cutting the rope

One of our sons, through his work, is involved in a conservation project whereby they set nets in one area to trap salmon who need to be released to another area. Over the last couple of weeks the nets have been cut where they were anchored to the trees from the shore. Multiple times, multiple nets in an isolated area which is 20 minutes by bushwhacking to the nearest public access. They could not figure out who would go to that trouble to get to such a remote area to vandalize the nets and why. So they set up cameras to catch the guy.

We continue to have people fish illegally in front of us. We live in a rockfish conservation area. These guys drive me nuts. If they went 100 feet in either direction they wouldn’t be breaking any laws. The only plus is that they rarely catch anything. Our neighbour, who fishes legally on the other side of the island, caught an amazing 31 pound cod this week. As I always say, good things come to those who aren’t jerks. Fortunately for us, our very kind neighbour shared a large piece of his catch with us. I see some fish and chips in our future.

A million years ago, I spent some time going to school at Dalhousie in Nova Scotia. While there, I was invited to go on a cod jigging day trip. This was long before the collapse of the cod fishery on the eastern seaboard, when you could still drop a line with a hook on it from your hand, jig it a bit and catch a fish. I am very proud of this picture, which I can say with great pride, captures for all time proof positive of the wide legged jeans we wore in the 70’s.

We have neighbours who catch prawns very successfully. We see them on the dock bringing their spotted bounty back to the island and we are envious. We have tried and tried. Our current cost per prawn is at about $75.00. Our traps have been stolen, lost in the tide and dragged by a tugboat. Even if the traps are where we left them when we return to haul in our catch, there is often just one or two prawns. So our sister in law went out with the prawn whisperer to see what he does. She then came out with us to impart her newly learned skills. It turns out we were doing one very important thing wrong. I can’t explain it but suffice to say we are expecting the tide to turn on our prawn catching success rate.

So the cameras were able to catch the culprit. I cannot imagine how he thinks he will benefit from

cutting the rope

Centre of it

Middle of a dark and stormy night with just the usual rhythms of the wind and waves outside the window, as we slept in our new home on what used to be an empty winter island. Suddenly, we were in what might have been a scene from Apocalypse Now. The sounds of a helicopter seemingly landing on our roof, our bedroom lit up with high beam spot lights. The dogs went nuts..

The lights lasted in our bedroom just a few seconds but we were all then awake and could follow the unmistakable sound as it moved slowly up and down, around our island and the next. We turned to the marine radio channel 16 to figure out what was going. There was a boat missing.

We got up and watched the lights of the helicopter and accompanying search boats for a couple of hours. I think the missing boat was eventually found, hidden in a cove on the island south of us. It was a stark reminder to us newbies on how things can go terribly wrong on the water in front of us.

We continue our task of filling the wood shed for coming winters. I don’t think we are the only ones who used more firewood than normal this winter, and our reserves are lower than we would like.

E took down another tree yesterday. Absolutely the perfect tree. First of all, it was already dead and an Arbutus which is the gold standard of firewood. It was also next to the wood shed where it will be stacked. There is also an area right next to it which can host a burn pile. I was able to have it all tidied up and the burn pile going by the time the rounds were stacked and ready to be split.

A few more Arbutus fell during the winter on our upper level beside the water tanks. Today we will take the chainsaw up there. Those rounds will have to be thrown off the cliff and then carried to the wood pile. Not quite as convenient but a great windfall none the less. Who needs to go to a gym?

Over drinks the other night I agreed to restart the blog if forty people said they wanted me to. They did, so I am here. If you all get bored reading my endless prattle about tomatoes and water shortages, so be it. I love you for your continued patience. As a side note, an upcoming story is likely to involve something embarrassing Barrie did.

Last week, E had already headed to the wood pile while I was still getting dressed in our bedroom. I have a large eight foot window facing the water next to my bed. The curtains are never shut because well no one can see in from the water and who would want to?

Then I heard the sounds of a helicopter coming closer and closer. It sounded as close as that night long ago. I leaned over to look up out the window but it wasn’t above me. It was at eye level coming straight at me in front of the cut. I didn’t get a picture because I was dumbfounded, shocked and trying to find a shirt to put on. But imagine this view with a helicopter in the

Centre of it

do the same

E has been chopping down trees and splitting firewood while I putter in the garden. Building the greenhouse last winter put us way behind on our usual firewood accrual, so it’s an urgent job to get done before the point in the summer when the forest fire danger rating is high and chainsaws and wood splitters are discouraged. Running the chainsaw and wood splitter also kill his back so working with them for just a few hours a day is enough to allow him to get things done and still continue the next day.

The beautiful Maple tree which we both loved had to finally be murdered. The branches were hanging over the garden, and blocking the light to the apple trees. The roots were coming up in the garden and just generally becoming a nuisance. I have already got a baby Maple and baby Garry Oak growing in the same area with plans of rehoming a Hawthorne and Elderflower to the same side of the lane. With the downing of the Maple, a young Yew has revealed itself in the rocks on the hill. Although it admittedly looks a little barren now and we really miss the canopy, there will be more trees to take its place.

All of the vegetable starts are now planted in the garden and ready to go and the plants are all covered in buds. It looks like it will be the most prolific year ever. The garden is ready. There is not much more I can do now but wait for the flowers to bloom and the vegetables to produce. It is like the house has been cleaned, the table set and the roast is in the oven and I am just waiting on the guests to arrive at the party.

Each of the twenty-one tomatoes is planted with a stake, a cage and an old piece of pipe with holes drilled in the bottom. When I water them, I just pour the water into the pipe and it goes directly to the roots. There isn’t a drop wasted. One watering can fills three pipes and I do it every second day.

The never-ending saga of our water continues. We had 7000 gallons saved when, on April 1st. E opened the water to the bunkie so I could use the washroom there when I am in the garden. Today we discovered we are down to 800 gallons in the tanks on reserve in the garden and only 1600 up top!!!!!!! Oh FFS’s. He went under the bunkie and the pipe to the pressure pump has sprung a hole, probably because it was an old pipe we found around the property. #$^%^$ !!!!!!!! We can still pump from our well, but are now desperate for a fairly rainy June to top up a tank or two. Sigh. I might have to start bathing and brushing my teeth with wine.

So, I have been thinking about this for a while and I want to thank you all for following along, but after 2300 posts, I have run out of things to talk about. I cannot in good faith force you to listen to my non-stop chatter about tomatoes for one more summer. So, while I consider if I am going to continue the blog at all, I am going to begin by taking the summer off. I will see you again in the fall.

To all of you, thank you for reading (81,000 hits) and all of your nice comments. Get vaccinated. Stay safe and have

a great summer. We will try to

do the same.

have to wait

May 12th, or as I call it fifteen weeks until my family can sit inside together at the dinner table. Everyone is now vaccinated and the sense of relief is great. I actually cried when I heard the last of my family had been able to get an appointment last week.

It was pouring rain when we woke up this morning so the plan was to have an indoor chore day with some cooking and a lot of cleaning. Our house looks, not surprisingly, like we have been working in the garden for five weeks while completely ignoring the basic needs of the interior of a home where two dogs live.

The water catchment system is still closed for pollen season so, although the rain is good for the garden, it is useless to the rain storage system. Hopefully June will bring big rains to top up the tanks for the summer.

Up at six, I put some pasta sauce on the stove to simmer, then fed my sourdough starter and baked two loaves of bread and a few cookies. It has been three weeks since we have been off island so I am deep into my pantry supplies. The 2020 canned tomatoes are almost finished. We had the first salad grown in the 2021 garden, last night. Sure there was not a lot of variety of ingredients but still it was a salad grown by me from seed and picked fresh from our garden.

As the bread was rising I considered sitting down with a coffee and maybe a cookie. I needed to think about cleaning and then choose a book to read for the first time this year but the rain stopped and the sun came out. We went back up to the garden. E had a tree he wanted to murder. It was really tall and although not particularly wide people kept hitting it on the driveway. I had tons of plants which needed to be potted up and lots I could do.

My sister in law grabbed me a couple of watermelon and cantaloupe plants, yesterday, which I am going to try growing for the first time. They are planted in huge containers in the greenhouse, as an experiment, which I can move outside as the summer progresses. The flowers will probably need some help with fertilization. When the time comes, I can show you how Anne taught me to do it.

By the time we got back to the house it was 3:30 and we hadn’t eaten since 6 am. Spaghetti with sauce from our 2020 garden served with a slice of warm bread became not so much an early bird dinner special as a fashionably late lunch.

Honestly, since we moved here, I never know what time it is. I rarely know what month it is and only know it is the weekend because of increased boat traffic. We design our timetable based on the job of the day. We start when the coffee pot is empty and finish when we get tired, whether it’s noon or 3:00. We do, however, always know when it is 4:00 pm. Work is always finished by 4:00 pm cause that wine isn’t going to drink itself or as we now refer to it, calling the whales.

The house cleaning is just going to

have to wait

Do some thinking

Through the magic of sound carrying across water we generally hear whales coming toward us before we see them. So as not to miss their distinct sound I find the best position, for me, is sitting in a comfy chair in the sun, on the deck, with my feet up and my eyes closed. It is similar to E’s daily afternoon thinking position but I call this my listening position. To the casual observer it might appear like I am sleeping but I can assure you that I am listening.

I am of the opinion that the whales are always in front of our house but sometimes, for reasons only known to them, they just want to stay hidden. I have just recently discovered a new method to encourage them to reveal themselves.

Last night we decided to splurge on an $8.00 wine to go with our steak dinner. Our homemade $5.00 brew just wasn’t going to cut it as a pairing for a juicy tenderloin meal. I had no sooner opened the bottle when a pod of maybe five Orca came through the narrows in front of us. Not particularly close but good enough for a bit of a show with binoculars and a good camera.

Imagine our surprise when we zoomed in and saw a lone humpback heading the opposite direction on the other side of the pod.

Until it is time to take the vegies out of the greenhouse and plant them outside, most of the work in the garden is done. Today we continued to tidy up the construction zone and put away the left over bits of lumber. It will all get used, eventually, but for the moment it doesn’t need to be spread all over the entrance to the property. It still isn’t spit spot but it isn’t likely we are going to have company coming around so we quit early and came back to the house so I could concentrate on listening and E could

do some thinking.

Idle very long

In the five weeks since we returned from E’s annual checkup in Vancouver with a clean bill of health in hand, he has been busy.

He finished the greenhouse complete with lighting and running water.

He built a gorgeous cedar rose arbor for the garden.

He built a railing around the porch of the bunkie to ensure that most of our guests remain at the top of the hill.

He replaced all the fencing around the garden, which he described as a job worse than drywalling, and he hates drywalling. Then, he finished up the month by building a new compost bin.

Today he packed up his carpentry tools and stored them away for a while. I suspect he is hoping for a rest, perhaps a gin and tonic or two on the deck.

We find it hilarious when people say they couldn’t retire as they can’t see themselves sitting around doing nothing all day. If that is what is stopping you from retiring, move to an off grid island!

E isn’t the only islander who works so hard. Typically, even if a house on this island is finished, which rarely happens, the owner might then build a workshop or a greenhouse or a gen shed or a bunkie or a storage shed or a new garden or a yoga studio or a sauna or a hotub deck or a … you get my point.

Everyone seems to have a project or two on the go and I think it is safe to say that E and I aren’t the only ones who start new ones before the other ones are finished.

Although everyone comes here for different reasons, most who live here like to build stuff and putter. Those that don’t then hire those that do. It’s a perfect arrangement. I would not be wrong to say that, at any given moment on almost every property on this island, there is a project about to be started, underway or just finished. Considering there are no stores and all of the materials need to be carried over here by boat it is all the more impressive.

I think I mentioned we brought a barge over in March with everything we would need for all of the projects on our list for 2021. E is only half way through the list. He won’t be

idle very long