I’m eagerly awaiting E to download the final episode of Game of Thrones, so I thought I would kill the time writing. Lucky you!
We walked to the annual May long weekend community pancake breakfast at the fire hall this morning. Beautiful day, about 22 degrees in the afternoon. Fifty five people showed up before nine for the free breakfast hosted by our Volunteer Fire Department.
It’s a great chance to reconnect with old friends after the winter break. Important tips for fire smarting your property were shared along with updates on island events. There were lots of new faces and tickets for the quilt went on sale. Everyone was happy. It was a great event and E and I were home by 11:30 am.
Our afternoon was spent hammering posts as an outline of where a bunkie could go on the land we just cleared. You know, if we should decide to go ahead and build a bunkie, it doesn’t hurt to plan it’s placement. There was lots of hmmming and ahhhing.. and a little bit of sitting in chairs staring into the open space.
The spot has some great shade over some lovely moss covered ground. Piper was happy enough to snooze while we contemplated our future. When E occasionally did sit down, which is his right, Piper was more than happy to join him and contribute his two cents worth.
Essentially, we took the day off today. Actually, I am considering taking the whole week off. Why not? We are allowed, but I suspect if I leave the chores on the list alone, unsupervised, and we do nothing all week, it’s likely they will breed and all hell
My reasons for leaving this island are few and far between. I haven’t been off yet this year. Mark Knopfler wants me to spend four nights watching him sing in September, and then there is Christmas, maybe two or three nights in December. That should be it for the year.
We have friends who only come in the summer, or come most of the year but leave for the really cold months. But when we stay year round and have no inclination to suffer cold, we need more firewood than most. We had fallen behind in our stash.
Islanders often discuss the number of times one item is picked up and moved to get it to this island. Take one jug of milk.. Into the shopping cart. Onto the checkout counter. Into the buggy. Into the car. Into a wheelbarrow. Into a boat. Out of the boat into another wheelbarrow. Into a truck. Into another wheelbarrow down to the house. On to the kitchen counter. Into the fridge. You gotta really like milk..
If you think there is something you would like to have here, there is a certain level of commitment required to take the trouble it is going to be to get that new item here. Take my gardening friend and her ever so accommodating husband. They have one of the most beautiful gardens on the island and they created it on what is essentially a large rock. There was no soil. Over the thirteen some odd years they have been building their garden they have brought over 100 bags of soil each year with additional amounts of manure and soil enhancers.. Every time they come across in their boat there are a few bags of soil. This is in addition to the benefits of their composting program. Same story as the milk but for a bag of soil. That is commitment.
We were fortunate to buy a property from a gardener with beds filled with gorgeous composted soil accumulated over 22 years.. Not sure E would have shared the same enthusiasm as my friend’s husband if we had had to start at zero.
This discussion also applies to the warmth brought by firewood. We are lucky to have a property with trees and also, friends who are willing to share their windfalls. Unless they have already fallen we need to cut the trees down or hire someone to do it. Then we buck the wood into rounds 17 inches long. Then we have to carry them to and then lift them into our truck. (Luckily we have a truck). Get them out of the truck and onto our property. Fortunately we have a wood splitter. So now we have to get each round to the splitter and split each round. Stack the wood (we have run out of wood shed space) When it’s dry after maybe two or three years. (the longer the better) we put it in a wheelbarrow and take it down a steep hill to the house and load it into the wood stash on the deck. A days worth comes into the house next to the stove. Five am one of us gets up and lights the first fire of the day. House is warm by seven….
It is really nice to be warm. It is really nice to have a three year stash of wood now on the property. The work continues and we won’t be finished for another few days but we are very pleased. That being said, there is a point when I am feeling a little chilled and I think about all the work we go through to get the wood to our stove and I sigh… I sigh and then I smile,
The eagles were awake at 5 am. When the eagles wake, the Canada geese get up and grow noisy warning their babies to be careful. It was already rush hour on the hummingbird highway to the feeder outside my bedroom window. I could hear the Kingfisher as he insisted on boasting to everyone that he was the first to catch a fish and the seagulls don’t get me started on the seagulls. Why they have to tell everyone their business I will never know…
I was going to have a busy day clearing the bunkie site but I still needed a couple of hours to drink coffee and look at the view before I could function so I took advantage of the racket outside my window and got up.
I am now, at 7:30 pm exhausted. I was up at the burn pile by 8 and at 4 when I came down to the house we had finished burning all the debris and had moved all of the rounds from the hill to the driveway.. They are half way to the wood shed, but that can happen tomorrow. We figure there are about 100 rounds. We kinda shared the load. E moved 50 of the biggest and I moved the rest..
We have a couple of wilderness cameras around the property. Partly for security and partly to get pictures like we did last night. We had left the arbutus branches til last so the deer could find them. Four of them spent the night enjoying the treats and became the starring actors in last nights wilderness movie.
This picture is basically the view which the bunkie (if and when it gets built) will have from its front porch.
I’m not complaining about the traffic outside of my window which wakes me up. I appreciate their help. There was a time, living in the city when I woke to cars honking and ambulances. I prefer the birds. But 5 am seems extreme.
Years ago our son went on a chainsaw course taught through BC Wildfire and the instructor left him with the impression that wearing the Kevlar type of chainsaw pants was mandatory when taking down trees. The instructor described that even he, as a qualified guy, had experienced the saw bucking back and slicing his leg. Jeans are not appropriate dress and chaps aren’t a perfect option either as he had been hit on the back of his thigh.
Our kids bought E Kevlar chainsaw pants that summer. There is a fibre in the material which, when contacted with the moving chain brings it to a complete stop. Along with those pants, E also wears steel toed boots, a hard hat, glasses and ear plugs when he heads out to drop trees.
We spent Mother’s day murdering three large fir trees and one small arbutus to make room for a potential bunkie. We still haven’t committed to actually starting the project this summer. We keep hemming and hawing. But when we do decide to begin, we will have the space cleared…
There is a professional tree faller on the island right now but I asked E if there would be any physical risk to him if he tried to take them down himself. I wanted to save the $1000.00 it would cost us to hire a professional but I am not heartless.
He said “not so much.” The trees might land wrong and maybe take out an extra tree or two by mistake but he, physically, “should” be fine. Two of the fir trees were seventy feet high. One was maybe fifty feet but it was curvey and stubborn. They all dropped where E intended. (or close enough). No unplanned damage.
We were left with a huge mess to clean up and a lot of wood to buck and get down to the wood pile ready for splitting. The cooler weather and rain which arrived this week will give us the opportunity to burn the debris and complete the process of getting the area tidy. I know what I’ll be doing for the next several days.
Where was I? Right, Kevlar pants. E’s are well worn. Probably the perfect gift from our kids for him. With what goes on living here, his need of them is constant. This week they proved their value in spades.
While E was bucking an arbutus the chainsaw bumped in the air and hit his thigh. The fibre in the pants brought the blade to a complete stop. His leg is none the worse for the incident but I can’t say the same
Sure I remember the first time I held them. One does. But what stays with me are the flashbacks of shared moments. Moments in all likelihood, which were meaningless to them. I dare say long forgotten. But for me, I can close my eyes and we are there.
With my oldest, it’s driving down Ladner Trunk, stopped at the light in front of the KFC. We were heading to his school for kindergarten. He was next to me in the front seat. His younger brother and sister sat behind us in the back seat of our baby blue Ford Ltd station wagon. The kind of station wagon with the flip up seats in the back compartment. He looked nervous. I reached over and touched his hand. He took it and we held hands the rest of the five block drive. He jumped out of the car at the school and never looked back. Now he is 33, with a beard, a family of his own and he jumps out of helicopters fighting wildfires for a living.
The next moment is with my thirteen year old middle child. Hours and hours spent on movie sets waiting his turn as an extra, watching the comings and going of the actors and crew. We would fill the time playing cards or sometimes just sit in silence entertained by the activities in front of us. Set wranglers (the people who managed extras) loved my son with the extraordinary ability to sit quietly for hours on end and they hired him over and over again without worry that he might grow impatient and cause disruption. One day, on the set for a TV show called Cold Case we were the very last extras sitting in the waiting room. His scene, was the last to be shot. I was so worried about him because his scene was to stand in a suit over the casket of his dead father in a funeral home. They shot the scene, first take. My son showed not a hint that it bothered him considering what his own father had just gone through….I thought to myself driving home that he is emotionally one of the toughest kids I have ever known. To this day, if you need someone to rely on, who will answer the phone, it’s this guy.
My daughter, ah my daughter.. she is a private woman. These days she doesn’t tell me much. Rarely shares anything. But there was a time and I remember those nights well in her later years of high school. The eldest had gone to university. E would be out coaching middle ones hockey team. She would come into to my room to say good night. I would be watching TV and she would snuggle on the bed with me and talk about her day… One night, (May 19, 2005, I looked it up) we watched CSI together. Quinton Tarantino had directed this particular episode, with one of the crime team kidnapped and buried alive, fire ants were involved. I am so glad she was there cause I was freaked out.. haha.. This girl is the brave one. She now works in the downtown east side with the most vulnerable. She walks those dangerous streets sometimes during the middle of the night unfazed. But I remember her laying beside me watching CSI…
What will they remember about me? Hopefully not the times I messed up parenting, lost my temper or disciplined incorrectly. Are there moments when I did it right? There was no instruction booklet when we were given these kids. We were really just making it up as we went along.
Honestly, I remember little of the rough times of my youth with my own mother. For my Mom, I remember her honesty. She never hid from the truth or her unconditional love and support for me.
I hope that my children will remember me for that same unconditional love which I remember of my Mother. It’s what I knew from her and all I ever wanted them to
My mother had beautiful hands. Her fingers slim, nails always perfect. My daughter was fortunate and inherited her Grandmas beautiful hands.
We spent the morning working at the wood pile. E runs the splitter and I stack the wood. Anyone who has beautifully stacked wood in ordered neat rows is not stacking arbutus with their fir. Some of the pieces are curvey and awkward. If I can get the seven foot stacks somewhat even and securely upright, I figure I’m doing okay…
Taking into consideration I’m only five foot something, (I’m shrinking) and I’m stacking wood over my head with two wrists and one shoulder made of titanium, I’m pretty pleased with my progress. The big wood shed is now full on both sides,. There is maybe five and a half cords of wood with yet a huge pile of rounds left to split.
But the weather is good (27 degrees) and we are diligent in our time management. A few hours working on wood, a few in the garden, a few sitting on the deck and a couple drinking wine with family at the other end of the island. All in all a good day.
As I sat on the deck taking pictures of a cormorant fishing at the cut
I could hear wings flapping in the house. I went in to rescue what I assumed was yet another hummingbird. Lo and behold it was a swallow. That was a first. What a beautiful blue colour.. He knew I was there to help and came into my hand easily. He flew away happily once he had caught his breath and calmed down.
Beautiful bird, but as you can see ugly hands, chipped nails. I obviously had been working in the dirt all day. I have always taken comfort in the knowledge that I may have ugly hands, but when the revolution happens I will never be mistaken
Warm temperatures today with higher ones coming later in the week. I know it’s early yet, but I decided to plant what I have ready for the vegie garden before they all die in their pots. None of my tomatoes starts survived life without a greenhouse but everything else seems to have, so far. I will have to buy tomato starts in town later in the month.
I headed up to the garden at 9 AM with my bag of supplies. Seed planting guide, garden journal, dog treats, camera, mugs, thermos of coffee, sunglasses, apple (my lunch) and bird seed. I was ready for the day.
Planted in the garden now are
Nine cucumbers plants
Five Delicata Squash
Five Spaghetti Squash
Five Salmon River Squash
Five Cinderella Pumpkin
Three groups of Peas, started two weeks apart
Two types of Beet seeds
Garlic continues to thrive
I have to say the garden is looking lovely and I might have spent a fair amount of time sitting in the shade taking pictures of birds between my planting and weeding duties.
Here are some non dead birds as a pleasant treat after yesterdays horror shot.
Along with the warmer temperatures comes wild fire concerns and they are warranted. The ground is already crisp and scarily dry. We only had 55 mm rain in February, 11 mm in March and 70 mm in April. April was pollen season so our water tanks were closed. Our water tanks never did fill to max. We have an 8500 gallon capacity and only 6000 in reserve. Sure it is more than we have had in previous years but it’s disappointing. Our only hope is a surprise shower in June.
We may well have missed the window of opportunity to begin a bunkie this summer. There is talk of a partial fire ban beginning soon (no burning after 1 PM followed with a two hour fire watch) and that leaves us little opportunity to clean up any debris we would cause dropping trees to clear the site.
E is trying to get some of the wood we have gathered split and stacked. He has had the wood splitter running most of the last two days. There will be a point this summer when there is a full fire ban and we can’t even run splitters or chainsaws, due to preventative fire restrictions.
As is usual for life on this island, urgent stuff gets done first and sometimes it’s all urgent