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?

with better sleeps

When we finally packed away the king size water bed of our twenties we bought a fancy shmancy double bed with our first house in 1989. That bed lasted exactly 11 years. Not sure if it was the heart transplant or the old mattress which was making E feel worse in 2000 but I eventually had to take him into the Bay store in Richmond to look for a new one. He literally lay down on the first bed closest to the door and fell asleep. We bought that one. It was a queen, we had two dogs by then.

Ten years later we moved to the island and brought with us a new mattress from Costco. It lasted exactly 8 years and four months. It is not so easy to bring a mattress to the island especially in these days and these times. Thank goodness for mattresses which come in a box. I would (without compensation) like to endorse the Zinus mattress in a box from Amazon.

We originally purchased a Zinus double mattress in a box for the bunkie. It was $333 and came four days after we ordered it. My son tried it out and approved so we ordered a second for the bunkie’s second bedroom. I was making the bed with the new mattress and promptly cuddled up for a nap….. hmmm not bad.

We hadn’t really budgeted for a new bed at the house but this summer, when I wasn’t feeling well and sleeping on the couch ’cause the bed was horrid, E took pity on me and ordered us a new queen sized mattress in a box. Honestly, maybe we have been sleeping on rocks for so long that our bar is really low but these mattresses are awesome. A queen sized mattress arrived in a box, four days after ordering it, for a grand total $394. Simple wheel barrow trip on and off the boat and down to the house. It expands over three days to twelve inches high and becomes deliciously firm. Maybe not for a million dollar city mansion but for a house on an off grid island and less than $400, even if it only lasts five years instead of eight, I will be happy.

Lord knows we are once again happy campers

with better sleeps.


to howl yet

Oh man, I tried so hard to make this weekend special for E. Back in June I started planning a three week trip to Asia. At one point we were going to spend the 20th anniversary of his heart transplant in the spa on the cruise ship. Then, after we renewed our vows in front of the Ship’s Captain ( I know, corny right?) we would have a four course dinner on the balcony of our suite floating somewhere in the Straights of Malacca, served by our personal butler. But life happens and in the grand scheme of things we are just grateful to be healthy and together.

We know there are young couples out there who may have to reschedule their weddings, high school grads looking at their formal dresses knowing they will not have a prom and of course those out there who are worried about their friends and family with the virus. It just sucks. But you come here to read about living a life off grid as a recipient of the gift of life. So we will stick to that topic.

I have added a new tab on the right hand side of the front page of the blog with the title Heart Transplant. In theory, you can find all of my transplant related posts through that link. Some are pretty good, usually the ones written around the anniversary date. I am honestly torn this year. Although I want to again give recognition for the tremendous gift we received and tell you how much we appreciate the donor and all of the support we have received over the last twenty years. But then I worry it could be a little self involved considering the world as we know it is changing and none of us know how it will turn out. This anniversary is perhaps insignificant.

I know that twenty years ago tonight we got the call that a new heart was available for E after waiting months on the list. He was running out of time. Now he sits beside me playing with his guitar, in front of a giant window over looking the most beautiful view a girl could imagine. The dog is laying at his feet. The progress he is making with the guitar must be pretty good because the dog hasn’t been driven

to howl yet

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

E, the beaver and me

Everything we want to remember about 2019 could be a pretty boring blog post, but the information needs to be humbly recorded for the future benefit of mankind.


With a capacity of 8500 gallons we never got past 6000 stored in the tanks. If the day should ever arise when we collect more than 8500, we will add more tanks. There is no such thing as too much water in storage. We end theyear with 1600 gallons stored which is water we caught in December. We were out completely at the end of November.

Our rain water catchment system is fully functioning with a successful water filtration system. We can now drink both the water from our well and that which comes off our metal roof.

The water boiler attached to the wood stove is working great and we are able to turn off the propane on demand system when there is a fire burning.

The Garden

The pumpkins were great this year. The tomatoes were only so-so. The flowers, pond and fish were fabulous. Unless we start getting more water saved, the garden will continue to frustrate me. I have committed to growing more flowers and fewer vegetables. I planted 400 daffodil/hyacinth bulbs and if the squirrels don’t get them all, it should be very pretty around here next spring.

After the drastic pruning measures taken last January, the roses were the prettiest they have ever been, the plum crop was abundant and there were more apples than we could manage.


We had a great year health wise. No kidney stones for either of us. No migraines and no arthritis flair ups. Fewer heart transplants, shoulder replacements or metal plates installed than previous years. I suspect the dieting helped, with a combined sixty pounds less of us. Healthy eating…. Who knew?


We had 76 guest nights this year. Most of those guests paid in full with their labour working on the bunkie. Our granddaughter was here ten nights and honestly, she really doesn’t keep up her fair share of the work load. She has other redeeming qualities.


I was off island for sixteen nights. Five for our trip to the States and the rest for our recent Christmas trip. E was off island two more nights than me while he went for his checkup at the Transplant clinic.


Our brother in law milled fir so E could finish the window sills in the bedrooms and bathroom of the main house. The siding is also now complete and stained.

After Easter with the kids it occurred to us that perhaps it was time to entertain building a bunkie for our growing family. With much dithering we decided to go ahead with the project. The cabin still needs the flooring, back porch and front deck rails installed. The siding is almost finished but needs some staining.

We can not decide on how we are going to heat it. Originally, we were going to put a propane heater against the wall. We have changed our minds. (We change our minds a lot and that is part of the reason nothing ever gets finished here)

The current top contender is to add an alcove to the existing bunkie structure with room for a wood stove. This will require going backwards. We will have to cut a hole out of E’s beautiful wall. We have scheduled making a final decision for next week.


With Sami’s death in February, we are down to one dog and will stay with just the one. We have a family wedding this year and another child now co-habitating so our numbers are growing. The bunkie really couldn’t wait any longer.


Quite a few visits from the whales this spring. Not many since the summer. No herring spawn nearby this year. One of our resident deer died but we have two still hanging around daily.


I helped with the island raffle quilt. Made a smaller lap quilt for me, two Christmas tree skirts for my kids, a bookcase quilt for my niece, a variety of tote bags for gifts and a casserole caddy which I am not proud of.

In summary,

It has been a great year and would like to finish it by wishing you all the very best for 2020. I really do appreciate the time you take to spend with me. 66,000 times you have read what I have to say and that is incredibly kind. I will try to make you laugh more this year with very little crying.

Like our fish, we are thriving as we live this life. I am fully aware it isn’t for everyone. But it is the one for

E, the beaver and Me

like to think

Yesterday we went to the special pharmacy where E’s medications from the St. Paul’s transplant clinic are distributed. We get three month’s supply at a time. The parking lot was pretty full but there was a space available set aside for “senior citizens”. E says, “I’m almost a senior. I could park there.” I said “no!” Despite the obvious ethical reasons, and that I knew he was only joking, I felt it necessary to reiterate that I am too young to be married to a senior citizen.

Then we went to the bulk barn to buy ingredients for Christmas baking. (Stick with me, there is a point to the story)

I am quite aware that we are usually just the two of us, my children are old enough to do their own baking and that we aren’t supposed to be eating Christmas goodies. But I bake anyways. I like to. I will take the treats to Vancouver at Christmas time. Someone will eat them.

When we went to pay the cashier at the bulk barn, she asked if we were eligible for the senior rate. 10% off on Wednesdays, she said. I replied “yes, absolutely, we are seniors.” Apparently my thrift overrides my honesty as well as my vanity because I was very pleased with the $8.00 savings.

Next stop was for my haircut and the main reason why I thought I should mention the pharmacy parking lot and the bulk barn.

E had gone off to Costco while I had my hair cut. When I was finished at the hairdressers I texted him that I would wait for him in the London Drugs. He texted back that he would just be two minutes… So, I walked to the other end of the mall, past the London Drugs and straight out to the parking lot. It was cold out there and no sign yet of E. So I moved out on the median in the sunshine. I thought he wouldn’t even need to park to pick me up.

Minutes pass with no E. I zip my coat up higher and pull the attached hat over my newly shorn head. He texted me again… “where are you?”I texted back. “I’m outside the London Drugs.” Then I clarified, texting “on the sushi side.” More minutes pass. I was getting colder so turned my back to the wind only to see E directly behind me with his back to me, texting what I can only assume was “No you aren’t, cause I am here and you are not.”

We were three feet apart, with our backs to each other conversing by text that we couldn’t find each other.

I’m fairly certain that even if we don’t yet qualify for the seniors discount in actual years, those days are closer than we

like to think.