea soup on the stove. We are warm, we are dry and we are together. We need to celebrate

the small shit

the nature channel

I expect the end of dry January will begin tomorrow morning the minute he gets on the plane and leaves Washington. I expect to begin my drinking extravaganza with Baileys in my coffee moving on to Champagne in my orange juice during the inauguration followed with a really nice red over a beautiful celebratory steak dinner. A selection of good riddance themed music will be playing on the stereo all day. There will be a collective sigh of relief and a ceremonial disconnect from the news channels on the television.

The opportunity for life returning to a semblance of normalcy for E and I isn’t very likely until Covid is under control next fall but the ability to spend our days unconcerned with the politics of our southern neighbours will be a welcome relief.

I am working on the island newsletter. Basically, this involves me sitting in my pajamas at the window drinking pots of coffee and wishing I hadn’t dropped my good eye glasses into the ocean. I am relying on cheap Costco reading glasses which cause me to go cross eyed after twelve hours looking at my lap top.

I received notification from a neighbour that there was a pod of six Orca coming up the island and that they were fairly close in. We dropped what we were doing, grabbed the camera and waited for their arrival. E got some great video.

At the end of the day, watching Orca play outside my door is infinitely more interesting than talking about, thinking about or watching American politics. Fully aware that we could have walked away from the dump show long ago, we didn’t and, right or wrong, we are grateful it is over. We welcome the respite.

E finished his wiring project with the generator remote start. Like most of the chores that need doing here, it didn’t take long once he got around to it. It isn’t the difficulty of the chores that are the problem it is the shear volume of never ending things which need fixing. But to be able to start the generator from the comfort and warmth of the house is a great chore to get off the list.

Tomorrow we celebrate the end of the worst reality show in history and prepare for the spring line up of whale shows on

the nature channel.

in our safety

As has probably become glaringly obvious by my recent absence, we are sixteen days into dry January. A really crappy tradition with no redeeming features what so ever. As you are all aware, I like to write with a glass of wine in my hand.. No wine = less writing. But E has hockey to watch tonight, I am too tired to finish any of the projects I should be working on and going to bed at 7PM is frowned upon by rational adults.

After an unfortunate incident with a firetruck and one of our apple trees we decided to use the opportunity to give a really brutal prune to all three trees. They had been getting too tall, providing lots of apples for the crows, not so many for us. The branches hanging over the salal were also useless. So E got out the ladder and his chain saw and channeled his inner George Washington . Theoretically, the trees will survive and look less horrid when they grow some leaves. A large apple crop this year might be optimistic but next year we should be rockin.

Cleaning up the apple branches has been a pain. Everything is just so wet and fires reluctant to burn for long. Our now functioning meter shows 88.00 mm of rain has fallen this month. Today was our second attempt at a burn pile, and most of the mess is gone. But there was very little heat thrown off. I would have stayed out but the dogs were cold. We were in by noon.

There is supposed to be a big freeze coming next week so the last of my carrots needed to be harvested. Probably fifteen pounds were still in the ground. A nice treat to be able to have fresh produce from the garden at this time of year.

On recommendation I watched Grow, Cook Eat on Amazon Prime video. Lots of good vegetable growing advice given with a gorgeous Irish accent. It got me even more excited about my spring garden plans.

E is bound and determined to finally fix the remote start wiring for our diesel generator before the cold hits next week. It hasn’t worked since we had the driveway put in six years ago. The generator is at the top of the hill behind the house and it has been miserable on all these rainy days having to go up the hill to start it manually when needed. Of course, as with all jobs, he was missing a few parts to finish it completely. They will come over next week with my sister-in-law (who also lives on the island) and he should have it done shortly after.

If you are wondering about the skeleton in the picture. That is Frank, and his dog Beans. The bin beside him is our drop box. Friends who have packages for us leave them in the bin. If we have something for a friend, we leave it in the bin to be retrieved. Strange times indeed but Frank appreciates the opportunity to be involved

in our safety.

just in case

I honestly can’t remember when we have had this much rain for so many days in a row. November, December, and now January have been remarkable. We still manage to get out for a dog run early each morning. Timed just right ’cause the dogs don’t like the wet any more than we do.

A few years ago we installed a weather station off our cliff. It is hooked into the Weather Underground App and measures temperatures, winds, and rainfall. The rain gauge stopped working two years ago. Watching the wind speeds and temperatures has been entertaining but it was frustrating to not have any idea of how much rain has fallen, especially with the rains we have been having. E has taken the gauge out several times to clean, with no success, but at 2:24 this morning it started to work again.

snuggle buddies

I stopped at the garden to drop the compost in the bin. I think there is a herd of raccoons partying up there at night. They have made the most horrid mess. However, it is cold and miserable out and I did not feel like spending one more minute outside than I had to. Clean up will have to wait. I am guessing the electric fence has somehow become just a fence. Again, best examined on a nicer day. But we have moved the nature cam into the garden to see just how many of them there are.

Eleven families have groceries ordered this week from the community shop at the neighbouring island. In a normal year there are barely eleven people on the island. Started in March, it has been a great service and we have two of our neighbours to thank. Right now it is gusting 52 km with 9.3 mm of rain falling in the hour. These two guys are out there, in that storm meeting the delivery van at the dock, so that I can get some vegies. How kind is that?? Awesome….

When I was up in the garden I took a look around to see if there is any life showing on the plants I moved around in September. The honeysuckle is alive but no signs of life yet on anything else. Garlic isn’t even peeking its nose out yet. There is, however, one brave, beautiful gladiola still blooming.

Hard to see any whales out my window when the waves are so big but I am trying my best to watch for them as I sit by the fire,

just in case.