if you will

We are drinking a nice red wine to celebrate. We celebrate all things big and small. Tonight we have three things to celebrate.

Most importantly, we celebrate the anticipated arrival of a second grandchild. The role of grandparent is one which we so enjoy. We are fortunate that the parents of our first grandchild allow her to visit even if they can’t get here and we feel that, although we miss living close to them, we are able to form a bond through her ongoing visits. Our children visited the island frequently when they were young and the result was a unique and strong bond with their Papa, forged by extended visits without their parents’ influence. Our son has called upon his positive experience and relationship with his grandfather to convince his wife to share their daughter similarly with us. We are fortunate and so excited to share the island with a new family member.

Secondly, we celebrate the water situation. You will all be so thrilled to hear that as of 3:34 pm yesterday, November 11th, our water tanks are full. We have 8750 gallons in storage. For reference…

Dec 1 2018 4600 gallons June 1, 2019 3800 gallons

Nov. 19, 2019 2400 gallons June 1, 2020 3450 gallons

Nov 13, 2020 8000 gallons May 22, 2021 1600 gallons

Nov 11, 2021 8750 gallons

Although there was a point last year when our tanks were full through the benefit of rain water catchment, there was a large human error factor and we ended up beginning the gardening season, with only 1600 gallons of water. We were able to pump from the well every day, enough water to survive the summer, but I lost a lot of plants and the vegetable growing season was ended early due to a lack of water. Imagine if I had access to 6000 more gallons!!! I am filled with optimism and have started shopping for my seeds and planning my new perennial purchases for next summer. I usually put a seed order in around Christmas. Hours pouring over seed catalogues are a favorite winter pastime for any gardener.

I will tell you about my third reason to celebrate next time we chat. But I will give you a hint. One of my friends here on the island so very wisely said to me with regards to my desire to step back from my volunteering responsibilities, “if you don’t step back there is no opportunity for others to step forward” or something to that effect. It was very wise advise. This island benefits from a very active community of volunteers. But the island also has had a lot of new people arrive in the last couple of years. More, I dare say, than ever before. A changing of the guard, if you will, and the new community members deserve the chance to participate and contribute. More info to come……

E took another couple of trees down this week and the resulting firewood could well fill our sheds. A couple of nice big burn piles has cleaned up the mess and given me hours of enjoyment.

I went down to the water tonight to get you a great video of the sea lions but they didn’t show up.. So unreliable! So here is a wee video of my view as I sat by the water at dusk… A moment of zen,

if you will

question my sanity

It was a dark and stormy night, followed by an equally dark and stormy day. One of the first when I didn’t get outside to get at least one outside chore done. Well that’s not true. I went out to the wine cellar to stock up for the week. Other than that, I was pretty much planted in front of the window watching the storm. E, however, had to make a quick run across the channel to the big island to pick someone up during the storm. I was very glad my presence wasn’t required. I did, however take a picture of them out there.

My threshold for rough water has increased steadily year by year but I am still not a big fan. Every effort is made to schedule trips on calmer days but often the reasons are unavoidable. Again, as I have said before, life on this island is not for everyone. Many would find the need to drive a boat in rough water prohibitive. The dogs don’t get sea sick. Not that they travel with us very often and when they do they both sit on my lap holding on for dear life, but fortunately, they never get sick. When our granddaughter is on the boat with us and the water is rough, I spend a lot of time saying “WHEEEEE” with my hands up, kind of like a brave teenager would behave on a roller coaster.

We have had a couple of burn piles this week. As I was raking leaves on to the flames, puttering about the property adding more random branches, E looked at me and said “you are in your happy place aren’t you?” It is quite true. Even after he had gone down to the house to do some thinking after lunch, I stayed by the fire. Imagine, if you will, the peace and quiet and opportunity for reflection these times can bring someone like me who has had difficulty coping with stress and depression for years. Don’t need yoga when you have a burn pile.

We have two more trees picked out to be murdered once the weather clears. Dropping trees produces more branches and mess for more burn piles. Hopefully the next two trees will be enough to fill the wood sheds. If not, we will just keep going. There are lots of deadish trees up top in our “wood lot” beside the water tanks.

The sea lions are making their winter presence known. Every day at high tide they have a small conference in the waters below our deck. I am not sure if they are barking to discipline the stragglers or arguing about which direction they are going to swim next, but, like clockwork, ten or twenty pop their heads up like periscopes and the barking ensues. As you can imagine, their strange sounds drive our dogs nuts.

This change from daylight saving time is killing me. There have been mornings this week when I have been up at four am. It will come as no surprise when I tell you that it is very dark at 4am and I don’t have a lot of choice about how I can spend my time. But, with the heavy rain we have been having, I have the added benefit of two or three hours to listen to the rain on the metal roof without distraction. I admit, when I get out of bed at that time of the morning, the dogs look at me like they

question my sanity.

compost like usual

In today’s episode of ‘What foolish thing did that woman do this time?’, I must confess to you why E had to launch the kayak to go under the house to retrieve the canister portion of my Hoover Windtunnel vacuum cleaner off the rocks below. It had been pouring rain, I needed to dump the dust from the full canister, and I would just have to walk a few feet if I put it over the rail. Then, the dust got stuck and I tapped the canister on the rail to loosen said dust, and yadda yadda yadda, “E, we are going to need to get the kayak out!”

Our water catchment is thriving with the current rain storms. Between last night at 5pm and 7am this morning, we caught 750 gallons of water off our roof. There is a lot more rain expected this week. We are currently sitting at 6200 gallons with 2000 more gallons of water needed for our storage tanks to be full. With our new metal roof, when the rain is heavy like it has been, it is so loud in here!! We just love it. We turn the stereo down and listen to the music of the rain and grin from ear to ear…. Then, we have long baths whether we need them or not!

We christened the greenhouse on Sunday, as all greenhouses should be christened, with a couple of bottles of red wine and leftover Hallowe’en candy. We waited in the bunkie for the trick or treaters, with Frank on guard. Once all of the children (two), had come, we proceeded with the festivities. Our neighbour, and most revered gardening mentor, joined us as we sat four feet apart in the heated, lit greenhouse and had a most wonderful evening. This was as close to socializing as we have done in a long while. We have hardly seen anything of our friends. We are just not comfortable with most visitors and won’t be until the Covid numbers on Vancouver Island are in the single digits and more people are vaccinated. But, my gardening mentor is as close to a bubble as we have.

Ok, so I may have dropped half of the vacuum cleaner canister off the deck into the ocean but, in my defense, at least I was making an attempt to clean the house. Next time I will dump the dust into the

compost like usual

year old me

In the home where I was raised, we had a gorgeous fireplace with a raised hearth, located on a feature wall. It was well used and even when my Mom didn’t have two cents and we were eating beans on toast for dinner, yet again, she always had money for presto logs for the fire.

Under the grate where the logs would sit was a small heavy piece of metal which you could remove. The remnant ashes were then scraped through the hole to never be thought of again. The base of the chimney was essentially a two story empty brick box which held the ashes of over twenty-two years of my Mother’s fires, against the side of the house.

It was a brilliant invention, which I was reminded of at 5:50 am yesterday morning, when I was hiking up the driveway in the dark to get the bucket to clean out the ashes from the stove.

Another great idea in the houses where we grew up in Vancouver was ironing board cupboards built into a wall of the kitchen. It probably went out of fashion with the invention of permanent press clothes, but I remember standing at that board, every morning before work, ironing my blouse de jour, with one hand, while I held my toast in the other.

My girlfriend actually had a safe behind the TV in her parents’ den. Not sure what I would do with a safe or an ironing board cupboard here but I sure could use an ash trap door.

One idea we did steal from the house E’s Dad built here, is a hot water tap outside on the deck. Meant as a possibility for an outdoor shower, we now use it regularly to rinse the dogs before they come in the house. On a cold winter morning it seems cruel to suggest we hose them off with cold water.

A few people on the island have a cupboard next to the fireplace, with an inside and outside access, to stack the wood through the wall. Also a really brilliant idea. It wouldn’t work in this house but a great idea none the less.

Another girlfriend’s very cool parents had a hot tub outside their bedroom window. There was a tv at the window on a swivel. They went out to watch the news every night from the hot tub. Well, they said they were watching the news…..

We had an absolutely perfect day today. The weather was gorgeous. E took down an arbutus tree yesterday so today was a day of rest for his back. His main job was to put some silicone around the living room windows to further hinder the winter winds from coming into the house.

The last time the dogs went to the groomers it was close to $200.00. With our very infrequent trips to town and their need for very frequent grooming, it was time to take matters into our own hands. After thirty five years of cocker spaniel parenting, I finally bought a pair of professional dog clippers. Today, again, I tried something new.

It went very well and, with much consultation and advice from their breeder, the two dogs are both ninety percent clipped. A little bit more work for a few days this week should get their toes done and the rest of them tidied. I consider the whole exercise a great success.

How could it not be a good day when we were thinking about ideas of, and times spent, with E’s Dad and my Mom.

Happy Hallowe’een, wearing the Afghanistani hijab I borrowed from my Moms friend Maryfrank, twenty one

year old me

for sewing then

In another edition of sights outside my window, today we had a few Cormorants, which are not unusual in our waters. This is a juvenile. Then the spill response guys sat in front of the house, waiting, I presume, for me to finish my lunch and clean up any of the usual mess I make. Who told them?

I didn’t really have a plan for how I was going to spend my day, but the newsletter was finished at the printers, and our friends are able to pick it up for us in Victoria. So E and I spent the morning sorting out the mailing list and printing labels. Tomorrow, all things going well, we should be able to get it in the mail and I will be done, done, done. Diet or no diet, wine will be poured tomorrow night.

I was still able to spend a short while in the garden this afternoon, just thinking and generally planning for next year.

I have never grown Dahlias before, mostly because they sounded awfully fussy. Digging up the tubers every fall seemed like a lot of trouble for a gardener who is inherently lazy, but my friend assured me that her gorgeous Dahlias were never dug up in the fall. So I ordered some tubers and another friend gave me cuttings of her tubers and wow. What a beautiful show they continue to make in the garden. I picked these today.

The only problem is that I planted them on the wrong side of the garden, and they bloom toward the sun. I only get to see the backs of the flowers from my sitting area. I am going to dig them up soon and, in the spring, plant them on the other side of the garden, where they will remain forever.

Heavy rains are predicted for the next couple of days but next week looks good for gardening and tree murdering. We make sure to take advantage of the weather for outside chores as much as we can. The dark days of winter will be here soon enough and there will be plenty of time

for sewing then

a great one

If you are like me, you had sea lions swim past you as you read your book this afternoon.

Or maybe you have random ships coming under your deck to take a look see, like this one who came by at dinner.

Sometimes the boats that come by, aren’t sight seeing but working, like this log salvager who came by last week.

Or this tug that came past during yesterday’s storm.

Even if there are no whales there is always something for us to watch on the waters out our window.

E had one of those frustrating off grid weeks which is, strangely, also satisfying for him.

Friday afternoon was going along just fine when, out of nowhere, we lost all power. Sure we live off grid but we do have a power system. Power for lights, fridge etc. supplied by our battery bank which is powered by solar when it’s sunny and a generator when it isn’t. It all went dead. E spent a couple of hours figuring out what was going on. It turned out the wire to our well pump was shorting out and tripping the system to cause a fault in the inverter. When the weather gets better he can fix it but in the mean time we just won’t pump water from the well. He turned the well pump circuit breaker off and the system was able to function again. Just before dark, we were sorted.

After a couple of dark and stormy days, E went to start the generator to charge the batteries this morning. It was working just fine yesterday. But this morning it wouldn’t start. He headed up to the gen shed for a couple of hours of problem solving. He was back for lunch with a functioning generator. It looked like a problem with the glow plugs as the preheat indicator wasn’t glowing, so he cleaned up some of the connections, put them back together and the generator started again. This is a 7 k Kubota diesel generator which is very old, normally very reliable and will probably still be working long after we have left this mortal coil. Sometimes it just needs a hug, as it were, like we all do.

This life really isn’t for everyone … but for someone who likes to solve puzzles, it’s a great one.