Like this island

When we told people we were leaving our island to see, not only one concert but four concerts by the same artist they would ask who and why?

We would reply Mark Knopfler and rarely would anyone know who he is. He used to be with Dire Straits, we would describe. Ah they would reply, I have heard of them. Despite the fact that Knopfler has been on his own since 1995 and released at least ten albums since Dire Straits seemed awkwardly unhelpful. He is a prolific poetic lyricist and one of the top ten guitarists of all time.

Our eagerness to see all we could of him while he was touring, for maybe his last time, bordered on stalking but we were determined fans and resolute in the commitment we made at his last concert in 2015.

We met our friend, let’s call him Paul In Seattle, and we three headed to Portland for concert number one at the Keller Auditorium. Row seven, $164.00 per ticket. We were, to simplify the feelings, in bliss and left the first night wanting more.

Night number two was at an outdoor winery amphitheatre. In Seattle, general admission $116.00…… Low backed chairs, blanket, table, cheese, crackers and wine..lots and lots of wine.. We sang, we danced. We, to use a term ours peers might understand.. went all Woodstock…

Night number three, was again outdoors at the St. Michelle winery. I might add now if you ever have the chance to see a concert at the St Michelle winery in Woodinville, do it. James Taylor, Chris Isaak, Alisha Keys, ZZ Top, Gypsy Kings have played there recently. I drank a little less wine on night number three as I missed my favourite song the night before standing in line at the washroom. But again on night number three we sang and we danced. I got to share an evening with E and one of his oldest and dearest friends.

Back to Vancouver to the Orpheum for concert number four, row ten, paying $210.00 per ticket. We still weren’t doubting our sanity.. In fact there was discussion of flying to Berkeley for the next show..

E and I don’t travel much, if at all. But this was definitely a bucket list kind of week. Much of the enjoyment of the entire experience is sharing it with two of my favourite people in the world. To see these two guys, who face daunting mortality challenges, share a moment of sheer joy when they hear the first chords of Speedway at Nazareth makes every single penny worth it.

We would be crazy not to see Knopfler for four shows in four nights. We would be mad not to spend the money that a two week winter vacation to Mexico would cost.

Life is short and the opportunity is unlikely to ever happen again. These two guys are my hero’s and Mark Knopfler, is one of the world’s secret gems, kinda

Like this island

Any time soon

We ended up going to town yesterday for paint. E loves to paint and wanted to see that particular job finished.. This morning he painted the final coat in the guest cabin. I’m happy with the colour although it wasn’t the shade I expected and I don’t really see why Behr needs 52 different hues of white. But happily the painting is now finished except for, as with everything on this island, the part we can’t finish til the supplies arrive. We are waiting on some 1×8 trim.

My abilities to paint are limited to patio furniture, garden decorations and weather vanes. Long ago we agreed that I wouldn’t go anywhere near our walls. So I took the opportunity to stay out of his way and clean the house for my daughter’s arrival tomorrow. Ironic isn’t it? I now clean our house for the kid who used to do my house cleaning for me..

This afternoon E began installing the cabin lighting. My electrical abilities are infinitely less than my painting abilities so once again I stayed out of his way.

I have a huge freezer and I have been expecting to go to Costco to fill it with meat for the winter. It seemed like a good idea to write a list out of what is in the freezer for my daughters menu planning and my winter shopping list. I got a cooler to put the freezer’s contents while I sorted them. Then I got a second one cause one wasn’t enough. Then it seemed like a good idea to defrost and clean the freezer. It hadn’t been done in two years.. Food was everywhere, water everywhere. It wasn’t pretty.

What I learned from this activity is that apparently all summer when I bought groceries, I bought two or three of everything. Cooking one and putting the rest into the back of the freezer. I had lost complete control of the situation. It was madness, MADNESS, I tell you.. The list of the freezer contents is two pages long!

On the upside I don’t need to go to Costco for meat

any time soon.

Beautiful fall day today

Butter and bananas

Our local eagles are long gone. Hard to say when. It was maybe a month or so ago I realized I didn’t have them waking me at first light. They will be back in December once they have finished feeding in near by rivers. The Canadian Geese shout their goodbyes often during the day as they head south. Most of the hummingbirds have gone. We have three who usually stay for the winter with us and it looks like they are staying again this year.

The pond has maybe twenty healthy goldfish. I feed them til October, then I ignore them and they kind of go to sleep til spring. We have a net over the top to discourage the Heron and Kingfisher from snacking. Our resident seal has survived the summer’s transient whale visits. Every morning he swims past my window to let me know he is ok. This will be our eighth winter here and I am finally getting used to the rhythm of living on the nature channel.

I have a new squirrel feeder for my winter’s entertainment.

A rabbit has set up residence on our driveway. This week he found a way into our garden. He walked right past the vegetables and ate all of my amaranth. Obviously a higher class of cottontail than your regular carrot eating bugs bunny sort.

I am frustrated with the garden. I really am considering turning it mostly into flowers and shrubs with a few pumpkins, peas, asparagus and tomatoes thrown in. It really is a lot of bother to water vegetables which E doesn’t eat. I can get what I need from the local farmers markets.

We had thought we needed to cut down a huge Maple tree which is growing at the entrance to our property. It is shading one of the apple trees. A Bramley seedling hasn’t grown in the seven years we have been here. It should be huge by now. It is such a shame because I really do love that Maple. This week we had the brilliant idea that the Maple can stay where it is if we just move the Bramley.. duh!!!! So now I need to walk about the property and pick the perfect spot. September is the month I move plants around in the garden. It’s time to make a decision about how I can best enjoy the space.

The dry walling portion of our project is finished. Whoo who!! Let the bells ring. E has now finished the first coat of paint through out most of the cabin but of course we have run out of paint and need more to finish the second coat. The second coat is going to have to wait til next week when we are back. I painted the primer coat on the old adirondack chairs we got from our neighbours.

E wants me to thank John for the extension pole he bought him to paint the higher walls. Thanks John!

Just a thought, but maybe instead of growing flowers or vegetables in my garden E would enjoy the harvest more if I learned how to grow peanut

butter and bananas

winter in Hawaii

We don’t leave this island very often. I haven’t slept a night away this year but we are going to the states next week. We are going to a concert at the St. Michelle winery. It’s a gorgeous venue with hot air balloons drifting behind the stage during the concert.

Family will come and take care of the dog and the house so we don’t have to go through any shut down process.

Last week we went in to Westland insurance to renew our truck insurance and while we were there asked about emergency medical insurance. Oh, says she “you should get it on line at Costco, great prices” We thought that was very kind of her seeing as I am sure she must be on commission.

This morning, I found my credit card, plugged in my lap top and sat down to get us some well priced travel insurance from Costco on line. First question on the form asked me our ages. I type 64 and 62. Their response, “We see you are over 60 so we would like to ask you some health related questions”. Things seemed to go well enough for the first four questions but then they asked “have either of you ever had an organ transplant?” “Why yes one of us has” I proudly typed. They responded surprisingly quickly, “thank you for your application but unfortunately you do not qualify for emergency medical insurance.” The form closed.

hmm.. so then I tried Sunlife who have provided our extended health insurance for thirty five years, I thought they would love to sell us emergency medical insurance. For the Sunlife on line application form I had to answer questions for us, two at a time… Again, they asked our ages and also expressed that they would like to know more about our health situation since we were over 60. The first four questions went well but when they asked the now dreaded organ transplant question, E’s form disappeared and he was no longer an applicant.. whoosh.. His options were just gone…. The form closed

hmm.. so then I tried BCAA. We aren’t members any more but we were once. Surely that must count for something. I continued to fill in the form once the obligatory age question was answered. When they wanted to know details of our pre existing conditions asking if either of us has had an organ transplant, I was ready for them and already looking for the Blue Cross website. When you think about it, it’s kind of odd that they would include that question cause how often would anyone ever answer yes.

I answered yes. This time though, E’s form didn’t disappear and there was no passive aggressive thanks but no thanks response. Instead, the running total for the cost for his insurance jumped from $47.00 to $84.00. But they didn’t say no. My costs went up when I admitted to a propensity for kidney stones but that’s okay, they do come up suddenly and it could happen that I get stones when we are away. The likelihood however, that E is going to suddenly need a heart transplant during our four day stay is less so.

We are insured but goodness it’s no wonder we don’t travel very often. I can’t imagine what it would cost us to

winter in Hawaii

the water jugs

We are going to be talking about water today. Successful management of water is integral to living off grid. To change things up a bit though I won’t be whining about the water or lack thereof for my garden but we will talk about our drinking water.

I always have had concerns with E drinking well water. He is immune suppressed and could so easily pick up a bug that I never felt it wise. We had our water tested when we moved here and it passed but it always tasted mineraly (?) and not delicious. So we have never used it for drinking.

This left us three options. We could fill our water jugs at the local marine park. The water there is tested monthly (I think) and is very safe. Or we can use the water from the well at the family house. E has been drinking it for forty years and never had a problem. So that is what we have been doing. We “borrow” 3 gallons of water every two weeks or so from our very generous sister and brother in law.

But it isn’t a viable plan for the long term future which brings us to option three. Installing an extensive (expensive) filtration system in our rain water harvesting system.

When the rain water drains off the roof it goes through a Wysy water system. The roof water is fed through a fine mesh before it goes into it’s initial tank. Once it leaves the tank under the deck it goes into one of four 1500 gallon tanks at the top of our property (Elevation 60 feet, distance 300 feet). Those tanks are treated with a small amount of bleach every month.

When a tap is turned on down at the house, the water begins it’s trip back down the hill. Once it reaches the house it first goes through a 5 micron particle filter, then it goes through a charcoal filter and then a UV light.

Our rain water system has been installed for over a year now and we finally feel the tanks and pipes and system have had ample opportunity to flush through any issues.

We went down to the family house today to fill our water jugs. Frankly, we are probably as tired getting our drinking water this way as our family is of us borrowing their water. Let’s be honest. They aren’t going to get it back.

So E gave me a taste test when we got back and I gotta say our water was good. I could even say delicious… It will be great to reap this oh so necessary benefit of our new water system.

So the plan is to get our water tested just to be sure, and finish up the water we have on hand from the family home. Then, we can clear off the counter top and put away

the water jugs

his own dinner

After I had watered the veggie garden this morning I tasted an apple off the Gravenstein tree. I taste apples off of all three of our trees every morning. Most mornings I spit it out and toss the remainder into the salal for the deer. But today it was delicious and juice poured down my chin. I added picking the Gravenstein apples to our very long day’s to do lists.

The deer had eaten the fruit from all of the lower branches. The little darlings stand on their hind legs and graze happily.

Not to worry, there were plenty more to go around. Lots fell on the ground when we were picking them. The critter’s evening meal will be easier to get to than normal. At the end of our task we ended up with 50 pounds. The Gravenstein are good for eating, baking and canning. I plan to make some apple sauce and apple pie filling with them.

We still have two more trees to harvest but they aren’t ready yet, Jonagold and Kings. The Jonagold are also good for eating and baking and the Kings are good keepers. We will be eating them well into the winter months, if I can find a cool place to store them away from mice.

This afternoon I also finished the cushion cover for the futon. Finished is a relative term. The cushion is covered. put it that way. I will readily admit that sewing a 75 inch zipper into a huge piece of upholstery was way beyond my skill set. I had no pattern, have never done it before and basically faked the whole thing. No one will care. It will look fine. If one cabin guest should accurately comment that it is the worst zipper sewing cushion covering they have ever seen, they will be sleeping in a tent.

E is taping and mudding up in the cabin and at some point I won’t be able to hide in my kitchen canning anymore. I will be up in the cabin helping him sand. UGH.. Dry wall sanding is the worst….

I had a lovely half hour watching twin turkey vultures on their first venture without Mom and Dad. One, let’s call him Geoffrey had found a huge clam which he was unwilling to share. His brother Preston, probably the younger twin, wandered back and forth expecting to get a share.. At one point he even pulled on Geoffrey’s tail to remind him that he was hungry too. Geoffrey was livid and told Preston in no uncertain terms to bug off and get

his own dinner

We made it!

Dry wall almost finished in the guest cabin. Mudding, taping and the dreaded sanding should be done this week. That will be it for the icky jobs.

We went to town yesterday to pick up the laminate flooring. We were just going to paint the plywood floors but we were offered a great deal from a local store in return for the roofing headaches caused by their supplier. Not the store’s fault but we have finished most of our material purchases now and finish up with that store as happy customers.

In addition to project materials, we did a major shop to stock the pantry for the winter. We had already done a big shop for staples, TP, shampoo and the like. Yesterday we bought everything for my pantry. Base supplies to make soups, stews, chillies, breads, and treats. Still need to do one last gas run and a meat shop at Costco. The freezer will be packed with vacuum sealed packages of steaks, chicken, ground beef and maybe a few lamb chops by the end of September.

I have now canned all of the tomato sauce I am going to need. Jams, chutneys and whole fruit are ready. Applesauce still on the to do list. I am waiting for Mother Nature to do her thing.

The firewood is ready for this winter with more waiting to be split for future winter warmth. The guest cabin is an ongoing project. Fun to do, even funner (???) in the weeks to come when we are painting and decorating. But we have to still prepare for our winter.

As you all know our primary goal after October 1st is to have no need to go to town very often. In a perfect world we would go to town once every three weeks. If E could learn to like beer on his cereal instead of milk we could go even longer. I have offered to use wine for my oatmeal.

We finish the summer in pretty good shape system wise. The generator has only been used to run E’s power tools. If we ever finish renovating, summer generator usage should be reduced to zero.

We had all of the water this summer we really needed for bathing, laundry, and the watering of a minimum number of vegetables. I could have used more for the flower portion of the garden but nothing is dead like last year. I even had a very nice selection of flowers on the deck. Unlike last year at this time, when I was ready to give up and tear out the whole garden. I am feeling more optimistic for next year.

We had more rain this summer than I remember having during the last four summers. We had a nice selection of warm weather with a day or night of rain ever week or so. Our driveway still has green grass which is unheard of.

March 1st we started the summer with 6000 gallons in storage at the top of our property. We then moved 1000 gallons down to the two garden tanks. We won’t have to do that again as we are going to have rain water catchment for the garden tanks, this winter off the new guest cabin.

We finish the summer with a decent amount of tomatoes, squash, carrots, parsnips and pumpkin in the cupboard for winter nourishment. We finish the summer with a reasonably undead flower garden. Most importantly, we finish the summer with our clothes clean and our bodies relatively well bathed…

and the numbers are in… drum roll please.. We are finishing the summer with 1300 gallons of water still in the upper tanks.

We made it!