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.

day every day

I am fully aware that it is annoying for me to be this content during a pandemic. Do not judge me but I am just about as happy as a kid can be. My vegetable seeds arrived and, in my mind, the greenhouse is finished, the temperatures are milder, the winds are calmer and my seed trays are ready to be planted. It is March and a summer of bounty awaits. In my head.

Our son went home today. It is just the two of us left, along with two dogs, a full pantry and a growing, albeit undemanding, to-do list. Thank goodness for the bunkie. If it weren’t for it there is no way our son would have been able to stay so long. We set up the extra bedroom down at the house as an office and he was able to work from there. We weren’t really expecting the bunkie to be occupied at this time of year so it wasn’t as warm as I would have liked. The 11,000 btu propane heater used 40 lbs a week to heat the 320 sq. ft building. A wood stove wood have been better but it is a very small cabin, so at what square footage cost?

The day our son arrived we saw whales out front of the house. Not close in but they were there. The two times he arrived, in the last year, Orca arrived on his first day. He is a good luck charm. On the 21st of December we also had an amazing visit from two humpback whales. They came up under our deck and I mean right under our deck.. It was gob smacking. No pictures, sorry. I will be ever so grateful to the nature gods if they could continue entertaining us this winter with visits from these gorgeous animals. I promise to keep my camera at the ready for you.

The rains have been biblical this week and not only are our tanks full they are over flowing. On Jan 2nd there is 40-50 mm more rain expected. Honestly.. I need more tanks!!!!!!! Heads up I am going to be harping on this for a while until E gives in just to shut me up….

What is on our tiny to do list you ask? Well…….. We need to prune the fruit trees, split the firewood and have a big burn pile to clean up the resulting debris. We need to build the greenhouse, upgrade our septic system, weed and mulch the garden for spring, finish some research for an article I am writing, write and produce the island newsletter, finish the two quilts I have started and complete my share of the squares for the island fundraising quilt. None of it is urgent. All of it on our own schedule and all of them are jobs which we want to complete. After all, we can’t drink wine and eat cheese and crackers all

day, every day

that an oxymoron

A year in review. In the same theme as my summary from previous years. Here we go. This is for my own records you can read or not.

Guest nights – We had the same number of guest nights as last year. This includes the nights when our friends took care of the house in March when we went to Mexico. We were very fortunate that our children were able to work from home and isolate before extended visits with us. Our granddaughter was here 22 nights and one son was here nineteen. Our daughter was here fourteen nights and another son eight. Normally our children would have other places to spend their vacations and, although we missed having our friends visit, we kinda didn’t hate the unexpected extended time with our adult children. I could call it a covid benefit.

Off Island – We were off island for nine days in total. Eight for the trip to Mexico which was supposed to be a fourteen day trip to Mexico which was supposed to be a twenty one day trip to Asia. Then we needed one night enroute to pick up the puppy. There were no Cardiologist visits to Vancouver. They were all held over the phone. Last year we were off island for sixteen nights. Fewer requirements to leave the island this year? Again, a covid benefit?

Health – We had plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of E’s heart transplant in Singapore. We rebooked the celebration to a dinner in Mexico followed the next week with a family dinner in Vancouver. As it turned out we spent it alone on the island, quietly, and with great respect to the donor family. Our collective health continues to be excellent due, in no small part, to the safety this isolated island provides us. That same isolation also provides us a mental health cushion from the pandemic reality. A Covid benefit?

The Garden – The garden was a great success. Tons of tomatoes, peas, carrots, and pumpkins. I am enthused to plant even more vegies this year. We had fewer apples this year and no plums. We need to do better pruning next month. Fall canning provided a wide variety of food for the pantry. The antipasto is incredible. I would definitely do it again and next time try to grow vegies specifically for the recipe. Maybe in 2022.

The three hundred daffodil bulbs I planted last fall gave us a great spring garden. I want to grow more herbs on the deck and maybe more roses. A recommitment to growing more of our own food has prompted a renewed need for a greenhouse. A Covid benefit?

Population – We have increased our family by one dog. She has the same mother as our other dog and he has welcomed her with unexpected enthusiasm. Was feeling the need for an additional puppy a Covid benefit?

Water – We are full, full, full. For the first time ever. We have 7000 gallons up top, 1000 gallons in the garden, 350 gallons under the deck and 30 in the hot water tank. Baths are a welcome addition to our daily routine. I am currently lobbying for more tanks up top. Seems to me that if someone (E) eventually wants a hot tub he should be more agreeable to increasing our storage capacity.

Wildlife – No herring spawn this year. We had an incredible experience with a humpback whale who seemed to take up residence in front of our house during the spring. We had never really seen one here before. His daily visits lasted for weeks. Perhaps his comfort in our local waters was a result of the reduction in boat traffic across the closed border. Visiting humpback whales, a Covid benefit?

So far E isn’t able to take any of the approved vaccines so I can’t imagine our time spent here being much different for a good long while. I anticipate the year ahead to be very similar to the last one. We have a nice routine going on and, if anything, we are more prepared than we were last March. We will spend our time watching for whales, building a greenhouse, and growing lots of our own food. If anything, the benefit of the Covid pandemic response restrictions has been a reminder of how truly lucky we are to be living here together in these times. Covid benefit: is

that an oxymoron?