I need tonight

For the record, it actually did finally rain for a couple of hours yesterday. It really wasn’t very much but it is amazing what that little bit of water will do, for practicalities and the spirit

The garden tank which captures rain from one side of the bunkie is up 150 gallons, and the main tanks, which capture the rain off the house, are up 400 gallons, less what we used for our celebratory baths and laundry. I feel confident to say we survived the summer drought. Next week, after a few more days of rain, we will be able to wash the windows and give the house a much needed clean.

I had to test the pickles I made, today. It had been three weeks and I couldn’t wait one more day. They are fabulous and will only improve with time. Again, the preserves recipe book my son gave me, came through… Damn that Aunt Bea, I could have been making pickles for years!

Once the pickles were opened, what they needed was a bit of meat and cheese, a cracker or two and a little red wine…Before we knew it we were having my favourite dinner.

I didn’t sew today. I didn’t even get dressed til 3pm. It was one of those kinds of days. When I did eventually get up to the greenhouse, there was another dozen hot peppers to be picked. I wish chocolate was as easy to grow as Ring of Fire peppers.

Fortunately, my new neighbour took the peppers off my hands. She likes to cook with them. Between you and me, E gets a look of horror on his face when I come back from the garden every day with another handful of hot peppers.

We have the greatest new neighbours. We loved our old neighbours but when they moved they left their beautiful home in great hands. Among other things, the new neighbours are gardeners and great fishermen. They gifted us some salmon tonight. Honestly, we are so fortunate to be surrounded on this island by the nicest people. I am fairly certain that with a couple of gorgeous fish now hidden in our freezer, it will be that much easier for us to encourage our boys to visit. I am not too proud to use trickery and bribes to see my kiddos.

Fortunately our kids are vaccinated and willing to get rapid tested to come and see us.

My anti anti-vaxer post last week was shared and had more readers than any other that I have written. Even though I strayed off my usual topics, I received overwhelming support from all of the people I respect. I have been tempted to delete the blog and go back to my garden.

I thought long and hard today as I lay on the couch in my pjs watching the Vicar of Dibley, eating scones that E made for me. I came to the realization that I am so done with people who won’t get vaccinated and I love being connected to you guys, my readers, my friends and neighbours and even the readers whom I have never met. If someone doesn’t like my opinions, they can leave the blog. It is very simple… and I am not sharing a big secret here. If everyone doesn’t get vaccinated we will be fighting this pandemic for years. I am not going to quit writing.

As I write this, my view gives me the peace

I need tonight

life for short

Back to the calm happy me that you are all used to visiting. I normally have at least 220 readers for each blog posting. Lots of you have written words of support, both on the blog and on my Facebook page. One friend brought us new masks, one of the masks has an attached visor. It turns out all of our friends, appear to agree with us and are willing to ignore my bad language. In my defense, I have only lost my temper two or three times in nine years, which considering the times we live in and my opinionated self, is surprisingly good. So let’s move on shall we?

After we went all George Washington pruning our apple trees last winter it will come as no surprise that there are very few apples on our four trees. We are confident that next year we will have a great harvest on renewed and healthier trees. There are a few nice, big, Jonagold hanging out of the deers’ reach, which we will pick when we finish eating the plums, but there aren’t many.

Netting has been placed on the pond to inhibit eagles, heron and raccoons from picking up sushi dinners. We only feed the eighteen goldfish for another month and then they seem to happily hide at the bottom of the pond for the winter. The fish are seven years old and, even though every winter the pond has frozen at least for a day or two, the fish continue to survive. E does want to change the water before winter though, you know, when we have some water. He will put the old pond water in the garden water tanks for next summer. Fish poopage in the water is good for the veggies.

Rain was predicted for today so we confidently did a load of laundry. Rain did not happen today. Still not a drop. Tomorrow, again, we have been promised a shower or two.

The canning is finished and the garden is idling happily. I won’t have much to do up there until later in the month, when the plants have had a good water and are up for potential transplanting and pruning. Every September I play musical chairs with the plants trying to improve the layout while tossing out dead shrubs. With the stress they have all gone through this summer I might just wait until spring before I tamper too much with their drought starved roots.

The living room furniture has now been rearranged and the dining table set up as a sewing station with the best view in the land. The machine has been dusted off and the tools laid out for the opening of the annual winter quilting season. A baby quilt was started last spring but didn’t have the requisite batting and, as we all know, there are no quilting stores here. I also didn’t like my chosen backing so the quilt top has been sitting on my dresser glaring at me all summer. Everything I need has now arrived in the mail (thank you Mary and Amazon) and the baby was born last month, so it is time. Tomorrow, I pick up my seam ripper and put down my oven mitts and garden gloves.

I have an interesting new reader who is very nice and, theoretically, will replace the one that left me today. Her blog has an “about” bit at the top explaining who she is and what her blog is about. I used to have a blurb like that on my home page when I started but it was pretty redundant after I had been writing here for a few years. So I need a new description of the blog and explanation of who we are. One suggestion could be…..’If you don’t believe in vaccination, and protecting the vulnerable, read no further’ but I will give it some thought and maybe spend some time this fall redesigning the blog home page with an updated description. I am thinking, perhaps, it would be the simplest to just say this blog is about a day in the life, off grid, on an island with a heart transplant recipient during a pandemic. Hmmmmm,

or maybe I will stick with just a day in the

life, for short

be pissed too

It made me cry. I thought it would make me feel reassured and hopeful. But it made me cry and then sad, and then angry, and well then it made us both face our new reality. Again.

Warning, there may be language commonly found at a longshoreman’s bar. If you are easily offended… well, tough.

The day started as they all do. Up before the sun, pots of hot coffee and a long walk for E with the dogs. A few hours for the two of us to read magazines, do a cryptic crossword, watch for any whales in the neighborhood and then we were ready to start our day. My plan was simply that we might start prepping the property for winter. The weather apps are predicting rains on the horizon as early as next week so a few things need to get done.

E rolled up the carpet on the deck and tucked it into the studio away from the squirrels. He wrapped our big patio umbrella in a plastic sheet to protect it from the weather. The red umbrella gets moved up to the little deck off the guest room. The sun doesn’t get over our house to the main deck during the winter so we “move camp” to the winter deck. There can be a lot of sun on that deck year round, which is ideal for watching the winter nature channel. This picture was taken December first, last year.

I went to harvest the marigold seeds on the deck only to discover a squirrel has eaten half of them. If I had waited any longer there wouldn’t have been any seeds left. Don’t worry, there are still plenty. The seed pods are now drying in my living room. If I hope to eventually bring some of the geraniums into the house for the winter, first I need to bring them back to life. I cut out the dead plants and pruned out the sad leaves and gave them all a good soak. ( I decided to trade this week’s bath water allowance for the life of the geraniums.) Once the geraniums have a chance to recover from their recent stress, and before the cold weather hits, they will be replanted into clean pots and brought into the house for this year’s flower experiment. I, of course, explained to each plant that my plan was to give them new life, gave them a reason to survive if you will.

I finished up on the deck by moving the bird feeders and bath to the part of the deck I look at from my chair all winter. Their visits bring me great joy. As much money is spent on bird food around here as dog food. I honestly don’t know if it is because they so appreciate my efforts or they are just dumb but a day doesn’t go by when one or two doesn’t fly into the house.

In the summers we keep curtains up in the door ways to inhibit the frequency of the avian visits but honestly we don’t really want the curtains up year round. We hadn’t taken them down one hour yesterday when a little fellow flew in for a chat. We closed the window blinds to the living room, opened the door and he flew out. Today, I went out to water the geraniums and two seconds later a hummingbird flew into our house. They are quite tame. E just caught it in his hands and sent him on his way. I don’t know anyone else who has so many birds come into their house as we do.

So then it was 4 PM and we turned into the Zoom meeting we were scheduled to attend. It was an information session hosted by the BC Transplant Association for solid organ transplant patients regarding the Covid vaccine as it relates to the immune suppressed and their safety.

We had been expecting to hear that the third booster shot was going to be the key to our ability to resume activities like the rest of the vaccinated community. It isn’t. It might be an option soon but the heart transplant patients who have had difficulty are the ones who are on the specific meds that E takes. His situation is further complicated because the reason for his transplant in the first place has been identified as an increased vulnerability. A quick summary. Vaccinated as he is, he is safer than the unvaccinated but not as safe as most of the vaccinated and probably never will be. He is very likely going to get very sick from any COVID positive person who comes near him.

So our patience is done. Our only hope to a normal life again, is herd immunity because selfish jerks think they are oh so special. Specifically, the assholes who thought it was a good idea to block traffic to the hospitals yesterday, who think they have some great fucking reason to not get vaccinated. For those of them who think their commitment to some grand 5g microchip bullshit is more important than the lives of the immune compromised, I have absolutely no ability to stay polite any more. If someone had a choice and chose to put your husband’s life at actual risk you would

be pissed too

In my kitchen

Back in the day, my Mom had a friend named Paul with a gorgeous penthouse on the water in Victoria. Along the hall from the elevator to his condo he grew pots of geraniums in front of the windows, inside, year round. I copied his idea at our old house and in 2009 grew geraniums in my Ladner kitchen all winter.

We don’t feel like working too terribly hard these days but chores do still need to get done. September 1st and it was 12 degrees outside when we got up this morning with a balmy 17 degrees inside. We aren’t there yet, but it did make us think about preparing for mornings when we will need to light the wood stove.

I can be a messy cook and with the amount of use the top of our wood stove gets in the winter, it needs a good clean and repaint every year. There are always traces of cooked tomato sauce and soup on its top at the end of the season.

The stove chimney has now had its annual clean and the inside of the stove emptied, and outside repainted with high heat flat black spray paint. The new wood box which sits under the attached range boiler has been tiled to match the hearth and filled with wood. The boiler is full of water and is ready to give us free hot water all winter once the fire is lit. The wood pile on the back deck is full.

Which brings us to the annual plants on the deck. Few have been watered in weeks. Those I really care about are still alive, barely.

The beautiful white marigolds grown from last year’s seed will leave us with thousands more seeds for next year. The plants won’t hold it against me that I stopped watering them early and cut short their season. Anyone who wants these seeds can have them. They are easy to grow.

The deck geraniums have always spent the winters under the house. They aren’t watered or anything. They kind of go dormant. In the spring I bring them out, cut them back, and they return, healthy and happy for yet another year on my deck.

I’m sure you have guessed what I am going to do this year. Tomorrow some of the geraniums will be repotted and brought into the living room to hopefully survive and cheer up my winter. I figure there is nothing to lose and it is well worth a try. This picture was taken on Dec. 22, 2009

in my kitchen.

rarest of all

When we moved to the island in 2012, the previous owner of the our property told me that I was moving to a house on the nature channel. The problem with the nature channel is you never know when the show you like is coming on. I might have just gone up to the garden when a whale stops in for a visit down at the house or I might be down at the house when an otter cuts through the garden or the one I can’t believe I missed… A couple of bucks locking horns on our driveway in the middle of the night. The only way we knew what had gone on was to find the resulting scuff marks in the dirt by our truck.

But sometimes as luck would have it, something cool will happen when I actually have a camera in hand.

Like seeing a humpback whale standing on its nose, two Orca standing on their toes or one seamingly hanging mid air

Or catching two eagles kissing and another swimming with his salmon breakfast. https://studio.youtube.com/video/dGJB4pvqRMQ/edit

The weather forecasters promised us light showers last night for twelve straight hours. All three of the weather aps I followed promised the same thing. We did, however, not get one drop. I showered anyways. All indicators are that it is going to be a wet winter. Surely to goodness it will start soon. As little water as we are able to pump from our well, we are only using what we pump so are fortunately still sitting at 900 gallons in the tanks.

I spent the morning roasting my pumpkin to freeze for fall pies. It is one more chore done that I will appreciate on a dark, stormy October night. During the afternoon I spent some time reading old blog posts from Septembers over the last nine years.. It’s interesting in that it is always similar topics and similar worries. But what I also noticed is how far we have come. How many changes E has made to the property, especially to the systems. For example, we used to have to run the generator just to pump the well. Every day we turned the generator on, but now we have turned it on just once since March. The solar panels power the batteries which power the well pump.

If you get my blog posts in your email but want to read old posts on the main blog, ’cause maybe you can’t sleep, the older ones are interesting. Just go to deergarden.me and search your month of interest.

People looking to buy properties here rarely consider the systems. They look at the views and the wildlife and the privacy and the lifestyle and the relatively cheap prices but rarely consider the systems. We sure didn’t. But I have long held that this island is undervalued. You could buy a lot here for a reasonable price, some of them even have basic cabins on them and then with a whole bunch of money spent on systems you could still have a house with land and all of the bells and whistles for one quarter the price of a house on an island with a ferry. You just need a boat and be willing to problem solve. Again, it isn’t for everyone.

Properties which long stood unsold here for years have all now sold. Covid has prompted a lot of people to spend their vacation money locally. Some, who realized they could work from home, have bought beautiful properties here for the price of a one bedroom condo in town. At this point I think there is only one house for sale on the island at the moment. They don’t stay on the market long anymore.

We have had no cause to be disappointed in our life on the nature channel and part of the fun is not knowing when our favorite shows are going to come on. We never know what we are going to see and when we may get that perfect picture of something unusual. Today, I was able to get a picture of one of the rarest sights of all. E with his tools down, reading a book during the middle

of the day.

A good day

Now that the rabbits and I have come to an understanding on boundaries, E and I are more than happy to see them all bounding about the property outside the garden fence.

With the nearby ponds all dried up, as they are, we like to keep a water dish outside the garden for the wildlife. Most nights we have a selection of raccoons, ravens, deer and bunnies. I may not have water for the garden but I will always have water for the critters.

I spent the day in the garden. The last of the veggies have all been picked with the remaining plant material put on the driveway for the deer and rabbits to nibble. When they are finished with the leaves, anything remaining will go into the compost… It is unusual to pack up the veggie garden so early, but with little water, there is no choice.

At the same time, I moved the peppers into the greenhouse. Lettuce, spinach, carrots and peas have all now been planted in there. Perhaps I am dreaming, but the hope is to be able to have fresh veggies from the greenhouse well into the winter months.

We have an incredible volunteer fire department on this island. A fire hall was built by the community thirteen years ago and the truck we use now, was bought five years ago with the support of the BC Lottery gaming fund.

The volunteer fire committee has designed a distributed water system. Twenty-four 2000 gallon water tanks are placed evenly around the island to allow for easier access to water if a situation should arise.

The firehall is also fully equipped with the best of equipment for not only fire fighting but medical emergencies. Free fire fighting and first aid courses are offered to islanders through funds raised by community efforts like quilt raffles and, again, the BC gaming grant.

Old fire hose was donated to the firehall so E grabbed some of it. He spent the morning getting the hose sorted out and there is now 300 feet packed into a bin next to the tank. If needed, even before the fire truck should arrive, we could access 2000 gallons water, year round.

Finished the afternoon by picking the plum tree. Only 2.5 pounds left by the raccoons for us. We are happy though ‘cause when you think about it, how many plums do the two of us really need?

All in all, it was

a good day