December Developments

December is nearly over, and we’re still getting rain, even though most of the southern half of the province has been snowed on.  Go figure?  Actually, I don’t mind an absence of snow – we can still hike about on the roads with Brennan.  I’m not sure what the rest of the winter will be like.  I’ve heard that it’s supposed to be a La Niña year, so cold with lots of snow, but with climate change, I’m not sure if this will happen or not.

December 19th, 2020

Acht!  Weather!  We’ve had way too much rain, way too much rain, way too much rain …….. Today is a bit of a break from dreary grey weather, but the wind is howling from the northwest.  Both the wind and rain have been in excess of what I remember as “normal” for around here.  I read a report on the internet that suggested that Canada has had quite a bit of record breaking weather this year.  Along with COVID, this seems to be the “new” normal.

A friend of ours suggested that our new boat should be in perfect good order by now, with all the work that we’ve put into her (chuckle, chuckle, …).  I think that is about as likely as a cabin or house in perfect good order … just when you get one thing fixed, six others need repair.  However, the new boat is coming along nicely.  Ken just finished working on the batteries and wiring, which was a big project, and very important.  Turned out that the boat’s house batteries were pretty much dead, and the starter battery needed a lot of work.  I’m going to have to do a little repair work on the sails, but I’m thinking that needs to be a warm, sunny (likely summer) day job, when I can lay out the sails on the ground and the material isn’t so stiff to work with.

Another friend, who works on road building in the area, has asked us to keep watch on the water while they did some blasts close in to shore, so we’ve been out in the boat nearly every day this week.  Which brings me back to the idea of boats in “good working order”.  Well, about two days after we got the new boat up and running, the Awen – which we were using for our watching task, as it has an enclosed wheelhouse and heat, something enjoyable on these cool and wet winter days – lost her prop just as we were coming in to our float.  Ken had put the boat into reverse as I had jumped onto the float to tie her up, and I guess that was about the time something broke loose (most likely the prop nuts) and off flew the prop, which is now somewhere under the float.  So much for boats in working order!  We’re still trying to figure out whether or not we can recover the prop (might get a diver in, or maybe we can try to grapple it if we can see it …).  However, I’m very glad this happened right as we were coming in … we got the Awen safely tied up and got home without requiring a rescue.  And I think our push this Fall to get a new boat going was more than just a little bit lucky!

I’ve had a few discussions with people about pole beans versus bush beans.  Pole beans are slow in maturing and require a longer season than bush beans, but their yield is much higher.  Apparently pole beans don’t do very well in the more northern climes of our province, although we successfully grew scarlet runners in Prince Rupert.  Down here in Port Neville, we planted bush beans for about four years, and I seldom got more than six pods per plant.  The pole beans, once they start, just keep going and going and going, until the frost gets them.  We didn’t get a lot of plants surviving this year – the cold, wet start to summer didn’t let them get ahead of the slugs – but the few that did get started ended up producing as much of a crop as the bush beans I’d planted the year before.  They take up less space in the garden, although they need supports.  Our ground is rocky and not very fertile, so every square foot of garden that we can keep fertilized is precious!

Just got our load of Christmas groceries in yesterday … our friends from the road building crew brought them in from Campbell River after I’d pre-ordered them from SaveOn Foods.  The weather was largely unhelpful, with a nearly constant downpour, but we managed to get everything up to the cabin without any damage.  As much as I hate to say this … single-use plastics saved the day.  We are definitely going to have to get more creative with our packaging options in the future.  However, we’ve got our “solstice” ham and a bunch of other choice goodies, so we’ll happily curl up in the cabin and enjoy the upcoming “festivities”.

December 21st, 2020

A very merry solstice day to you all!

I just finished getting the solstice ham all ready for the oven.  We usually celebrate this day with a Celtic dish, generally ham or pork in a bed of potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, topped with sliced apples and cooked in apple cider.  It makes a delicious one pot feast.  Every year is a little different.  This year we have pink potatoes, sun chokes, which we affectionately call Toby Tubers after our friend who talked us into growing them, and white “parsnip-carrots”, which I believe are officially in the carrot genus, but taste much like parsnips.

Ken wired up the MPPT controller to the wind turbine system a few days ago, and I can happily report, as the northwest wind blows down on us, that the turbine is charging a battery!  Most of the rest of the bits for our hydro system have also arrived in the mail, so we have all the pieces sitting on the cabin floor as Ken is busily studying them to figure out how we will put it all together.

Well, it’s almost time to get the ham into the oven.  The wind’s been blowing smoke down the chimney, so I suspect that the ham won’t be the only think that’s smoked this evening!  Brennan will get his first taste of ham – I’m sure he’s been aware of its presence in the house all day.  This dog is a foodaholic!

December 25th, 2020

Happy Christmas to one and all!

Telus’ Christmas present to us has been really poor service – we were out of touch with the rest of the world for most of yesterday, and the signal is still pretty off-and-on.  I suspect that the system is overloaded with everyone trying to stay in touch with friends and family during these COVID times.

Apparently, with all the COVID isolation going on, people have been getting lots of new pets.  Certainly, on these short, dark winter days, Brennan has been keeping smiles on our faces.  He has such a personality … a little imp most of the time, but very loving, and full of energy.  We took him to get his vaccinations a while back, and the vet was very impressed by how muscular he is.  For a 40 lb dog, he’s amazingly strong.  He loves to scramble/jump onto beach boulders that are taller than we are, and then peer down at us.  He’s slowly starting to develop better obedience – largely, he’s so smart that he’s always questioning our commands, although a few circumstances have started to show him that we often have better wisdom than he has, and it’s a good idea to listen to us.  Like a kid, he’s just learned the word “no” (soft growl in the back of his throat when he doesn’t want to do something), so we’re working through this phase as well.  But overall, he’s been a great companion, and we’ve learned as much from him as he has from us.  May everyone have as loyal and loving a companion this drear COVID winter!

Brennan, waiting expectantly.