Sunday, April 29, 2007

A New Homestead?

New homestead update: Well drilling is complete and producing an astounding 7-8 gallons per minute. It remains to be seen what it will produce in the dry season... stay tuned in September. We're hoping to supplement the well water with a rainwater cistern for gardening and car washing etc. We now wait for the water quality report and can remove the last subject on the sale this week. We had our initial meeting with the house designer and he should have something for us to look at this week also. We'll also begin our search for some help building.... and we have some feelers out. If we wanted to hire a contractor to build for us, we would likely be waiting six months or more. The best builders are extremely busy, so for the most part, It'll be learn as you go with some help when we can get it.

The weather is still quite warm.... up to 14c in the afternoon. I've pretty much finished the new fence... and just have to cut off the top of the posts. We like the way it looks, so may add another panel or two next week.

We've recently been advised that there will be further ferry rate increases over the next two years. I wonder if our MLA's would spend 25% of their post tax daily earnings to go grocery shopping or go to work..... The following email was sent last week. Obviously, I had time on my hands to waste my breath.

To: kevin.falcon.mla@leg.bc.caCC:,, tlaw@telus.netSubject: Ferry rate increases Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 21:10:02 -0700

Last year, my wife and I moved to Denman Island. We left the Greater Vancouver area to get away from city life and begin to live a more self-reliant life, in a caring, environmentally aware community. This community has little draw on resources comparative to larger communities. We have four streetlights on the island. Most of our road system is gravel. Our library is open seven days a week and run independently by volunteers. We have a volunteer Fire Department,of which I am a member. My wife volunteers at the recycling depot, which I would wager, receives a much higher return rate per capita, than anywhere else in British Columbia. We have no police force or police building to maintain. In short, we must be a government’s dream…. All the taxes paid, with little draw on the coffers. The Denman Island residents are a mixed, but cohesive group of retirees, and working middle class. Summer residents that contribute little to the community, own the balance of homes. The only drawback to living on beautiful Denman Island is the prohibitive cost of the ferry on which we rely to go to work, attend medical appointments, and purchase provisions, etc. In your effort to make this service "user pay", Denman Islanders have been subjected to exorbitant rate increases. The Community of Denman Island relies on the ferry service in exactly the same manner as communities in British Columbia’s interior rely on the fifteen ferry runs that service their communities. However; there is no expectation of those communities to pay a penny for the service, never mind have it pay for itself. The only difference is that those communities, have a much higher impact come election time in their given ridings. As the fares to Denman Island increase, the fixed income retirees and working middle class that make up all of the volunteer network will be forced to move off the island. Absentee owner summer vacationers will replace them. The volunteer infrastructure will collapse and our limited commercial ventures will fail. The school and library will close. Then, the ferry service can justifiably be cut back. The ferry service will then be self-sufficient and the B.C. Government can claim a wonderful success. There are some things that are just wrong. What the B.C. Government is doing to this community is wrong. There is no excuse or justification, and it needs to be corrected. I expect my government to be able to accept the facts and show some leadership by making things fair and equal to all. I am truly disgusted with a Government that shows blatant favoritism to buy votes.

As I Blog, Curt should be on a plane from New Zealand. He will make his way here for a few days in May, before heading to the Okanagan to pick fruit for the summer. Between the two hemispheres, he's pretty much picked all year round.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Stand Corrected

I stand rightly corrected... the pea-hen mentioned in the last blog is a Guinea Fowl, native to parts of Africa and apparently quite tasty. These were undoubtedly someones future dinner, I mean livestock.

Last summer we saw a lizard on Denman. The few people we mentioned it to, said that they were newts. But no, I've been swimming with the rough skinned newts at Chickadee Lake and this lizard was considerably larger and a whole lot faster.... by sheer fluke, I cornered one of these little guys in our front garden and he turns out to be the Northwestern Alligator Lizard. He was not nearly so quick on the laminate floor, but I still could not manage a clear picture. But, at least it has been proven!

At fire practise this week, I was initiated to my first "Burn House". In a word, it was hot! Quite literally. The exercise simulated being inside a burning building. At one point, there was so much heat that some materials behind us, (several feet further from the fire than we were) spontaneously ignited. Quite enlightening, (no pun intended). This exercise has also given me incentive to get a hair-cut, (but not a real job). The said hair-cut will be the first since, hmmm November?

Whoa, two days in a row with warmish weather... 14c in my backyard. Very decent to say the least and there were lawns and firewood to be cut. Today, Monday, we had post holes dug for a fence which will be built this week along our front property line. We hope it will block out some of the junk our neighbour has been collecting. The fridge in the front yard was the last straw!

Friday evening, there was an incident in front of the school, (where it was teen night). Some of the kids witnessed a fellow, (Not from Denman and off his meds) beat up his girlfriend. The school went into lock down mode and all the kids were kept safe. Saturday morning, the search was on for the guy and the Comox Valley Search and Rescue Team were called in to help the Denman Island Volunteer Fire Dept. and some other helpful residents to comb the island. A command post was set up. Ground search parties were dispatched, while a helicopter zig-zagged the island. By dinner time, there was no sign of him and few leads... and the searchers were getting hungry. Pizza was ordered from the D.I. Bakery and a couple of firefighters picked up the food and returned to the hall. A few minutes later the lost guy was spotted at the Bakery. So, I'm thinking the guy may have been having dinner at the Bakery at the same time the pizza was being picked up by the searchers... perhaps a good sit-com in the making, but a very expensive undertaking nevertheless. I was extremely impressed with the support offered by the school and community to the kids that were at the school that night. It also proves that this stuff happens everywhere... the difference is how the community reacts.

Saturday Evening, we went to see the Chucky Danger Band at the Denman Hall. The pop-rock group entertained young and old with loads of catchy originals and a couple of cover tunes... including "Back In the USSR" which the lead singer claimed he had written. Check them out if you get a chance... we were impressed with just how tight these Beatle-clones were. These young lads from P.E.I were quite unique. It's not too often you'll see the whole band playing a single drum kit as seen in the picture to the right.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner. Vina Chilcaya Chardonnay (Chile)$11.99. Finally, as the weather warms, my taste buds ask for whites.... as strange as it seems, white wine and warm weather just seem to go together. This Chard is the last of the show-stopper bargains, (as voted by Van-Mags International Wine Awards , that I wanted to try. We found tons of green pear and butter with a pleasant acidic finish. We'll add this to our summer sippers list. Gismondi says: Soft buttery, peachy nose with sulphur, honey and baked apple notes. Round and fresh on the palate with honey, butter, mineral, citrus flavours with a mineral, lees finish. Solid, fresh, easy drinking style with fine acidity. Good value.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Shee's Baaack ......

Big News.... yes, we sold a house in Cedar, oh ya, and bought 5 acres here on Denman, but the really big news.... The Qunitsa is back!! This may not seem like a big deal, but ferries are our life-line and (for one) I was getting a little tired of the "seat of your pants" ferry runs with our smaller replacement vessel. There's not much difference that I can see with regard to the work done on her... maybe a little paint... and I hear there are new engines installed. The bad news is; she'll be gone again in September so the re-fit can be completed. We should have more reliable service at least until Denman becomes the "Hornby Speed Bump" at the end of June.

We get possession mid - May and will begin clearing a building site. Meanwhile, we're back to square one on house plans. We'll meet with a Denman house designer within a couple of weeks and see what we can come up with. We meet with a consultant on Friday to see what our options are with regard to water supply and disposal. The home will definitely have a reduced carbon footprint. Hopefully, the well currently being drilled will be a good producer. It was "witched" beforehand and the most likely spot chosen. The drilling rig must be one of the oldest in existence.

On Friday, Kari headed to Mt. Washington for a conference which was to end on Saturday. I was to drive Ash and her friend up to Deer Lodge after school on Friday, to spend the evening and have some chick time. It hammered rain on Denman all day Friday... Kari called to say, that it was all snow on the mountain, yet it didn't seem that cold. Let me tell you... it was ALL SNOW! There was white-out conditions near the top of the road and 4-wheel drive was a must. Within a couple of hours, there was a good 18 inches of fresh snow around my truck in the parking lot. This was Mt. Washington's last official ski weekend, it must have been awesome powder skiing in the sun the next day.

I call these guys "peahens" but I'm not sure what they are!

The Vegan Potluck this week, featured Mike Yip, a Vancouver Island bird photographer. Mike has been taking pictures for about four years. He's a retired school teacher, that is pursuing his passion. Have a look at his website.... you'll not believe what he has accomplished in such a short time.

TIDBITS: Canucks... up 3 games to 1 ... i smell round #2
Twice in the last few weeks, there have been call-outs.... Truck fire and a car accident... both times I was off the Island. I'm still a call-out virgin!

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner Vina Chilcaya - Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $9.99 Another Chilean no-brainer... Nice combo of strawberries, pepper and broccoli. Angel Fine wines says: If you like your Cabernet Sauvignon rich and fruity, with masses of ribena and cassis and a wee bit of mint floating around, then this wine is definitely for you. Nobody can compete with the Chileans at making such a big wine for such a small price!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

O-Zone is going down hill fast

We Spent our Easter long weekend on Mt.Washington. The 3 bedroom penthouse suite was everything we expected and more with lots of room for everyone. The weather was warm and skiable on Saturday.... the kids (4 of 6 that made it here) got some runs in while we set up camp. It turned nasty on Sunday with wind, and icy little snow pellets. We did venture out on a short foray and walked to the lodge and back. Sunday afternoon, the bold and adventurous headed for Happy Hour at the Ozone Tube Park. We had the tube park pretty much to ourselves and got several reps in before beginning to soak through. The run was a little slow because of the wet snow, but we made the best of it. The weekend was mostly comprised of eating, reading, visiting, eating some more, and drinking a little red wine.

Hoping not to jinx things.... we have an offer on the house in Nanaimo. It'll be nice to unload that one and go on to other projects closer to home. Most of the profit on this house will come in the form of tax refund. We'll know early next week if things will go through, with a possession in May. I'm looking forward to the next project as there is a good chance it will be working on a property on the we're still sniffing around for a small acreage and we have a couple of "irons on the fire".

The weather has turned just warm enough to jump start the growing season and the "lawn", such as it may be, is beginning to grow and will have to be cut on a regular basis. (We will not be weeding or chemically fertilizing anything growing here, so the the term "lawn" is subject to interpretation.) The trees are dropping a huge amount of pollen and it has covered everything including decks and vehicles with yellow powder.

The Canucks start the playoff run tonight... Go Nucks!

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner Organic wines have become far more affordable within the last couple of years. Being a Cono Sur fan, I was looking forward to trying the Organic Cabernet $14.99. Several of us tried this wine and the consensus was that it has a very closed nose and no finish. As you can only taste a bottle of wine, it may be unfair to completely pan this wine as a whole, however; I'll pass for now and won't rush back for another bottle. Meanwhile, Cono's standard fare Cab is $9.50 and is worth twice that. 2005 Finca Flichman Malbec $10.99 was a hit. A big bold wine with lots of fruit and pepper. Another bargain that will make the recommended page.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I went to a Garden Party....

We went to the "Garden Party" on Saturday.... No, there was no tea and croquet or a Ricky Nelson sing-a-long.... this garden party, is a work party for a couple of hours, to help out the Island's organic farming community. It was a great way to meet your fellow islanders and you don't even notice that you're working while chatting. The event is organised by, who else but Fireweed? She's at the centre of many worthwhile, natural interests and events. I've added Fireweed's links to my link-list, (below and to the right)

The Denman Island Players presentation of "The Wobble" ran last week and we attended the Saturday evening performance. The play is a self written and performed effort by a group of islanders. The premise is; what would happen post disaster to our world as we know it. The disaster in this case, is an alteration of the earth's axis. It certainly got you thinking...

Right after my rant about our no-action governments, they announce a "gas-hog" tax.... maybe there really is hope.... Along with taxing the gas-guzzlers, there will be incentives to purchase efficient vehicles, (these won't be going on sale anytime soon). Now how about discounted parking and ferry rates for smaller cars... seems like a natural to me.

So, I was reading a David Suzuki column the other day entitled " Wanted: Leadership for the 21st century". Suzuki (who just turned 71) ponders, "Politicians have a much shorter lifespan - Politically speaking, that is. They can be around for four years or less. Rarely more than eight. That's why I'm often surprised by how little they seem to accomplish in that time. But what's the point of being (re) elected if you aren't going to DO anything?" Dr. Suzuki went off across Canada in his diesel guzzling bus...(ok, maybe it's bio-diesel?), to find out what the average Canadian would do if they were Prime Minister. He didn't stop at Denman to ask me, so I've come up with my top 5 commands if I were King... er, I mean Prime Minister... In no particular order...

1) - Halt all attempts by corporations to monopolize the farming industry. (all industries for that matter) I do not want my food source controlled by Monsanto thank-you... (or my wine by Vincor or Sogrape) Small producers are the future.... I'm shopping less @ Costco; honest!

2) - Ban the export of raw logs. (it just pisses me off) Let's build some product for export, or at least peel the logs..... Who'll do it? We could train all the tax administrators that we're going to fire on change #3

3) - A flat, single tax system. We do not need 5 layers of taxes. If we dismantled all excess tax administration, we'd be paying 30% less. (prove me wrong!) Send all the GST admin to peel logs and make stuff out of wood. Maybe the underground economy would surface if our dollars weren't squandered.

4) - Proportionate representation in Government. Duh, this is a no brainer... we couldn't do any worse. No doubt, there would be a steep learning curve. Electoral Reform Now!

5) - Ok, I said only 5 things.... it's got to be a ban on the farming or growing of foreign species, (plant or animal) Native things grow very well here, strange isn't it. Note to Atlantic Salmon Farmers: Learn to peel logs.

Oh, and please SIGN UP for David Suzuki's Nature Challenge... he's shooting for a million people!

Wild-life update: The Hummingbirds are back!! Thursday was the first sighting of hummingbirds in the new hanging planters. (Kari had heard they'd shown up in Courtenay on Tuesday). Add these to the garter snakes which have invaded the front yard, and the tree frogs and rough-skinned newts that have decided it's time to cross the road, (at their own peril). I have never seen so many earth worms after a rain... the roads are covered and the robins have been looking very happy as the pickins' are easy. The deer have re-emerged and have discovered the emerald cedars (which are supposed to be safe because they are next to the house... NOT!) I think they have learned to intentionally trip the motion censor so that they can see what they're eating. Next step is to post a canine sentry.

Cheap Dave's Wine Corner Jacob’s Creek 2004 Shiraz Cabernet. ($13.49) Toronto Life Magazine says: Great value. Reserved yet solid with complex blueberry, mint, chocolate, pepper and leather aromas. Medium-full bodied wine, dense and firm with fine tannin. Drink: 2007-2010. 4-stars Ok, so it got a great review, maybe I just don't get it.... This would be an OK wine to introduce someone to red wines, as it is quite pleasant. But, I did expect something with more depth and grip. It was something of a limp handshake for me. I'll have to pass.

HEY... was in the LCB the other day.... CONO MERLOT and CABERNET for $9.49 This is a ridiculously great buy... they must be expecting a vintage shipment. Get it while you can!!!