There was a time when I was the contact for my mother with Veterans Affairs. She had a pension with them and they provided amazing extended benefits to her, in return for her service during the war. Hearing aids, home upgrades after her stroke, etc. I called to let them know my new mailing address for her correspondence when we moved here but they would not accept a PO box. They needed to know my street address and postal code. Small problem with that – our house is nowhere near our official street address and we don’t have a postal code. It took a lot of convincing but they eventually agreed to take our longitude and latitude coordinates as my “address”.

With the going rate for a jumbo sweet potato, at the local Save On, sitting at $4.26, it seemed like a good time to try growing them in my garden. Sweet potatoes, unlike their name implies, are not grown like potato potatoes. It is a long process to grow them at home and, as described by a fellow gardener here on the island, it can be a labour of love. Instead of buying bags of seed potatoes from the garden centre, you need sweet potato slips to plant and they are expensive and hard to come by. I asked friends for advice and, of course, also asked the google and have come up with a plan, an experiment if you will.

In November, I bought two and left them on the counter at room temperature. In January I buried them half way in some damp potting soil, in a clear plastic container. Covered with a plastic lid they were left for the last month in the living room by the window. As you can see through the plastic container there are roots growing below the potatoes and slips beginning to form at the end. In time, I will be able to break off and plant those slips into individual pots in the greenhouse. In May, when the soil and temperatures are very warm, I will plant them in five 20 gallon grow bags and set them in the garden. They do tend to spread and trail about, so I am thinking I will place the bags in the flower bed to let the plants wander amongst the rose bushes. By September, in theory, we shall have sweet potatoes fresh from the garden, as I said, a labour of love.

E and Piper spent the last several days testing the path where the pipes will be buried up to the gen shed. If there are spots where there is no soil and only island, the pipes will have to lay on the top and be covered with rocks. It was a miserable job. Today, he is busy building stairs for the shed.

I may be a little rusty on my modern spycraft but I learned something new last night, when we watched a 6 part series, called “The Undeclared War”. It is all about cyber warfare, and yada yada yada, Russians bad, Brits good, but during the show they revealed that there is an app designed by a few guys in 2013 who were trying to find an easy way to direct bands, instruments and supplies to remote music venues and they called the app, “what3words”. The entire world is divided into grids of 3 metre squares and each square has been given a three word combination to pinpoint its exact location. Its uses are infinite. Ten years ago, I could have provided Veterans Affairs with the 3words to locate me in an emergency or, for more clandestine future activities, if I want to secretly meet a source in Paris I could plan a rendezvous at


Sea lions hanging about for morning coffee today

On the google

As a lot of my stories begin, we go back many years ago to the house where we lived for twenty two years as we raised our kids. Unlikely as it may seem, there will be a point to the story.

It was late on a Saturday afternoon, as we sat in our family room watching hockey when, in the middle of the game, the channel changed to Nascar racing. None of us are interested in Nascar racing so it did seem odd. I looked at he who controls the remote and he looked as confused as I was. He changed the channel back to hockey and the TV turned itself back to the Nascar race. This went on several minutes until coincidentally the hockey game ended and we turned the TV off to go pick up kids or make dinner or walk the dog or any number of other things more important to worry about with much more than a shrug and huh that was weird.

E finished the generator portion of the new shed and we got it moved down the hill to its new home. We put a shelf next to the gas tank so you can sit a gas can on it and use a syphon to fill the generator. This will save our old backs. The propane for our stove and hot water systems will be moved behind the lattice on the right, once it is painted black.

The wireless remote start on the generator hasn’t been working for the last week, so, now that the generator is permanently in its new home, E can spend some time figuring out just why not. There was no point in worrying about it while it was in the temporary shed.

What was the temporary generator shed is now permanently relocated next to the wood shed. Two kind helpers came to help us move it, in return for cinnamon buns. It wasn’t heavy but awkward for just the two of us to manage. E was then able to install some plywood floor boards and can now start moving the tools we have been lent/given out of my front hall, off the deck, out of the greenhouse and into the new temporary tool shed.

Our friend came over with his tractor to remove all of the metal debris left by the fire. Bags and bags of heavy, blackened metal. Ugh. It was a wonderful sight to see when he drove it off the property. Today it was craned off the island at the working dock into a barge to go to the metal recycler.

With all of that horrid mess now gone, we are left with a clean slate to work with.

Back to the channel changing story because now it’s relevant. We found out shortly after the mysterious event that the television remote in our family room and the remote for our Nascar loving neighbour’s den tv were somehow on the same radio frequency. They were able to control each other. Our Nascar friend is an electrical engineer and was able to reprogram his to prevent any such future happenings. That was the end of it.

We were reminded of what we refer to as the Nascar event last night. E tried to turn on the generator in its new shed with the remote, from our kitchen, only to have the new motion detector porch light turn on instead of the generator. Coincidently the new light was installed one week ago at the same time that the generator remote stopped working.

In the absence of our electrical engineer friend maybe we can find out how to change the radio frequency on a motion detecting light,

on the google

has to go

Years ago, E and I arrived for our weekly visit to his Grandmother’s house to find her burning all of her papers. Postcards and letters sent from her husband on the front during the first world war were now gone. She said “No one wants all this garbage” or words to that affect. We strongly disagreed and urged her to stop what she was doing.

Was it the idea that, perhaps one day, I might have a big house again to furnish, or the mistaken idea that my children would in any way be interested in items like antique Blue Willow platters, that I carried so much “stuff” with me here to the island. Nothing is as interesting as postcards from the front but some of the items are pretty unique. A pearl handled cocaine spoon from the early 1900’s is probably the most unusual item we seem to have inherited. Everything else we carted about for years upon years is pretty mundane and, dare I say, no one in the family wants.

We went to town on Thursday and had a perfectly miserable day. We do hate town days. E basically spent six hours driving up and down the highway. There are no two stores we needed which are located at the same mall. We came home with a few of the bits and pieces E needed to finish a couple of his current projects. A vent, trim and stain for the gen shed, a timer for the well pump, gas and groceries for the next month and the dogs got their hair shaved which is the only way to survive living with them here in the rainy weather and mud.

Post run naptime

The well pump now has a timer which automatically pumps water to the storage tanks twice a day for forty minutes. We are collecting 200 gallons a day just from the well. This is unheard of and probably due to the fact we haven’t pumped from the well in a very long time. This is E in the rain and mud connecting the wiring for the well pump after digging a trench for five hours. A job he is well done with and happy to see the last of.

I tried my hand at making pickled eggs for the first time. Yes, you heard that right. Hell might well have frozen over but apparently they are delicious. They can be eaten on their own as a snack or thrown in a sandwich or salad. I made these ones with Tumeric but I understand beet juice and chilis are also good ingredients. In two weeks we shall see. They can keep for a couple of months in the fridge so could be a good addition to winter emergency supplies in the future.

Almost everything we owned was lost in the fire. I look around now at the very limited storage space we are left with in the house, and at the knicknacks which survived simply because they just happened to be in the house at the time of the fire. I wonder how, if I can get over losing precious items like the family photos, can I really care if I keep the stuff now occupying the very limited shelving in this house.

Well the answer is, I don’t care, anymore. So, shelf by shelf, cupboard by cupboard I am going though it all and most of it

has to go

Sea lions greeting us on our return to the marina

had more interest

I searched on the google for someone who would be interested to know that the sea lions marked for scientific purposes had shown up at our door. The original person in Alaska who received the email I blindly sent out into the internet was very nice, and promised to forward the information to the right person.

This afternoon I received a note from a fellow in Astoria Oregon. It appears our sea lions weren’t in fact the ones I mistakenly identified as from Alaska but in fact from Oregon. His note reads as follows:

Your email found its way to me as we (ODFW) are the ones that marked the California sea lion you saw. X-63 was branded in Astoria, Oregon on September 3, 2015, and has only been resighted a couple of times since, also in Astoria on 1/30/17 and 4/11/19. He wasn’t a pup at branding so his exact age is unknown, but I suspect he is between 10-15 years old now. Thank you very much for sending along your sighting – I’m glad to know he’s still alive!

I stand corrected.

With literally hundreds of sea lions swimming past me most of the day, I wish I could describe to you the cacaphony we hear. The number of these sea lions is highly unusual. I don’t know where they are all gathering but it is somewhere close by because, good grief, the noise. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it. It beats the heck out of the sounds of traffic we lived with in the city.

E’s to do list has been replaced by his urgent list. With all of the rain we are getting these days we know our well would be at its most productive, and we didn’t want to waste the opportunity to capture any water we could pump. Reconnecting the well pump became urgent.

He took a break yesterday from building the shed to fix it. The wire connecting the well pump to the power had recently been damaged (fire) and was missing twenty feet. It was a fix E could make without spending too much money. He repurposed the old wire to the generator (recently replaced by a remote) to use on the well pump. He had to dig a five foot hole in the ground at the driveway to find the connection and, bingo bango bongo, we can now pump well water into our tanks again

So, today he was back at the gen shed project and finished installing all of the exterior Hardie Planks. On our next town day, we can pick up hardware for the door. After that, if there is nothing else urgent, he will begin to build a door, and then we can bring the generator down and install it in its new home. After all the trim is painted, he can move on to the propane project.

The seeds I ordered in early December are starting to arrive, which encourages me to dream about summer vegetables which don’t cost an arm and a leg. I am hoping to have a second garden plant sale this spring for my friends and neighbours who also grow vegies. This year I am thinking of opening it up to everyone, even if they don’t want plants. It would be fun.

I have chosen a tremendous variety of seeds with an eye on providing my friends with the various types of plants (ie. cherry, roma), that they seemed to want last year, while giving them unique varieties which perhaps they wouldn’t find in the local garden centres. In addition to fourteen types of tomatoes, I have cauliflower (three types), beans (three types), pumpkins (two types), beets (two types), cucumbers (two types), peppers (three types), brussels sprouts, celery, zucchini and much more. I can hardly wait to get going and visit with friends, old and new on a sunny day in the garden.

I really do like to make sure the information I give you is as correct as possible, although my knowledge of all things science related is nil. I have to say, I do regret my lack of interest in sciences in school. I can still hear the voice of my Biology 11 teacher making deals with me to leave the caf and return to class. “Moira, all you have to do is attend every day and I will pass you”. Perhaps, if instead of Biology 11, they had called the course tomatoes, sea lions and whales I would have

had more interest

the nature channel

I received a text from my friend, this morning, that there were whales in the area. To me, it was license to turn my chair to the window, pour another cup of coffee, and wait. Fortunately, it was pouring rain and no other work was likely to be attempted anyways. Two Orca showed up fairly quickly.

They were Biggs Orca, T49A1 and T49A2. A1 is referred to as Noah, who is twenty, and A2 is his sister Judy, who is fourteen. They were right in front of our house, but not too close at first. They appeared to be hunting, as they circled slowly, gradually getting closer and closer.

It should be mentioned again that we still have tons of sea lions around and they were likely what Noah and Judy had on their lunch menu. I stood on the deck with my phone set to Facebook Live, thinking if there was going to be a feeding frenzy, my friends would like to watch. It was, however, basically 18 minutes of ocean watching with 3 minutes of excitement.

As the whales got closer, I kept calling to the sea lions to get to safety. I really didn’t want to witness the killing. Circle of life, I know, but I don’t need to see it.

Suddenly the sea lions all started hitting up against the rocks on the cliff below us. The whales were pushing them, just like I have seen the sea lions themselves do to fish in the same spot. I was screaming at them to come toward us and scoot through the pass next to our house. The whales couldn’t follow them there. The video isn’t really worth showing you. Next time I will video the activity normally so I can edit it more easily.

In all the excitement, we spotted yet another Stellar sea lion with a marked number on its back. This one was X63. We were able to find him on the research data base. Do you remember when we talked about seeing X76 a couple of weeks ago? It turns out the two were marked on July 3rd 2000 on Sugar Loaf Island. Twenty-two years later the two boys are still travelling together and playing in the waters below my deck. The information I can find on their life expectancy indicates they are doing very well indeed to make it to twenty-two.

At the end of the event, the whales didn’t catch their lunch here today. I am actually kind of happy about that. It would have been disturbing to watch so close up, and how could I not watch if it happened right below us here on

the nature channel

His happy place

Our days have become complicated since the fire. Okay, let’s be honest, E’s days have become oh so very complicated. My days are spent trying to accomplish something, anything really, just to feel useful while trying to stay out of his way.

He started to build the new generator shed last week in between rain storms. During one such storm we took the opportunity to go to the big island for his regular blood work, and to pick up some tools which our very good friends have donated to the cause. They used to live here and now find themselves living in a beautiful new house with running water, heat, electricity and a complete lack of the daily challenges which would necessitate a sawzall or table saw. We appreciate their kindness.

On our way home from the city, as we arrived at the island marina, the shift control cable on our boat broke after thirty years of wear and tear. The engine then decided to stay in forward as we arrived at our slip. Yes, we hit the dock at full speed. It was all very alarming and, although no permanent damage to the boat, I am sure the marina managers will use the video in their 2023 highlight reel. Fortunately, I was able to brace myself safely. If I had been standing on the edge of the boat preparing to jump on the dock, which is normal, I would have been on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

New cables were ordered and a friend was able to pick them up and another friend brought them over. Another friend worked with my sister-in-law to install them. A reminder of how many friends can be involved in this “simple” life.

While in town we were able to pick up the remote for our new generator. We no longer have to go out in the dark and rain to start or stop the generator. We can do it from the comfort of our chair by the fire. It took E a day to install it, the supplier offered to install it for 960.00. E does earn his keep.

Another heavy rain storm prompted E to go under the house in the mud to disconnect the heat exchanger system he had recently installed for the hot tub. It wasn’t performing as we had hoped and the pump sound was annoying. It took him most of the day and he got just filthy.

There has been a lot of rain and the tanks up top should have been filling nicely, but this morning, when he checked the water levels there was very little water. We have a leak. After a couple of hours of searching we think we found it. We will know tomorrow. A two hour delay in the start of his work day on the generator shed spent checking the fittings on all of the pipes. Sigh, it is so frustrating.

Although of way less use than E, I have accomplished a few things. I cut back all of the clumping bamboo with a mind to divide it to populate The Crescent. I also pruned the apple trees and have spent a great deal of time staring at the Crescent trying to imagine what we can do with the space. At the moment it is very flooded and I have had to dig trenches to help it drain.

I have to admit all of the problems over the last month have led me to question, for the first time in ten years, whatever were we thinking moving here and, because most of the problems land on his shoulders, I have asked E repeatedly if perhaps a condo in the city is starting to look pretty nice. He just laughs and says but what would we do all day. He is in

His happy place