just a bit

This post is a little racy so, if you are easily shocked, perhaps take the night off and come back tomorrow for more discussion about water tanks, whales and such.

If you are like me you had a wonderful day in the greenhouse potting up tomatoes, until you were disturbed by the excessive love making of the otter who seem to have taken over the cliff next to the garden. You probably thought it improper to video their activities but I didn’t. In my never ending desire to entertain my readers with the realities of our life on the nature channel, I present to you..

Love otter style. Sound up!

It would not be an exaggeration to state that there are a gazillion tomatoes right now in my greenhouse. It isn’t just tomatoes, there are peppers and cabbage and marigolds. Millions of them!! With the weather cooperating now, I am fairly optimistic they will all survive, as long as they can get properly potted up this month. In truth, although a little overwhelming at times, I quite enjoy it. It is cathartic.

We spent our first night in this house on the nature channel exactly ten years ago. As you can see, things have changed,

just a bit.

would see you

My high school years were the inspiration for “That 70’s show” except, at our hangout, there were a lot more of us and “Eric” had a black lab named Duke. It is inconceivable to me that it was fifty years ago that we threw the caps of our little brown stubbies into a giant basket by the basement TV while his Mother baked pies upstairs. Weather permitting we would move our partying to bonfires at Spanish Banks West.

Over the years, one of the high school gang would give me a call if he was in town, and we would go for a drink. Once his parents were gone he had no reason to come back to Vancouver. He could never understand why I never left, he couldn’t wait to leave. We met in Kindergarten and he was a part of most of the major events of my formative years. We progressed from elementary school to hanging with the high school gang in a basement to, I don’t know how to describe it… He taught me how to do my taxes, lectured me on skipping out of high school classes and at one point, when I was 20, drove me to Abbotsford and forced me to meet my father for the first time. He took me to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid on a motorcycle over the Lions Gate Bridge.

In ’81 he flew in to see his parents and we met for our usual drink. It was different this time though ’cause I had met, and was living with E. He said to me “you seem different”. I told him I was really happy and was going to marry “this new guy”. He promised to come back from Saudi for our wedding, and he did.

As E and I now sit in the hot tub when the sun goes down, enjoying the view with sea lions randomly peeking their heads up to look at us, we acknowledge that we are indeed living our best life. We are so fortunate to have each other and to have these days still together. Life is so friggin’ short, we do not take them for granted.

The last time I saw Bill was at the local Ladner pub in 2008. He called, ’cause he was in town wrapping up his Mom’s affairs. I managed to track down three of the other guys and E came to take a picture. After 60 years of friendship with you Bill, and yes you will always be Bill to me, not Stu, I just assumed our random drinks together would go on ’til, well forever.

I didn’t realize this would be the last time

I would see you

lot of projects

I was up early this morning, as usual, and was greeted with thunder, lightning and hail. HAIL! It is April 12. APRIL 12! I don’t mean to reduce this blog to a discussion of the weather but geez I am fed up.

All of the baby veggie plants have been moved down to the house and are huddled around the fire. I am having a plant sale/garden party in May, and have received great support from my friends. More than half of the plants have already been spoken for. A few types are even sold out. Hopefully the tomato gods will look kindly on my little babies and provide me with the beauty plants we had last year. I gave away 55 last year.

This year I am charging, basically to cover the costs of the soil, but am providing wine and cheese in return. I have sent the flyer out to my gardening friends on the island who have wanted tomatoes before. If I missed you let me know.

E has benefitted from the adage, ‘happy wife happy life’, when I have had ideas of how to improve our life, so he is usually pretty good about supporting my project ideas. However, nothing happens faster on this property than a project which is his idea. Not only was the hot tub project his but it is one he has been lobbying for since we got here. His back causes him endless problems and on more days than not he walks about the house in the same position as his Grandma P.

We picked up the hot tub on Saturday. E power washed the deck when we got home. During a brief warm spell on Sunday he stained a small portion of the deck and it had cured by this morning when, during the hail storm, E put the tub on it. It has been filled with 250 gallons of hot water from our Bosch on-demand hot water heater and is now sitting on the deck waiting for the hockey game to finish (and the rain) to have our first bottle of wine under the stars.

I have been hesitant to have a wood fire heated hot tub anywhere near our house, and resisted the whole concept, until our friends highly recommended a Softtub. These tubs run on 110 volts and will use maybe 2.5 kwh per day with all seven jets running for 20 minutes a day. With our 16 solar panels and 5000 watts of power we should be in good shape. During winter we might need to top up power with a wee generator but we are prepared to accept the cost.

I became more supportive of the hot tub idea once I realized E would feel better with a soak after working on my projects. This water in this tub is always hot so he can pop in and out all day to rest his back between my projects and I have a

lot of projects

sooner than later

We had planned to clean and stain the deck at some point this summer. Due to avoidable circumstances within our control we decided to advance that chore to the top of the to do list. We bought a product called 30 Seconds deck cleaner yesterday while we were in town and E began to clean the deck with it today. We did a really thorough clean last fall but, before staining, we need to get all of the newly fallen pollen off the boards.

I didn’t sleep a wink Thursday night listening to the crazy winds outside our window. They had come out of nowhere. I knew we had to go to town Friday, as we had a very long list of things to do yesterday, and had no choice but to go across. Well, that’s not true. We could have cancelled but it would have made today’s trip to town to pick up our new toy completely unmanageable. The only way for me to survive the project at hand was to divide the tasks involved between the two days. Fortunately, by the time we went across, the winds had sat back a bit and the trip wasn’t too bad. We have had much worse.

I have transferred 141 tomatoes from the peat pods to their starter pots, planted in Pro Mix. I took their peat pod wrappers off before planting. This is the last stop they will make before they go into one gallon pots. From the one gallon pots they will be ready to be planted outside at the end of May. The greenhouse still isn’t warm enough for them so the starts are still down at the house.

Have you noticed the price of Honey Crisp Apples? I long ago took them off my shopping list but E came across an article on growing apple trees from seed. So we saved our pennies and bought one Honey Crisp apple for $2.63, to split between the two of us, and then saved the seeds. First we lay the seeds in a wet paper towel and dusted them with cinnamon. They were then placed in a plastic bag in the fridge for a month. The seeds sprouted so I planted them in little peat pods of their own. They appear to be alive. I will keep you posted on their progress. Theoretically, my four year old granddaughter should be able to pick the first apples off this tree to bring to her Papa and Nan at the old folks home.

We picked a stain color we think we will like from Home Depot (Behr Stonehedge solid colour waterproofing exterior stain) but we have been fooled before so only bought one gallon to test it out and see what we think when we see it on the deck. The next time we have a bit of warm weather E will stain a test square on the big deck about the size of a hot tub ‘cause a patch that size needs to be stained

sooner than later

Would be weird

Last week, we went to Vancouver for E’s annual cardiac testing. ECG, Echo, X-rays and blood work are all the usual tests. He hasn’t had a heart biopsy since his tenth year but he probably had forty of them in the early years. Angiograms are every five years. Test result days used to be incredibly stressful.

Once upon a time, doctors came from far and wide (both VGH and St. Pauls) to examine E and try to diagnose what was killing his heart. The top cardiologist in the transplant clinic took control of E’s case, as he was determined to solve the puzzle. Twenty-two years ago, E, or at least his health, was interesting. Papers were written about the 43 year old otherwise healthy male who had suddenly become ill.

Today was going to be the first really warm day of spring so I packed my day bag and headed to the garden early with a long list of goals to accomplish. I won’t call them chores ‘cause that word implies a distasteful task and the items on the list were anything but.

I planted up 18 pumpkins (Cinderella, Pepita, Small Sugar) in one gallon pots. Five pickling cucumbers (Calypso ) are planted in smaller pots as are 25 sweet burpless (Sweet garden) cucumbers. Six trays of peas and some baby hydrangeas were planted too. I potted up about fifty tomatoes yesterday and will plant another fifty or so when I get more ProMix on the weekend.

No sign of any humpback whales yet, this spring but we have had Orca come by twice this week. One afternoon I was sitting in my chair drinking my hot water when the whole of J Pod, 20 Orca, filled the channel in front of me as they travelled north. Honestly, I love living here.. (You might have guessed)

I didn’t come back down to the house ‘til 3, so there was plenty of time to meet my goals as well as chill out by the pond, watching the birds and enjoying the peace and quiet. It was truly a wonderful day and hopefully only the first of many in a long, flower filled summer of relaxation.

In these days of Covid restrictions and after 22 years living without incident with his new heart, there are no more in person examinations from teams of doctors. Test results now come by phone. His Cardiologist happened to call to discuss his health and give him the good news today while E was on the trampoline. To be clear, he wasn’t actually jumping on the trampoline during the call with his doctor, ‘cause that

would be weird

for four Blundstones

Time is often measured with abstract humour. Pop culture defines one Scaramucci as equivalent to ten days. We tell our dogs we are leaving them for ferry trips. If we go out for dinner with friends, we tell them we will be back in two ferry trips. My favorite measurement for time is Valpolicellas. One is equal to the length of a hockey game. Two, if it’s a playoff game with overtime.

As I previously mentioned, I was worried about my seeds in the greenhouse, so I brought them down to the house. There isn’t the variety I had hoped for but there are 115 still alive. I ordered some more seeds just in case, so if they arrive in time I will be able to fill in types where we are lacking. For those of you interested, there are a ton of my favorite Bob Cat, lots of Heinz and plenty of San Marzano. There are also 30 cucumber !!! When I get to the potting up stage I will confirm what I will have to share with islanders.

This is the view from my rose headquarters this afternoon as I worked in the greenhouse while it rained.

The roses in the greenhouse are doing better than expected. Thirty one, at this point, are alive and thriving. I brought a couple of cuttings from my friend’s garden in Ladner so may have as many as thirty five roses to add to my garden!!! I do not have room for thirty five new roses so may have some to share.

We walked into the shoe store at the mall while we were in town and a young fellow eagerly met us at the door. He had very obviously never set foot in a forest or on an island or probably, for that matter, walked on dirt. I told him we were there for new shoes. His eyes immediately went to our feet and he gasped. “How long have you had those?!?….. Four years, we proudly announced and, I added with great pride, “Four years and I have worn them all day, every day.”

I realized fairly early on, I was going to need to wear a solid boot to live on this island. There is no even ground and, without good shoes, the soles of my feet feel every rock and boulder, not to mention the very real possibility of slipping on my ass in the mud. The boots had to have traction on the hills, and also when jumping on and off boats and shoveling dirt in the garden. There is no time for tying laces so they have to be slip on. Which brought us to Blundstone boots. They are very expensive (268.00) but literally the only shoe I own and, as I mentioned, they held up for four years of island abuse. Well worth the 18 cents a day they have cost me so far and they are still good enough for gardening.

After our purchase from the city slicker, I now also have a pair of boots for activities which require dressing up in our good jeans and clean flannel. The life of one pair of Blundstones we can now equate to four years. Our plan is to live here

for four Blundstones.