blessed with many

The memories come unexectedly. Maybe not as often as they did but they are never too far away. Yesterday, I was looking for a place to put the clean sheets in the bedroom of the bunkie. I opened the drawer to the quilt chest I am using as a bedside table and I was instantly taken back in time.

It was 1970 something and Mom and I were in Richmond visiting the mother of my sister’s friend. She was refinishing and selling antique furniture out in the yard of her rather run down looking property. Mom chose the quilt chest and I chose a small cabinet which to this day sits beside my bed. I call Mom’s purchase a quilt chest but it is a cabinet with a bar to hang a quilt at the back… Does that make sense??? I’ll show you a picture some time.

Anyway, to go on, as soon as I opened the drawer to the chest I could smell my mother’s perfume. She used to keep her dainties, scarves and jewelry in the cabinet and although it has been two years since she passed, she is there in the room with me. It was a welcome feeling.

This afternoon it was a song playing randomly from my playlist. Where do you go to by Peter Sarstedt.

I was young, very young and my sister and I shared a bedroom. Grandma and Mom each had a bedroom down the hall from us and my brother was in the basement. Apparently, my sister wasn’t always tormenting me because one night, laying in the dark, neither of us could settle and she sang me to sleep with that song.

Years later when my Grandma had moved to a “home”, there was a brief time when my sister, mother and I all lived together. I was maybe twenty? On the night I remembered we had gone to bed, each of us alone in one of the three bedrooms stretching down a long hall in a silent house. I don’t remember if it was the night my dog had died, or maybe we were worried about Grandma, but none of us could sleep.

Picture it if you will. It wasn’t an enormous house but a fair size. All of the lights were out. There was complete silence until Mom called out into the dark, “Alabama”. My sister responded with “Alaska”. “Shit”, I thought,” Ok, I’ll play, Arizona” And so it went. Three Canadian women reciting American States alphabetically, John Boy Walton style in the dark, to take our mind off the day and try to get to sleep.

I spent the week with my granddaughter reading the book Mortimer just like my Mother did with my sons. Every time I did I could hear her voice… Mortimer be quiet!

To quote Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember.

Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories

but I am

blessed with many

with each other

Yesterday I spent the day out on the property cleaning up… All unused lumber could finally be moved away from the construction zone. The table saw could be put away and the sawdust spread around the forest. The daffodils I planted last fall are starting to come up around the site. It’s almost as if I planned their display. Then, of course the best part, I burned up all the extra crap in a big burn pile.

We started the house reno three years ago today, and the bunkie project on Mother’s day last year. The few things we have left to do on the bunkie should be accomplished in April with no problem. But for the next month or so we will enjoy the tidier property for the first time in three years…

The flower portion of the garden by the pond is relatively free of weeds and ready for spring. The vegie portion is covered in weeds but there is no point in me weeding as they will just grow back before I am ready to plant. I’ll turn it all over in April.. Although unsightly, no harm to it.

Although, I want a greenhouse and it wouldn’t cost much I think a roof to the studio is more important at this point. Our next project when we get two cents together will be to replace the roof on the studio. Right now you can see the sky when you are inside looking up.. Usually not a good thing in a roof.

There was a time when we first moved here when we read most days… especially in the winter. E was saying today he didn’t think he has read a book in two years.. I am not far off, since all of the renovating started in 2017……

Yesterday, after a morning installing a down pipe for rain water catchment off the bunkie, E went down to the house to get some rest. He has a cold which he picked up from our darling little germ carrying granddaughter. I stayed up at the burn pile for three or four hours just to sit and stare through the flames to the ocean. No one is currently anywhere near us on the island.

Other than the birds in the trees around me and the sea lions puffing as they passed our house, and of course the crackling of the fire, there was silence. It was heavenly.. Honestly, these days, if E and I have a moment to sit still during the day, we don’t need a book, or a radio. We take those opportunities to engage with our surroundings and truly appreciate how fortunate we are to share this life

with each other

The sun rises

Family gone. Great week, great weather and the Nest passed inspection. Apparently, the shower even had great pressure. Whew. Back to life with just us two.

E and my son built a wee deck to access the door to the nest from the landing where the green house will sit. E then made some flower boxes with the left over deck boards. Hopefully, we won’t lose too many people off the edge if there are flower boxes around the perimeter. Will have to fill them with herbs like sage or rosemary instead of petunias or the deer will consider them feed boxes.

Then, they hung the gutter on one side and tomorrow when the down pipe is connected, it will send the rain water from the roof to a 500 gallon tank next to the garden.

We have two weeks to get the property tidied up before our trip or more importantly, before our friends move in for their house sitting duties. Certainly, a thorough spring clean is in order for both the house and the property. With the bunkie kinda finished a lot of the unused wood can now be stored away until greenhouse building time. It doesn’t need to be scattered around the driveway any longer.

The problem is trying to find somewhere to put it all. If only we had a huge storage shed/studio where it could be stacked. Oh right we do.. but it’s filled with god knows what and the roof leaks… next project……

So the kids had two recommendations in their yelp review of the bunkie. One was that it needs somewhere to put their stuff when they are here. The bedrooms are only big enough for the bed so maybe storage bins under the mattress. The other was that the bedrooms need curtains. Apparently, they tell us, not everyone wants to wake up when

the sun rises.

all for it

We have been busy kids getting the “nest” ready for our weekend guests. The flooring is in. The heater is up and working. We have the on demand hot water running. We have even poured concrete this week for the soon to be front porch. You know you are near finished when you are hanging paintings, shower curtains and bird feeders.

We were in town yesterday for Dr. appointments, lunch at Tania’s and dog grooming. Piper’s hair has been out of control now for months but I didn’t have the heart to cut it while the temperatures could still drop below zero. Some days he was having two baths as we tried to make him decent for indoor living. I couldn’t stand it anymore. Yesterday was the day. I am quite aware that he is cute as the dickens with long hair and he now has to wear a flannel coat to keep warm.. But he is sooooo much nicer to cuddle!!!!

We stopped at Carter’s so I could buy clothes for my granddaughter. I get so few opportunities to buy her stuff and she is coming tomorrow!!.. Popped into Shoppers Drug for travel items, sun tan lotion and the like and as we were paying we passed a Valentine’s display. You know, roses, chocolates, romantic cards. As E paid for his bug repellent I pointed out the red roses and asked if I could have roses… He looked at the roses, looked at me and said sure.. “Give them a sniff and then put them back.”

This will be our fortieth Valentines Day together. Apparently, the fortieth anniversary is “bunkie” and I am

all for it

somewhere near here

I have changed our vacation reservations several times. Then we rearranged them and changed them again and again…. over and over. Leaving this island, coronavirus or not is a giant pain and I am unlikely to consider travelling again any time soon. My friends and family will no doubt be happy to know we are now set. I hope.

I went to town today to buy summer clothes. Nothing nicer on a rainy cold February day than taking your clothes off in an unheated dressing room on a rainy cold February day. On the up side, everything was on sale. Considering everything I own is made of denim or flannel, colors of black or plaid, it was quite something to buy white pants.. White!!! First time I will have worn white pants since 1975.

I have no idea what I will do with them after the vacation. Maybe clothing for a rather chubby scarecrow.

After shopping. I met up with nine of the island women for lunch in town. Nothing is ever what I used to consider normal when these island women get together. As expected the food was insanely good and the talk often wandered to deer fencing and quilt projects. What was unusual was the background sounds made by ten baby chicks sitting in a box in front of the fireplace. They are on their way to the island for a summer of egg laying but aren’t quite big enough to weather our island temperatures. They will stay in the city for a few weeks where it is easier to keep them warm. It was quite a welcome sound, the wee ones chirping. Fortunately, chicken wasn’t on the menu, cause that would have been weird.

The flooring is finished in the “Nest”. Tomorrow E will begin to install the propane heating system.

We have lots to look forward to in the next few weeks and despite all of my complaining about organizing the details, we know we will have a wonderful trip. But if you are looking for me anytime after April, for the rest of my days, I will be

somewhere near here.

just move on

We will start with a small minor vent. No, not really a vent just a comment and a WTF to the state of women’s equality and the sad fact that despite the tireless efforts of my mother and all of the women before and after her.. We are not there yet…

I phoned a travel agent about an alternate trip to Mexico. I spoke to the travel agent on my cell phone. I made all of the arrangements. I used my email. I paid for the trip with my credit card. It was all me..!!! I just got the confirmation statement from SunWing Vacations… The lead traveller is listed as E … When I was younger I would complain but I have grown weary/resigned. I have passed the torch to my daughter.

The fascia is done on the bunkie on three sides. Side note we need a name for the bunkie.. If this house is the Perch.. ideas?

Today E started on the flooring for the main room of the ________? Our hope is to have the flooring and heating installed before our family arrive next week. They have promised to give the first Yelp review. I’m fairly certain all will be acceptable to them except for the furniture. It’s too big.. One day when we have the time and money we will need smaller chairs in the common room. We have used the old furniture from our house in Ladner and it is toooooo big..!!

E installed a new small 24 volt battery charger in our utility cupboard. Our Dutch friends donated a 650 watt Honda generator to our property. We can now charge our batteries without turning on the 7 KW Kubota diesel generator. This small addition will save us a bunch of money. The Kubota is a work horse and a great generator but it is kind of overkill for some of the simple top ups we need. Most times we have enough solar power to run the house and just need a little top up if it has been cloudy to watch TV or if I need to use the iron for quilting. It’s good for a maintenance kind of charge.

Another friend sold us her extra 6000 Watt Yamaha and once we get it working, we will have a back up for the Kubota. I don’t know how old the Kubota is, but nothing lasts forever. Good to have a back up and now we have two!

Ok, so funny anecdote of the day. We have always had Cocker Spaniels. Not the smartest dogs in the kennel but we have never wanted a dog who is smarter than ourselves. Traditionally our dogs will bark at new people on our property but that is because they are scared sh%^less. They are soft mouthed dogs. You can give them an egg to carry and they won’t break it. They never go looking for trouble and would never hurt another animal just try to scare it away from us. You know, to save our lives.

This morning E takes the dog for his 7 am walk. There is no one on the island right now so the dog is off leash.. They walk past Vics and head up dead truck hill on the way home. There, at the top of the hill beside the water tank is a huge buck with big antlers. He is standing firm at the top of the hill staring at E and Piper. Piper crouched down on the ground and gave little growl. A few seconds passed and no one moved. So E and Piper kept walking and just went around the buck.

Piper isn’t old enough to be resigned to his fate and he isn’t particularly bright. But he is smart enough to

just move on

all inclusive instead

Living on this isolated island with all of it’s joys and challenges, we often forget what baggage we arrived with and what natural limitations exist.

We have all the comforts of city living, electric fridge, lights and great internet service. So when I sit here in the winter planning my garden, it is easy to forget about droughts and deer and raccoons.. I have to remind myself to curb my enthusiasm.. The reality is, that it just isn’t worth the time and effort that it takes to grow crops like spinach. I would rather spend the water and effort on flowers, shrubs and trees….

We are addressing the gardening limitations with our rain water collection upgrade. The good news is that huge progress has been made since E fixed a few pipes and cleaned the filters.

On January 3rd we had 1400 gallons in the tanks. We had a small wager on what we would accumulate by today. E hoped for 4000, I was more optimistic at 5000. This morning we had….. drum roll please… 6200 gallons!!!!! We have now opened the first of two tanks in the garden to move 500 gallons down the hill. Fingers crossed we make it to our capacity of 8500 gallons by the end of February.

Yesterday, we had to deal with some of the medical baggage which we brought with us to the island. It is really easy to forget E’s medical issues when he is physically strong, rarely sick and resolutely optimistic. When he regularly climbs around on roof tops and lifts tree stumps, we can be forgiven for forgetting about his immune suppressed system.

We planned a three week trip to Asia to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his heart transplant. Anticipating every possible risky situation, considerations were made for all required safety measures. A nursing friend even gave us masks he could wear on the plane etc. We did not anticipate the Coronavirus.

The transplant team sent notification not to take unnecessary risks. Apparently a nineteen hour flight to Asia, and three weeks living with large crowds, often in confined spaces is, these days, risky. We aren’t normally people who freak out by “pandemics” but I figured if we went on the trip and he got sick or you know, got dead.. everyone would be mad at me and I would never hear the end of it. As much as we are able to ignore his rather serious medical baggage while we live here, it seemed pretty stupid to go on the trip as planned.

So now we are going to a Mexican

all inclusive instead