mess with superstition

It is my personal view that everyone secretly loves dark fruit cake at Christmas and weddings but the cake has fallen so far out of favour that no one is willing to admit their predilection for the alcohol laced goodness. Instead, cooks and brides rely on mince tarts and carrot cake to fill the traditional role served by the dark fruit cake. Only one of our friends here on the island serves fruit cake at Christmas and, what with the pandemic and all, we haven’t had any in years. E and I have decided to take matters into our own hands. We will make our own dark fruit cake for Christmas. It can be frozen, so that is always an option if any of it is left over after the holidays… (as if!) But it has to be made now. The fruit is soaked in brandy for days and the cake soaked in rum for months.. What’s not to like?

E has no lingering effects from his Moderna hat trick vaccination on Saturday. He was up at the wood pile this morning putting in his hour of log splitting. His back is showing its age so he finds that an hour a day does him better than overdoing with the resultant week on his back nursing a hot water bottle. He described his trip to the vaccination clinic, when he had to drive through the anti vax protesters, as ironic and unfortunate, and then accurately described the protesters as cretinous Morlocks spewing their hateful and ignorant garbage. The man does have a way with words doesn’t he?

With the return of the rains we reinstalled the canopy on the back of the truck, hoping to get our winter groceries to the property from the boat in a less than soaking wet condition. We added a couple of heavy cement bricks to the back of the truck at the same time, to help us get up dead truck hill if any snows should come. Yes, in fact, dead truck hill does have dead trucks buried in it. Three to be exact. The weather this winter is supposed to be like the winter of 2009, which we remember well, with lots and lots of snow falling in the area. In fact, if I remember correctly, friends had to dig the snow out of our boat at the marina ’cause it was so heavy, and E’s Dad was unable to get over here to deal with it.

E and I sold our share in the family home to one of his sisters but kept the family boat with one of his other sisters, who also lives here. It is a 24 ft aluminum boat built by Tom Mack builders in Richmond on specifications by E’s father. He sold his 27′ Catalina and switched to the Tom Mack when he moved here full time. E’s Dad was a practical man, a Lieutenant in the Naval Reserves, who retired as the Director of small craft harbors on the West Coast. He knew boats. When we travel in the boat he chose, we are dry and warm, out of the wind and rain, and quite safe in all manner of conditions on the water. It is a great commuter boat with its Yamaha 150 motor on it.

I had heard that having a piece of your wedding cake on future wedding anniversaries was good luck so, when we were married, I froze the top tier of our dark fruit wedding cake and we had a piece every year on our anniversary. It lasted ten years and the marriage 39 so far. One piece per year was supposed to be the secret for a long and happy marriage and I was not going to

mess with superstition.

subscribe or not

Lots to talk about so let’s get started. First, we need to discuss the elephant in the room.

Many of you have noticed the new subscription button on the home page and sent a payment. I thank you and am negligent for my lack of explanation. Word press charges me a bunch of money every year to keep the blog ad free. If you have ever read a blog, where there are ads constantly popping up, you will appreciate why I pay to keep the blog free of the nuisance. It was brought to my attention that having my readers subscribe and pay a small amount of money every year is no different than if I sold home made gift cards, or candles at a craft fair. I was encouraged to at least give my readers the option to support the blog and so I did. Many of you have, and I thank you. If you don’t like pay pal you can send it to garden@telus.net.

Next order of business. You wanted to see the baby quilt I made.

I have now finished sewing the quilt top for my daughter’s queen bed. I still need material for the back and batting to finish, and, until there is the unlikely opening of a fabric store on the island, I have to wait for it to get shipped here. I can set the quilt aside for a couple of weeks and deal with the stash of island apples and pears on my kitchen counter. Apple pie filling and pear jam, I suspect, will be added to the pantry this week.

Then I need to get started working on the winter edition of the island newsletter. The newsletter takes me a couple of weeks to finish.. There is a lot of hounding of people and waiting on articles that goes on.. With any luck it will be ready to mail out in November. With the pandemic limiting the social activities on the island there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to talk about. It could be a very thin newsletter indeed.

Our community fundraises for the island volunteer fire department and also for emergency medical supplies. In addition to the fire truck and equipment, we have a couple of AED’s, and a backboard, among other things. We also fund first aid training to willing islanders. Yesterday, E and I had a refresher course. A Red Cross instructor came over to the island for the day. We had already completed a four hour on-line segment and then yesterday eight of us had another five hours of in person instruction. I guess the ultimate goal would be for everyone on the island to have basic knowledge of what to do in an emergency. It was after the first aid course I went on three years ago that I bought a tourniquet to keep in E’s chain saw box.

E was able to get his Covid Vaccine booster yesterday. So that is three Moderna shots he has had. He never had a reaction with his first two shots. This one has made him kind of tired but no real bothersome side effects. Theoretically, in two weeks, he will be as safe as any of us vaccinated folks, although we will continue to stay close to home for a good long while.

Now to what you really want to know. The water! How did we make out with the water? That little rain storm we had on Friday gave us 1200 gallons in 24 hrs. Our tanks are now sitting at 2600 gallons. Needless to say we have been having a lot of bubble baths this weekend. A few more days like that and we can close the full tanks for the winter and not have to talk about it any more.

You know when drug dealers give you the goods for free at first, to get you hooked, and then when you are hooked they start charging? Well, that is kind of what I did with the blog. I gave you the first 862 posts and ten years free and now you gotta pay. Well, you don’t actually have to pay. I am not going to cut you off or anything. It is all voluntary and I appreciate you following whether you

subscribe or not.

who needs TV

I am getting the idea from the recent emails we have received that you are all as happy about the current weather forecast as we are. So many of you out there are thinking about us and our water situation. You are all so nice!!!

When the rain falls off our beautiful new 1200 sq. ft. metal roof it goes through a Wisy filter into a 500 gallon tank under the deck. When it hits about 350 gallons the float valve triggers and it pumps the water 300 feet up the hill to our storage tanks. The trouble is, we watch the rain coming down and hear it on the roof but are left to wonder aloud if we think the pump has pumped yet. How much rain have we accumulated so far?”

This current storm has been predicted for days and it seems for once the weather forecasters got it right ’cause it is definitely coming down. The heavy winds also arriving this afternoon are hitting the island from the south so don’t really affect us other than replacing any thoughts of going on the water with thoughts of a second pot of coffee.

Yesterday, it was beautiful. Sunny, calm, no wind and the recent fire ban was lifted mid-day. I couldn’t wait to get to the burn pile and set fire to my summer paper and fallen twigs. With a big rain coming today, it really was the ideal conditions for the first burn pile of the season. One of our sons is a wildfire fighter and, I must admit, watching the rain brings an added sigh of relief. He is one of those guys they drop on the sides of mountains from helicopters to put out lightning strikes before they can escalate to bigger concerns. He loves it. Me, not so much.

With forecasted rains of 65 mm over the next three days we wanted a really clear understanding of how much water that translates to in our tanks. We climbed up the hill last night and measured the levels in all of the tanks. We now know that we are beginning the storm with 1480 gallons of water. But questions remain, like how do we know when the pump under the deck has been triggered? How fast are we going to accumulate water through this storm and of course the most important question, just how many baths can I enjoy per day this winter?

So E rigged a light up to the tank pump and attached it to the rose trellis under our bedroom window. The theory being when the pump is triggered, the light will tell us. The rains began last night around 1:30 am and at 4:30 he awoke to a bright green light shining in the window. Now there was probably some water in the tank captured during the rains last week so we couldn’t get our hopes up that the pump will go off every three hours this weekend.

But, four hours later at 8:30 as we sat drinking our coffee listening to the lovely pitter patter of raindrops on the roof, the light came on again. Then, again at 12:16 pm!

With the change in weather the wood stove plays an important role in our lives. The hot water is switched over to the range boiler from the on demand system, so no more propane is needed. The onions, yellow tomatoes, red tomatoes, green and yellow peppers, which I grew in our garden, have been added together in a big pot with ground beef and hot Italian sausages to simmer for a few days on the stove. I don’t bother cooking down the tomato sauce when I can it in the summer ’cause it uses too much propane. I let the wood stove do the thickening. There is finally a bit of room in our freezer for packages of this sauce which we can then use for easy winter dinners.

The dogs are pleased to have the fire going while helping me with my quilting. We have made the unusual decision to turn the music off on the stereo as our preference is to listen to the rain this afternoon.

We are both just sitting and staring out the window now to see when the pump will come on again. Wagering is encouraged. Bets have been placed.

Who needs TV

enough is enough

I have been thinking of a couple of my friends this week, who have had just way more grief, this year, than anyone should have to bear. My words are inadequate when talking to them and I ashamed by my own current funk.

We have heard from so many friends this week. They are all so supportive and eager to visit once this god forsaken pandemic is over with. At the end of the day we are so lucky to have really the best of the best in our lives. We can hardly wait for their return and, when we watch ‘Nadiya Bakes’ on Netflix, we wonder if we should make her cupcakes for them.

When we first bought our property ten years ago we were warned that the roof on the studio needed to be replaced. The project had become urgent last winter when gaping holes appeared in the shake roof above the bins of tools and construction supplies. Never good when peanut butter jars of nails and bits become filled with the rain water falling through the roof.

Sure, we put a couple of tarps on the roof last September, which we had leftover from the reno project. But they were ripped to shreds by the unusually windy winter we had last year. It was obvious we couldn’t put it off any longer. This must be the year we put a new roof on the studio.

But then someone, who shall remain nameless, really wanted a greenhouse. So, the studio roof project was rescheduled until next year. The upside to a four month drought is that we haven’t had to think about the roof until now. We have huge rains expected this month and probably for the rest of the winter. Honestly, you can stand inside the studio, and see the blue sky through the roof. Personally, I would like to torch the thing and get rid of it but apparently E thinks his tools deserve a home out of the weather. So we bought a new tarp. A $115.00 new roof, if you will. It was a miracle E didn’t fall through the roof when he took the old ones off and put the new one on. I am aware that the area around the studio is reminiscent of the Clampett’s old house. You can see why I want to burn it all down.

I have begun a new quilt. This one is for my daughter. It was pointed out to me this summer that the quilt I started for her five years ago is unfinished and I have made not one, but two, for my granddaughter, in the meantime. In my defense I don’t like the quilt I started for her. So I think I will turn it into a couple of dog beds. The baby quilt I made last week is on its way to the baby. I will show you a pic once she gets it. I like quilting. I prefer gardening, but I like quilting.

I was very fortunate to marry a man who loves musicals as much I do. I think our favourite, until tonight, was Les Mis. I can’t tell you how many times we have seen it. But E stumbled across a copy of “Come from Away” today and thought it might cheer me up. We watched it tonight. What a great show. I didn’t stop smiling and crying the whole time. I had goosebumps from the minute it started. I could watch it again and again and I know our friends on the island will love it.

I am ready to put my funk behind me. The ugly is washed away and I am ready to move forward with the anticipation of a vaccinated future with all of the friends in our life whom we hold oh so dear.

Enough is Enough

Bar in it

When we were first married, my girlfriend told me a story about her parents and their continuing romance after a good many years of wedded bliss. I think, as the story went, her Dad used to leave her Mom hidden notes about the house when he had to travel out of town for business.

At the time, we were house sitting at my Mom’s, and I had to go to Singapore for work. I felt bad leaving E behind with our ten month old first born. So, I took a page from my friend’s book and left a chocolate bar in his housecoat as it hung on the bathroom door. I thought it would be a fun treat for him, you know, somewhat equivalent to my dabbling in the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the gala opening of a five star hotel in the heart of Malaysia, as a guest of the Singapore Tourist Board.

On our walk tonight, I stopped back into the greenhouse to get yet more hot peppers. I am still picking six or seven a day. There are still sweet green peppers coming too.

E earned his pay yesterday when he found out how the mice were getting into the house. We have been so conscientious about keeping the doors closed, we could not figure it out. But under the kitchen where the floor meets the wall, he found a chewed little hole with the remnants of Minnie Mouse’s dinner scattered about. So, that hopefully ends the latest mouse drama.

I finished the baby quilt I was working on. My neighbour will pop it in the mail for me at the end of the week. There is no pressure sewing a quilt for a baby. It doesn’t have to fit her like a dress would and she probably won’t be checking my stitching. Likely as not she will be spitting up on it and rolling about on it with her fish crackers and arrowroot biscuits. So no pressure…

There was one issue with the chocolate treat I left for E in his housecoat hanging on the bathroom door of my Mom’s house in 1987. The ensuite bathroom of Mom’s house was heated with baseboards along the wall next to the door. You can imagine for yourself the problem with the robe hanging on the door about one foot above and a little to the left of the baseboard heater. With a chocolate

bar in it

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