When we moved here eight years ago we expected our life would be much like it is now, fairly isolated and spending the majority of our time alone. This will be our ninth winter here and until now our time was filled with more socializing than one would ever expect on an off grid remote island. I imagine this winter there will likely be fewer dinner parties and more campfires.
Properties on the island have been selling like hot cakes this summer and there are a lot of new people. E figures 30 properties have changed hands recently. The island only has 190. With Covid there are no opportunities to properly say goodbye to friends leaving or properly welcome those who are new. Our sad goodbyes will have to be implied and our welcomes better expressed next summer. E and I are pretty committed to isolating so ironically our ninth winter will likely be as we expected all of them would be. A lot of time alone.
Today was a day in the garden for me. It is the time of year when I murder plants I have grown tired of, move unhappy ones to new homes and prune the heck out of others. With such a small flower garden, real estate is expensive and can’t be wasted on plants I don’t love.
I had planned on growing fewer vegetables this summer and increasing the flower garden area. Then covid arrived and I thought it would be prudent to grow more food. The vegetables this summer were beyond successful and I will continue next year, however I will plant way fewer tomatoes! This year’s harvest has been madness!
Seven months. It has been seven months since I had a haircut. I have spent the last week trying to convince E, with no success, to cut my hair. Honestly, if he can figure out how to install gas lines and solar power in our house with just a visit to Youtube why can’t he use the same resource to learn to cut my hair. How hard
Preparations continue for winter. Small jobs, nothing big, regular maintenance. Today, E dealt with the weather station.
It was all well and good to note that it was really windy out or raining heavily, but how much? Our weather station sits at the edge of the cliff and is linked to the Weather Underground app. It can be monitored anywhere.
We are in the lea of a large rock face which protects us from southern winds, so our station isn’t accurate for how bad it might be out on the water in front of us… but you get the idea.
We have learned what we long suspected – that our temperatures are consistently four degrees warmer than on Vancouver island right in front of us.
E climbed out on the cliff edge to change the batteries and clean the rain gauge. The gauge hasn’t worked all year so hopefully my numbers will be more complete next year. As you can see we have pretty mild temperatures year round.
Last January, we were all ticking along quite happily with slightly colder temperatures at night and then, suddenly boom, it dropped to -4. None of us were expecting it. It only lasted two days but in the meantime almost everyone I know had problems with their water supplies.
It wasn’t a particularly harsh winter storm in the grand scheme of things but the extra three degree drop happened so unexpectedly there was a wide variety of burst pipes around the island. Our tap at the well cracked and unknowingly dripped for weeks.
I made my first gluten free pumpkin spice muffins today. Honestly, the house smells so good. I love the fall.
The winter nature show is starting up. We had our first sea lion pass under the deck this morning. Fingers crossed for lots of great pics
I am officially sick of canning so I took a break today to deal with the largest pumpkin.
Pumpkins with their stem intact will keep for a nice long while over the winter. But someone who shall remain nameless, who is regretting her error, picked up the 23 pound pumpkin by the stem and broke it off. Today, then, became pumpkin roasting day.
You can see why I love these Cinderella pumpkins. So much meat on them.. 400 degrees for an hour to roast. Then I skin them and put the flesh through the food mill three times and drain the juices most of the day. Several hours later ten cups of pumpkin puree for the freezer.
With the solar panel project finished E is enjoying a more reasonably paced work schedule. One job a day is our mantra. Today, he cleaned the chimney. Something he does once a year. A great September job. Took all of an hour but qualified him to take the rest of the day off.
There is crazy smoke on the water right now with the California wildfires burning. Not sure how much worse this year can get.
We are aware we are so very fortunate to be where we are and our kids are employed and safe. But what a (pardon my language) shitty summer. I have spent the better part of the last six weeks sleeping on the couch with a non serious yet bothersome health problem. I can optimistically now say I have turned the corner and am on the mend. In fact, I even have a glass of wine in my hand.
Perhaps, I will finally feel like writing again. Maybe, you will get
Sunday morning, 9AM, and 17 pints of salsa canned and sitting on the counter waiting for winter feasts of nachos and guac.
It has been a successful summer stocking the pantry and, if you don’t mind me boring you, lets look at the tally.
16.5 pints of red pepper jelly, 33 pints antipasto, 8.5 pints green tomato relish, 17 pints salsa, and 15 quarts of tomato sauce. Beets and apples to come.
We raised four Cinderella pumpkins. The largest is 23 pounds. Same seeds, same soil, same watering, but crazy variety in size.
The garden has never been so prolific. I planted half the tomatoes I have normally planted. Twenty four plants produced 120 pounds, so far. I think their success is due to a couple of things I did differently this year. Larger spaces between plants, A very healthy spring dressing of sea soil, a watering pipe to the root of each plant (not shared between two) and watering with fish pond water.
We pumped fresh rainwater from the bunkie catchment tank into the pond and the pond water back into the tank. That smelly fish poopy water was then used on the veggies.
E has finished installing the eight new solar panels and an additional charge controller. They are solidly attached to the island, wired into the existing house system and 4800 watts of power humming along beautifully. They may be ugly to you but when we don’t have to carry fuel to the island and are able to stay here until the day when our kids can’t find a pulse, I think
I had all the fixins for Gina’s recipe. It was going to rain, and E had time to help me, so, feeling crummy or not, it was antipasto day on Friday. I started at 5:30 a.m. dealing with my ripened tomatoes. E was back from walking the dog by 7 and we got to work. Six hours later, everything was diced or sliced or blanched or drained. Five hours after that, 33 pints of Gina’s gorgeous antipasto and four quarts of tomato sauce was pressure canned. One hour after that, I was asleep. There was a reason I hadn’t made this recipe in 22 years. It takes 21 years to recover!
Someone, who shall remain nameless but has big floppy ears and a cotton tail, has found a way into the garden and has been pulling my tomato branches down to the ground. He doesn’t eat the tomatoes just the tomato leaves, ignoring the carrot tops next to them. I have a great recipe for green tomato relish, which our family likes, so they won’t go to waste but jeeez…
I am canning as fast as possible. Every second day I cook what is ripe and refrigerate. Then, on the fourth day, I can. The wee ones I use for roasting and freeze for pizza. This is today’s haul.
I was in the garden this morning when friends texted there were whales heading toward me. Two adults and a baby. Didn’t these kayakers have a special day?
Finally, my favourite picture of the week. A baby Kingfisher sat still on the branch by my deck long enough for me to
I woke up in my three quarter antique Jenny Lind bed down the hall from my Mom in the bedroom where my Grandma had slept for twenty five years. It was my wedding day and although E and I had been living together for two years, superstition more than virtue mandated that E and I couldn’t see each other until the ceremony. So I spent the night with Mom in the house where I grew up.
The wedding was outside at sunset at Cecil Green Park. We paid for it ourselves and couldn’t afford the weekend rental rate so we got married on a Wednesday. My dress was $100.00, and our rings were passed down from my Grandma. We had an open bar and served sandwiches that my family had made in Mom’s kitchen that morning. We couldn’t afford the photographer and the wedding photos so we hired him and then saved up another year before we ordered the album.
We saved the top layer from the traditional wedding cake in our freezer and had a piece every year on our anniversary for ten years. I had heard that it was good luck.
My brother walked me down the aisle, and we were piped in as a tribute to my Grandma. My sister was my maid of honor, my niece, my flower girl. My uncle, the officiant and my mother my greatest fan.
The next day we sailed into the cove on this island where we now keep our boat. E’s father had lent us his 27 foot Catalina sailboat for a two week honeymoon through the gulf islands. As we sat with our coffee on the deck of the boat the next morning watching the sun rise, we swore that one day we would live in this paradise.
Thirty eight years later, whether due to my wedding day deference to superstition or just plain dumb