Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Feel Powerless & that's no snow-job

Wednesday, the snow line on the mountains has dropped considerably over the last few days. This picture taken from the front deck, shows the snow line and the highway grade. It was nice of this coastguard patrol boat to pass by for the photo-op. There is snow in the forecast next week and temperatures as low as -9c. This means I'll be stacking firewood in the carport to avoid trips to the woodshed!
With more power interruptions scheduled for the same time period as the snow, we'll be heating the house with the wood stove for most of the day. Rumour is that the power cable replacement is going well and may be ahead of schedule. The cable scow and dive boat have been criss-crossing Baynes Sound for the past few days, pulling up old cable and laying the new ones. The scheduled power interruptions have been exactly as we were advised... right down to the minute, (although I did have a loaf of banana bread in the oven for one of them). By the end of next week we should be all done with the power interruptions. The picture (right) shows the scow with a large crew, I counted at least twelve workers, (not including the other vessels).
Thursday, while walking the pooch, the Quinitsa was doing an emergency drill which involved lowering an inflatable overboard and driving it around for some time before being hosted back on board. This picture shows the inflatable being hoisted out of the water.

SNOW, (and more power failures planned and unplanned) have plagued the island. Our version of "the big dump" of snow blessed us with about 14 inches of the white stuff. This post is finally being uploaded on Tuesday Nov. 28 as there just hasn't been any reliable power. If it wasn't failed cables, it was a wind storm or fallen trees weighted down with heavy snow. On Sunday, we hunkered down and kept the wood-stove stoked and endured an eighteen hour power failure... Around dinnertime, just as we were considering what to cook on the "Old Green", our Coleman stove, our neighbour called and invited us over for dinner, as well as a couple of other neighbours... (he has a gas stove)... how neighborly !!

The snowy landscape here is simply breathtaking. A young lady we encountered while walking yesterday summed it up, as she said "I feel like I'm in a postcard". The picture on the left is our country road.
As schools were closed on Monday, Ashley and her friend Stephanie made use of the driveway, which beacame a bobsled run. The snow removal here is as good as anywhere. A grader makes a couple of passes each day and the town center and ferry hill are kept bare. The side roads? Well, it's best to own a 4X4.
All in all, it's been an eventfull week and it's been nice not to have to worry about going anywhere if we don't want to. The pantry and wine cellar are well stocked, and a trail has been blazed to the woodshed.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thar She Blows (again)

More high winds, 70-90KPH, buffeted the Island on Sunday. This time it hit the island square on the coast facing Baynes Sound. This was all well and good until tree branches began bouncing off the front of the house. The glass deck survived, and I think (and hope) this was an unusual occurrence. The roads and yards are full of tree branches and debris and there was lots of evidence of trees that had fallen across some of the roads. As most here own a chainsaw, these are handled quickly... frankly, I'm not sure who would do it if the residents couldn't. All the camping gear, like Coleman stoves and lanterns are being kept close at hand. Some power cable work that was done early last week, apparently didn't take as we have been forewarned that there will be power interruptions over the next week or so. The rains have been torrential at times and our little stream and piddly waterfall have taken on a new look. (see photo) The ferry is currently supplying its own power for the ramp, and even this was on the fritz Monday morning, causing a sailing delay and long lineups.
Speaking of our ferry.... the QUINITSA is scheduled for a major overhaul this winter and will out of service for 4 months. The summer Hornby Island ferry, the Kahloke will take its place. A larger Ferry is used in winter for Hornby, as the seas are too rough in Lambert Channel for the Kahloke .... Which has me wondering, how it will fare should we have another storm similar to the ones we've had over the last week. I also wonder how it will manage to service us as it has a 28 car capacity as opposed to the QUINITSA's 50 car capacity. Denman residents have been asked to avoid using the heavy Hornby use sailings .... should be interesting!

Our first Denman Island Vegan Potluck was on Saturday. Once each month, (except in summer) everyone is invited to bring a vegan dish for a communal dinner and to hear a guest speaker. I thought the meal was surprisingly good. (No, I didn't take the ribs, maybe next time.) The speaker this month was Paul George, a founder of the Canada Wilderness Committee. There was a slide show and an introduction to his new book "BIG TREES, NOT BIG STUMPS" ( and a book signing of course). Kari and I agreed that we'd do this again, with a little more adventure emphasis on the recipe submission.

The Sunday Night Coffee House (or whatever you bring to drink), featured Norman Liota, a classically trained guitarist, that played and sang his stories. I think everyone there was impressed with his amazing skill with the guitar. (Curt would have enjoyed this one) Speaking of which, there is now a link to Curt & Denise's Blog on my link list on the right margin. And click on this link to hear a little of Norman Liota's music.

The bathroom reno is chugging along, with the drywall hung and taped. By the end of the week all the mudding and sanding should be complete with a coat of primer and paint. Sometime this week, I'll have to scout out a new cabinet as the old one could not be saved.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Batten down the hatches

Clay has made his way to Denman for some recovery and R&R. We went on a hike along Railway Marsh on a beautiful clear day. After the walk, we decided to explore some of the back roads and came to a dead end with a trail leading to a sand beach on the northeast side of the a island. We walked to the northern tip of the island and as it was high tide, we could not walk to Sandy Island. This is definately a place I'll be frequenting during the summer!

Friday November 10th, Clay & I went to REMEMBER JERRY. The "Greatfully Dedicated" performed Grateful Dead standards to a small energetic crowd of about 80. In a community where the entertainment dollar is often stretched, a 54-40 concert the week before likely drained the jam jar as the entertainment was better than the turnout showed.

On the 11th, we headed off to Ucluelet for some birthday celebrations. Good food and wine with some beach hikes mixed in were the highlights. A thunder storm one night woke everyone in the house and was the subject of the breakfast conversation the next morning. A hike on Long Beach, (Florencia Bay) topped off our visit. This will likely be the last time we enjoy these surroundings and I look forward to new places and new adventures somewhere on the "east side" of the Island where Sue & Bill will re-locate.

Tuesday night and Wednesday we had the full breadth and depth of the honkin storm that hit southern BC. We've had power failures Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for 2-6 hours in length. As of this writing, about 1/2 of Denman and all of Hornby are still without power. The wind littered our property with branches of all sizes and our little waterfall became a raging torrent. At one point, the metal roof on my shed began to peel off in the wind and needed some quick repair to rescue it. After each failure, our community water system has to be re-set, so the trips up to the pump house have been frequent. We are well prepared with Coleman lanterns and stove, candles and flashlights so we managed pretty well, however; I'm thinking a generator could come in handy in the future.

Between power failures, Clay & I have been gutting the main bathroom. Everything has been ripped out and will be replaced. A new tub, low flush toilet, and cabinet will be installed along with a new floor and drywall. Having a plumber staying here has it's perks.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Denman Island + Full Moon + 54-40 = ???

It felt a lot like a big house party as 54-40 played the Denman Community Hall last night. The band was relaxed and made it look easy to play tight. Two power failures ( the first one 30 seconds into the first song) didn't seem to phase them.... the second power problem turned into an un-amplified keyboard solo till the breakers could be reset. The sold out house was rockin' to all the 54-40 standards + some new stuff, I think Kari & I sat out 2 songs all night. There was a broad mix of ages and everyone partied together. In some ways this community is quite advanced, in that we can party in a community facility, smoke a joint or have a few beers and nothing gets out of hand.... not even remotely, just a good time in a self-policing community. Yes, we still have idiots that throw beer cans in the street, (my personal gripe) but they all seem to disappear the day after as passers-by pick them up a few at a time. Wish you were there!
As said in the last post, I’m currently reading a history of Denman Island 1875-1975, written by Winnifred Isbister. The Isbister Family was one of the first families on the island. Within the book is a further reference to a Tweedie on the island…(remember last years newspaper clipping)... “Charles Tweedie married Flora Keenan and built a log house down Pickles Road near a large swamp which bears his name. He was an engineer on the steam boats during the gold rush in the Klondike days. The family moved to Fanny Bay around 1909.”
Happy Birthday Clay!! So, I was doing the math.... Clay was one when I was twenty-five. That made hime 1/25th of my age. Now I'm fifty and he's twenty-five. That makes him 1/2 my age. Hmmm, so, in another twenty-five years .... we should be the same age.
Hey Clay, we're going here (CLICK) for your Birthday!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Simply Spectacular and Spooktacular

October 31, 2006 goes down in history as the most beautiful day since moving here. The day was simply spectacular. Clear and cold, without a cloud in the sky or a ripple on the water.

The fall colours are in full force and the temperature dipped below freezing for the first time this year.... as I found out while trying to clear the frozen evestroughs of an endless supply of tree nettles. Although there are noticeably less people on the island, the social events have increased with several things happening each weekend. Hikes, concerts, plays etc. are frequent and reasonably priced, (if not free).
The produce shack where we buy fresh veggies is still open daily, with broccoli, winter squash and root vegetables for sale, however, it now operates on the honour system. The products are all priced in round numbers... you leave the payment in the jar and make your own change from the float. The shack is on West Isle Farm, one of the oldest on the island, owned by the Peircy family, and a two minute walk from the house.

On Monday, Kari & I walked up to the library, which is open every day from 1-4 P.M. We should have known better than to arrive at 1 o'clock; as on Denman island, time is on a sliding scale. Herbal tea at Rawganique filled the 20 minutes until the library opened. I checked out a book on the history of Denman Island written by the daughter of one the first families on the island. Here is a great quote from the book....
"Years have brought many changes to this little community - the powerful ferry replaces the rowboat, the old hall has been succeeded by another. Trucks with hearty engines pack produce; the half-day trip, "across the island" has gone. Tourists seek summer quiet in their noisy way. Unchanged, though, are the people who have made Denman their home. Here, there is time for a cup of coffee and a chat with a friend - people visit without invitation, assured of a friendly word and a shared interest. People know one another, each adds something to the personality of the island. There is no urban sophistication, no hot headed hurry to get somewhere; time is used to live in, not race with. The woods are cool and deep, full of small boy treasures, the beaches are long and quiet, their edges frosted with gravel and barnacles. The water is clear for swimming and ripe for fishing. Yes, Denman has changed in material ways but in the more basic things, it is the same." (written in 1949)

Tuesday was my introduction to the neighborhood water system. This is my first, (but not likely last) volunteering effort. The system has to be checked each (and every) day to make sure that it is operating properly with chlorination etc. Each day the chlorine content is measured and the total water usage recorded. It is touted as the best water on the island. Having said that, I have installed a house water filter to reduce chlorine and remove any grit etc. Further, I've installed an additional filter with all the bells and whistles, for cooking and drinking. As several taste tests have proven, it's hard to tell the difference between the filtered tap water and the bottled water from the cooler. My "volunteer duty" is the monitoring / checking of the system on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Halloween on Denman Island is a little different.... If you wish to have the little ghosties come to your door, you must place a pumpkin at the end of your driveway, otherwise they will pass you by. We placed the pumpkin as instructed and had about 20 kids before 7:30 when the trick or treating ends. Most the kids are driven around as the houses are far apart and many at this time of year are unoccupied. It's very dark here at night as there are no street lights, if there were no moonlight, it would be very easy to get lost. At 7:30 the Denman Island Volunteer Fire Department members started the fireworks display at the Community Hall field. This is the only thing that I've been to on Denman that has started on time. The fireworks were quite good although some flew horizontally, which kept the crowd on their toes. The group of spectators gathered around a large bonfire to keep warm and watch the fireworks, afterward there was hot cider, coffee and pumpkin pie with whipped cream for all.

Clay has broken out of the hospital and will likely be overdoing it very soon. Recovery will be an estimated 4-6 months. He hopes to return to work in 3-4 weeks depending on how he feels and his energy level. We're looking forward to having him stay for awhile starting next week and will celebrate his birthday in Ukee @ Ocean's Edge on the long weekend.

The latest from Curtis & Denise: "IM ok... Working loads at the cafe...went to check out the community touch games last wed. and The Pub wants me to play on their next wed i am a touch rugby player..
Everything is well in Cromwell..
Curtis and Denise"

Did I mention that 54-40 is playing here next Saturday??? Yes, I think I did!! Rumour has it that they are recording a CD here and that is why they are playing the Hall. I wonder if Tamara will be here for the concert.... I think I'll start that rumor.....