Friday, December 22, 2006

Denman Island Yule Tide

The season is upon us and for the first time ever, I have not purchased a single Christmas Present and have made it as clear as possible, that nothing should be bought for me. I don't feel guilty or stingy....because of course, we're giving some cash so the (adult children) recipients can go and buy their own stuff... (and of course, [Kari bought] presents for Ashley... no childhoods shall be destroyed here). BUT, if I had my way, Christmas would not be about stuff, (or cash) but about get-togethers of family, friends and communities. It's not that I'm feeling humbug or overly commercialized; it's just about wanting the holiday season to be about something other that accumulating "stuff". If I really wanted stuff, I would go get stuff. This isn't a rant, really; besides, I have no room for more stuff. This year, living here has sheltered me completely from commercial store-fronts that depend on guilt (or generosity) driven credit cards to make or break their fiscal year end. I'm feeling the "spirit" quite well, thank-you, simply by being included in community and neighbourhood events, (of which there is no shortage). My only regret is that I have no creative or artistic abilities to pass on as gifts, as so many people here do ...(I may work on that).

The Denman Island Yule-Tide is as follows:

2:34 am ...3.4

*All Yule Tide heights are measured in "feet" and are in **Pacific Standard Time**

No word from CJ in NZ. Perhaps he'll call on Christmas.

We dropped into an Open House held by our local Realtors, (we're really popular there) on Wednesday and enjoyed drinking their wine and eating their food etc. We entered a draw and guess who won the prize.... a lovely carving set. More stuff, I can't get away from it. Unfortunately the inaugural carving will have to wait as we aren't having a turkey this year.

The weather looks like it will be decent for awhile now and we'll be heading off island tomorrow, (Saturday) to visit the kids in Langley for a Christmas lunch, then blitzen back to the island. This makes for a long and tiring day, but we don't do it often. Between the holidays, we may be found in Courtenay looking for stuff to buy and feeling sorry for ourselves for not buying any presents.

New years' resolutions??? Well, there is some time to think about them, isn't there? Mine may be to give more of myself; anyone who knows me, knows this may be hard to achieve; but resolutions should be a stretch, shouldn't they?

Best of the season to all, and if need be, (and it makes you happy), give and receive lots of stuff.
We shall be partaking in some family festivities which include, but isn't limited to, enjoying each others' company and a goblet or two.
I blog you a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

wind , gas, & water

The storm that was supposed to hit us on Thursday suddenly turned right and missed us altogether. Those of you in the southern part of the island and the lower mainland know the outcome and got to experience some of what hit us the previous Monday. We got our cable back on Friday and I was amazed at the desrtuction at Stanley Park. I guess our storm was well reported on the news and was seen by most everybody except Denmanites. Although we had our power back on four days after the storm, some people here were without power until yesterday. Some phone and cable lines will not be repaired until early January. Most of the hydro crews have left and are replaced by logging trucks mopping up some of the roadsides. There is a lot of firewood being cut this week. I've included a few more storm aftermath shots, one of Ashley & her friend Stephanie standing by one uprooted tree; there were several in a row along Lacon Road. The culprit that hit the centre of the island was apparently a waterspout, (a type of tornado). It was about a quarter mile across and several hundred feet high, (within a few weeks this story will be re-told as much larger). It was clocked at Chrome Island with winds of 177 kph. We were hit with another storm last night (Dec 18th) with winds of about 70kph, this would have been impressive before, but now is considered an ocean breeze.

This is our first Denman Island Christmas Tree. It is a free range, organic tree; no chemical pesticides or fertilizers were used to grow this tree. It was not sheared each year at a tree farm using minimum wage labour; no fossil fuel used to transport it, and no corporation profited by it's sale. It is truly a "green" tree and It's from my backyard...

Saturday was the "Seniors Christmas Benefit Dinner", it is held at the Seniors Hall by the Denman Island Seniors Museum Society. For $20 you get a full turkey dinner, a live "big band" with dancing and island conversation about the storm we all endured. And no, we weren't the youngest people there!!

Sunday was the "Island" Christmas dinner. I'm not sure how many people attended, but there was a steady stream of turkey coming out of the kitchen for a good two hours. The hall was packed, but there seemed to be enough seating as people came and went over the evening. All the dinner was donated; the salads and deserts were provided on a pot-luck basis. Santa showed up about 7:00 p.m. with prezzies for all the kids. Now that I'm all turkey'd out (and a little gassy, turkey does that, doesn't it), I'm looking forward to the Christmas dinner at the Kingfisher seafood buffet. We've never been, but have been told it's second to none.

We have house, dog, cat, rat sitters coming to stay here while we head down to the big "V" for a New Year's bash. Fireweed & Mike, have a house & pet sitting biz that is very reasonable and they're very nice people. Fireweed is the organizer of the Vegan Potluck which we have attended and Mike heads up MEOW and Enviro-Mike

My two water system monitoring buds have left the island for Christmas leaving me in charge of the system. The good news: everyone is still alive, The bad news: all the power failures have affected the chlorine levels and I didn't take notes on my 5 minute lesson, on how to adjust the equipment. Until the 29th, it's just me and "Rusty", he's all topped up at 14,000 gallons of crystal clear H2O and I'm told he's much prettier on the inside, (we all know people like that). This summer Rusty will be stripped down and re-painted... I'm thinking something tie-dyed.

Don't forget to check out the Denman photo album... link to the right...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,
For the most part, I’ve been a good boy this year. I live on Denman Island, so please bring me a generator for Christmas.
Regards, Davey.

Kari said it best, “in the city, you feel like man is in control of things, here, there’s no doubt it’s nature that’s in control”

She blew in on Sunday night with torrents of rain onto a roof with a missing gutter (thanks to the snow slide last week); then the wind picked up Monday morning and seemed to climax around 11:00 a.m. with gusts up to 70k. The power flickered for a while, and then died at 1:30. Shortly after it seemed to have blown itself out, but no, no such luck, around 4:00 p.m. she put it into overdrive and things started going sideways, literally. We went to meet Ashley at the ferry and the road was riddled with debris. Parents huddled in the waiting room to get out of the wind and stinging ice pellets. “There’s no way the ferry is going to come across in this”, I was told by an off-duty ferry employee just as the Kahloke came out of the fog. That’s when the steel street-light pole folded into the ocean and I decided being inside, looking out of a sheet glass window, while 100k+ winds hit it straight on, was not the brightest thing. The canoe that is chained at the roadside became a windsock, the cross-member of a power-pole snapped and signs bent in half. Within the 15 minutes (that I was at the ferry landing) two trees fell across the power lines along the road home. The school bus in front of me could just squeak under the power lines and tree.
Tuesday - No power! Luke warm shower & Coleman cooking.
Wednesday - No Power! Went on a reconnaissance mission around the island. McFarlan Road was a war zone. Shown in the pic with the barricade across the road, I was able to return later that night. Simply indescribable. Hundreds of trees criss-crossing the road mixed with cables, phone, and power lines in a tangled mess. By 7:00 pm the truck could squeeze through the chain saw created tunnel.... just big enough for residents to get out for provisions. Thank goodness that there were no fires as there is no way a truck could have navigated the road. These pictures are not a good indication of the real damage, but gives you an idea of what things were like between Monday and Wednesday when BC Hydro began to appear in force.
The picture of the school bus squeezing under the power lines and tree is on the main road by the ferry. The bent speed limit sign gives an idea of the power of the wind.

Thursday.... Had to get off the island for a small dose of sanity, heat and light. Walking off the ferry @ Buckley Bay I counted 14 Hydro trucks with baskets.

Power ON at 3:00 P.M. Everything in the freezer has thawed and is now being cooked and re-frozen. The washer & dryer are working full out. It began snowing about 1:00P.M. and by 7:00 there is about 5 inches on the ground. The weather forecast for tonight??? 100K winds, driving rain and no doubt a power failure. We are lucky as most of Denman and all of Hornby are still out. I beleive that the power lines for Hornby run along McFarlan Rd., so they will not have power anytime soon. Thanks to everyone that called to say they saw it on TV... BTW we have no cablevision yet, but hey, we got lights!! If we can get through tonight the Christmas dinner should be able to go ahead as planned and will be a happier topic for the next post.
Pics of the resident pheasant & rainbow were taken on Wednesday between rain squalls.

Also included a pic of our "camp kitchen"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

New Christmas Traditions

One week later and temps have risen to around 8 or 9c. This was all well and good until the the 60 cm of snow on the roof slowly slid down and took the front gutter with it. It will be a prudent investment this spring to buy some snow stops for the roof. This week we had 4 more "planned" power outages to bury the power cables on the beach at low tide (which was between 8-10 pm.) We actually had a negative tide this week, at -.08 feet, but it was dark and I couldn't see it. I have to say again that the snow removal here is as good as anywhere... the picture below shows a view looking toward downtown Denman Island after our second dump of snow. I rest my case!
On Friday while waiting for Ashley at the ferry (where we pick her up in bad weather) I spotted a long furry critter scavenging along the water-line. I walked over to the beach and waited to see what he would do, as I was in his path. Upon spotting me he calmly jumped into the water and swam around my position. It was definitely in the weasel family, but I'm not certain exactly what.... and of course I forgot the camera. It will be my New Year's resolution to take my camera where ever I go. Incidentally, thanks Mom for the camera which I bought with my Birthday money.... my old one was on it's last legs.
Last weekend we went to our first Christmas Potluck at a neighbours. There were about 20 adults there + another 20 kids. The food was excellent and we continue to meet new people here.
This evening Kari is @ ladies night for Christmas appies and clothes swap. I'm not sure if they swap the clothes that they are wearing.... or how exactly it works... but Kari wouldn't take the camera.
This coming weekend kicks off on Saturday night with the annual "seniors" Christmas Dinner and dance. Go figure, we're seniors here, which apparently is anyone at least 45 years old. As we already know of a few old timers here in their late 80's, it stands to reason that you can be a senior here for the next 45 + years.
Then on Sunday there is a free Christmas dinner for everyone on the island.... you read it right... everyone on the island. We're told that this has been a tradition for some years. Last year it was shut down (as rumour has it) because of some bureaucratic red tape. Damn those mainlanders! Anyway it's back and I'm not sure how... but they can't lock us all up can they? I guess they could send us all to some remote island to serve a 10 year term.... but I digress.

FINALLY got an email from Curt (in New Zealand) an excerpt to follow: Cromwell has a huge farmers market on sundays ..and today Denise and I set up a Hemptations stand selling all sorts of neat jewellry weve been making in our spare time...we will be set up the next two sundays as well...
i got totally sunburnt today its fair to say that we are indeed on opposite ends of the earth..sorry i havent been very good at keeping i touch...we get ADSL in a couple days..i hope i can update the blog by then...
I'll end the blog this week with a picture of the whistle buoy which guides ships approaching Ucluelet Harbour. After the last storm it has become what Bill & Sue call their new lawn ornament.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Big Dump & Christmas Faire

We've had another big dump of snow since the last posting. As nothing had melted from the first go-round, we ended up with accumulations of about two feet. The trees, which had already been wind ravaged and snowed on, couldn't handle the extra weight and many more trees and large branches have fallen.... and of course onto the power lines, which resulted in another power failure of about 14 hours and yet another snow-day, as the schools were closed for a third day on Thursday. With no power and a day off, we headed into Courtenay for a day of provision gathering; the power was on by the time we returned.
Our replacement ferry has begun service and it remains to be seen if it can deal with the traffic. Today, (Saturday) will be a test as this is the first day of the Denman Island Christmas Craft Faire. Most people seem to be walking on the ferry and either taking the free shuttle service or walking up the Ferry Hill. This is one of the most successful events of the year and many people come from the Comox Valley to shop here. There are potters, weavers, painters, photographers, and artists of all kinds. Children can also sell their wares and don't have to pay for the table space. Ashley decided that this may be a get-rich quick scheme and decided to go in the show at the last minute. Kari & Ashley spent Thursday afternoon making "Poppycock" and roasted almonds to sell. All indicators are that she broke-even, but no doubt will have learned what and how to sell for next year's Faire.
Between power interruptions, the bathroom reno is moving along with the tub now tiled and grouted, (and is indeed a work of art). Kari & I are in the early stages of talking about where we want to be for the long term, and we can think of no other place we like better. We will look for a piece of acreage, with or without a home over the next year. We're entertaining a new home constructed using "green" building practises, perhaps a Straw-Bale or Cob home.