to help you

We are as prepared as we can be for winter. With the ongoing drought we can’t proceed with firewood accumulations or tidy the property with burn piles but everything else is pretty much done.

We have cleaned the chimney and the wood stove, upgraded the septic system, cleaned out debris from the eavestroughs, and stocked the freezer and pantry. Some of our family were here for Thanksgiving and stacked tons of firewood under the cover at the front door for easy access. All of the spring bulbs are planted and shrubs have been repositioned in the garden. There are very few urgent chores left to do and it was a beautiful day on the water, so we thought we would take a bit of time this morning to go out on the boat and drop the prawn traps.

Now, I should mention at this point that we rarely attempt prawning anymore because something always goes wrong. Past disappointments include stolen traps, traps lost to tug boats, traps which opened prematurely releasing the catch and any number of other mishaps which long ago convinced us to give up our nets and buy our shellfish at the store. But, as the optimist in me might say, hope springs eternal.

At 8:48 am we dropped the traps and I took this lovely photo to memorize a really pretty moment on the water.

Then the engine on the boat died. I had forgotten my phone and E had only enough power on his to get a quick call for help out to our friend Kathy. She brought out 7 gallons of gas but it wasn’t enough to get us going so she was then kind enough to tow us back to the marina. She is a good friend to have.

Our gas gauge isn’t working but we have lived here long enough not to run out of gas. Seemed unlikely that it was as simple as running out of gas but once safely tied up to the dock E put a few more jugs in and took the cover off the engine to try to figure it out. We have also lived here long enough to know not to go out on the water without charged phones but…

Another friend came down to the dock to help us out. Brad, I have mentioned in four previous blog posts when he has helped us with mechanical problems. He is another good friend to have. This island, thankfully, is full of them.

They put fresh gas into the water separator and fresh gas into the onboard fuel filter. After five hours of further tinkering and 75 more litres of gas, the boat was working well enough to retrieve the prawn traps. We finally had some success on that front as we were rewarded with 130 prawns.

Ok, so what did we learn living off the grid today? Always carry extra gas, always have your charged phone with you and, if you are going to insist on living on a remote island, find your self some friends who will literally stand on their head over water

to help you

home my friends

The weather is gorgeous and making up for the perfectly miserable spring we had. The drought conditions, which accompany these sunny days, are unusual and making me regret my August clean hair and reckless garden watering . Normally, if I can keep the plants in the garden alive until the end of August with the water we have saved, I am home free and it looked like we were, but then it never rained. This year, we are depending on the kindness of our neighbours who have generously shared some extra water with us to keep our hygiene up to minimum standards.

May 10.42 mm32.0 mm
June 36.81 mm50.30 mm
July177.80 mm29.46 mm
August 3.81 mm 3.56 mm
September254.50 mm 0
October108.71 mm 0
Totals 592.05 mm = 23 inches and 15,000 gallons115.32 mm = 4.6 inches and 3000 gallons
*Rain water collected after pollen season ended at the end of April

With all this continued sunshine the greenhouse tomatoes and sweet peppers continue to produce. Not a lot, but a few of each, every day, to keep us going. The greenhouse has been a great addition to the garden and I love having it. I have been dehydrating the peppers for winter soups and sauces with great success.

With any luck we will have vegies into November and seed starting in the spring will be much simpler.

When I harvested my garlic in July I saved twenty to divide and plant this fall. I neglected to store them in a cool dry place, and instead let them cook on a shelf in the 40 degree greenhouse. They melted. So this week I had to spend $40.00 on twenty more and was then able to plant 210 cloves in the garden to harvest and dehydrate next year.

With the garlic planted all that is left to get in the ground are the spring flower bulbs. I have some daffodils ready to go and there are 150 grape hyacinth sitting at the post office waiting to go in the ground. Winter projects have now come to the top of my to do list.

I finished, and I mean finally finished, my daughter’s quilt and was able to give it to them this weekend. It has been sitting beside my bed staring at me every morning, unfinished, for years. It mocked me and the fact that my hands can in no way quilt another king sized quilt. The one I did a couple of years ago just about killed me. I couldn’t hold a fork for months. My dearest friend in the whole wide world came to the rescue and arranged for it to be machine stitched in Victoria. (Love you, Hil) Now, I am guilt free to look at a new project for the winter. Something wine themed maybe???

To complete today’s update it should be mentioned that our eagles returned from their summer fishing trip today. These two have been with us since we moved here and daily entertain me and give us reasons to get the camera out. In the mornings we awake to their call outside our window. They are nothing if not consistent, last year they came back on October 9th.


home my friends

on the job

What would happen, we asked ourselves last night, if we just for one entire day stayed in our jammies and read? Maybe do a crossword puzzle while staring out the window at the view. Maybe have a nap or two. We are retired, why couldn’t we? The decision was thus made that we would do absolutely nothing today.

We slept in. I got up at 6:30 but E didn’t get up until almost noon, well it was 8 am but still almost noon! I noticed on a few local Facebook groups, while drinking my coffee that there were both Orca and Humpback whale sightings in the local waters so I opened the windows to listen for the unmistakable woosh sound.

With the continuing mild weather we still haven’t needed to light a fire in the morning and with no rain in sight we likely won’t need one for a while. It could be a month later than last years Sept. 11th start of colder weather before we need more than an extra sweater in the morning. But I confess that I needed a blanket as well as an extra sweater today after I opened all of the windows for a potential a whale visit.

But the morning wore on and there was no sign of anything interesting swimming by. E wandered off to the bedroom to think for a while after lunch while I finished my book. Still sitting by my open window, book in hand I nodded off. I can’t/don’t as a rule ever sleep during the day but the sun was shining and well, stranger things have happened. I honestly had only closed my eyes for a second when there was the loudest heaving thunk/splash/whoosh twenty feet from my head. It sounded like the deck outside my window had fallen into the ocean. An enormous humpback had snuck up and breached. It scared the S#@t out of me.

In my defense we have done more socializing in the last week than we have in years, the garden is well under control, E has finished two major fall projects he had on his list and it is a beautiful sunny day to watch the nature channel for something to blog about. But I admit, if all that I am meant to accomplish this winter is to capture amazing up close wildlife pictures for you, like a whale breaching next to the deck, well then, today, I literally fell asleep

on the job

in the greenhouse

The last time our family camped at Hayne’s Point, in Osoyoos, it was 1997, and a small hurricane swept through and overturned all the campsites. My friend was also there camping with her family. Do you remember it Cindy? I think the winds tore the roof off the high school gym. It was a unique and fun trip. When we returned home, I popped into the grocery store to grab some milk and it was there that I heard at the check out counter that Princess Diana had died.

I have packed up the majority of the vegie garden and the numbers are in. With over eighty pounds of tomatoes harvested, I canned 18 quarts, made a huge batch of pasta sauce for the freezer and we have dined on tomato salads for the last month. They are still coming but I have run out of canning steam and am freezing them whole now. They will get used in the minestrone soup recipe I got from my sister. In addition to the tomatoes we also harvested twenty pounds of pumpkin which will see us nicely through the winter with pies and muffins and soup.

My friend posted a picture of her passion flower this summer so I grabbed one on sale for five dollars. It seems happy already. There are a few flowers still brightening the garden scape.

Two weeks ago I was sitting alone in my greenhouse far away from the world at large, trying to save seeds from my yellow tree peony, humming an Ed Sheeran song, when I received a text from my dear friend who has lived in Chicago since the 70’s. She had heard from her neighbour about the death of the Queen and was good enough to think of me and share the news.

If somewhat depressing, an interesting conversation starter at a dinner party could be how you heard about all the “important” deaths/events ie. Churchill, JFK, Lennon, Space Challenger, 911, Diana. etc. I used the word important because I can’t think of a better one but you know what I mean.

For me now, with the death of the Queen, I will always remember the moment that I received that text from Barb as I sat on a summer’s day

in the greenhouse

He was here

Work has begun on the new peony garden. Some of you might remember last spring, in a desperate effort to find more garden to plant, I dug up what I thought was a shallow bed of Bearded Iris, only to find an actual garden bed full of soil. The bed has been dug out now and the iris transplanted about the garden as well as shared among friends.

Today I divided most of my peony and planted 17 plants in the new bed. There are white as well as a variety of pink shades. The plan is to intersperse a few blue ground covers amongst them tomorrow as well as some of the Bearded Iris. Then I just have to cross my fingers and wait til June to see if my vision worked. In two or three years they should all be well settled into their new home and happy.

We try to limit trips to town over the winter to once per month and we have the supplies (wine) to support that plan, but veggies are always a struggle. Frozen pasta sauce full of veggies is a staple, but today I planted winter kale, swiss chard and lettuce to augment the menu a bit.

I am proud to tell you that we had lazy cabbage rolls for dinner tonight. (Layer the sliced cabbage instead of rolling it) Normally this would be nothing to brag about but for the first time, this year, I grew cabbage successfully. So tonight’s casserole was made with my tomatoes, my garlic and my cabbage. All started by seed grown by me, the once city girl.

Walking down the driveway to the house, after my chores were done in the garden, there was the unmistakable sound of a whale in front of the deck. One lone humpback passing by. The photos aren’t exciting but prove

he was here

works for us

The harvest from our wee fig tree this summer was up from last year’s 18 to 32. Figs aren’t something we normally would use or buy so I had no favorite recipes where I could use them. I did find one for a fig jam using ingredients readily at hand. Figs, check. Merlot, check. Rosemary, check. Simple recipe and everything I needed is home grown or made. By noon we were done our day’s project with thirteen 1/2 pint jars of fig jam as our reward. Thank you to our Okanagan family for giving us the tree.

The final count for our plum tree is in. Three. The raccoon got one and E and I will each get one.

To emphasize what a wet and late spring we had. I would just like to mention that it is unheard of on this island to have green grass in September.

Crazy winds today. Very glad we have no need to be on the water. I have tried before to take pictures to show stormy seas but they never adequately show the enormity of the waves. You are going to have to trust me on this one.

I need to talk water for a minute. I won’t blame you if you leave to maybe come back another day.

We started the summer (July 8) with 7000 gallons. Over the summer we have changed the 250 gallon hot tub water three times, had weeks upon weeks of family visiting (showering), power washed the deck to stain it and watered the garden liberally. We have made it through the summer without any restrictions and used our water like we were in the city. Summer is over, the plants have all thrived and we still have 1000 gallons in the bank. Rains will start up fairly soon and those tanks will refill in no time. Having water, makes life so much more pleasant, all around.

What a difference from last year. We started last July with 3500 gallons. We scrimped and saved every ounce. No laundry, minimal showers and limited dish washing. We lost a ton of plants and were down to about 500 gallons before the rains started. It was brutal.

We have an idea of what we would like to accomplish this winter and I can tell you honestly it is going to be different. I have cut back on all of my usual obligations with only one or two items remaining on my to do list. E’s usual chore list is drastically reduced with no big projects on the horizon.

The island is emptying. Friends are returning to their city lives. Our children have returned to their responsibilities. Life for us has been quiet this summer but will only now get quieter. We have found an easy rhythm to our days which

works for us