St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
My project, all this week, has been to work on the garage/workshop. With the new concrete floor poured last week and gradually drying out, it was time to work on the walls. The walls were partly insulated when we bought the place, but the insulation that was there wasn't in very good shape. I ripped out quite a bit of it and re-insulated the long wall, then hung vapour barrier and drywall. The seams still need one more sanding and then I'll paint it white.
If you're wondering why one section of drywall is hung horizontally and the rest vertically, I started out hanging it horizontally, which is the "normal" way to do it. However, I was working solo: imagine climbing a ladder balancing a sheet of drywall for the upper half, holding it on top of the lower sheet and trying to drive a screw into it to hold it in place. I managed to get the first one up, but I realized that there was no way I could do the whole wall that way and survive. So the rest of the wall went up vertically and I lived to tell the tale. Once it's painted, who will know?
Today, my project was to build the first workbench. I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out. It is good and sturdy, and will be even more so once it is bolted to the wall. Next week, I'll build a second one, giving me 16 feet of workspace.
Once I have the long wall and work benches finished, I can unload the existing work bench on the end wall (visible in last week's photo) and store my tools properly. Then I'll demolish the old work bench and finish the end wall. It will eventually get a bank of shelves.
Last Saturday, we went on a nature walk to Tree Island. It is a small islet off the north tip of Denman Island. The water between Tree Island and Denman is very shallow, and at low tide one can walk across the mud flats. This time of year, low tide occurs during the daytime, coinciding with wildflowers blooming on the island, so it is a worthwhile trip. We carpooled to the north end of Denman, then hiked along the beach and across the mud flats. The photo at left shows the view back across the mud flats from Tree Island to the north tip of Denman (at right), with Hornby Island in the background.
Tree Island is basically a sand dune, formed from sand eroded off the east shore of Denman and carried north by currents. It has an interesting dune ecology, with some unusual plants, some grassland, and a sizeable stand of forest (photo at right).
In the Gulf of Georgia, the tides are dominated by a 24-hour cycle, rather than the 12-hour cycle that predominates on other coasts. The result is that low tide lasts all day, so we had plenty of time to eat our lunch on the beach and explore the island before heading back in the afternoon.
Wendy likes to beachcomb for shells. Here she is taking a stroll, with Comox harbour in the background.
Luckily, she wasn't really out on the beach on her own, because there is a cougar on Denman Island. It was first reported two weeks ago during the pottery tour. Everyone was a bit skeptical, though there were two sightings that day. Today, we received news that it has been seen again by a reliable witness who got a really good look at it. Luckily, it is down at the south end of Denman, well away from our place. For now... (Cue threatening music.)
Living next to the Gulf of Georgia, we figure that we have a lifetime of possible vacation spots within easy driving distance. We are determined to explore as many of those destinations as possible when we get the chance.
Last weekend, for our first exploration, we drove up to Quadra Island, located at the north end of the Gulf, next to Campbell River. It is larger than Denman Island, but quite a similar community, having lots of artistic types. By pure luck, their annual studio tour was on that weekend. We had not realized this until we arrived at the tourist information booth. It gave us a perfect excuse to drive around the island. We visited sculptors, potters, glass-blowers, photographers, weavers, and there were many more studios that we simply did not have time to visit. It was an enjoyable day.
The flowers in the garden are going crazy. Everything is in bloom! The foxgloves are weeds, but very showy ones. Wendy has a planter full of nasturtiums on the deck, which, after much anticipation, suddenly burst into bloom this week.
We are seeing a lot of deer in the yard. It may be a cyclic thing, or perhaps the deer are moving around more because of the cougar. The Wildlife Advisory Committee has received photographic confirmation of the cougar, and circulates email to a large distribution list whenever there is an update on its whereabouts. It hasn't been reported in our neighbourhood, but it certainly is moving around the island, so it could be anywhere. When I go for my morning run, I definitely keep a better lookout in the surrounding forest than I used to!
It just wouldn't be a proper Denman Diary without a renovation update. The workshop project is coming along well. I have the drywall completed on the end wall and ready for paint. The two work benches are complete. Compare this picture to the one from two weeks ago, showing essentially the same view, though from a slightly different angle. With the window uncovered, the old rickety bench demolished, and the walls fixed up, it is quite a different space.
Last weekend, we took advantage of good weather and spent most of our time outdoors. On Saturday, we participated in two hikes. One of them was a nature walk led by a local herbalist, pointing out various medicinal plants that grow in this area. It was particularly interesting in that it was on a parcel of land that is being purchased by the Denman Island Conservancy Association for preservation. For most people, it was their first opportunity to see the land.
The second hike consisted of some outdoor information sessions on a large block of clearcut land at the north end of Denman Island that may or may not get developed in the near future. The information sessions were led by biologists and agronomists to explain the various features of the land. Again, it was an opportunity to see and learn about a parcel of land that we do not normally get to see.
On Sunday, we rented a double kayak and paddled over to Hornby Island. It only takes 25 minutes to make the crossing, so a half-day trip allows for plenty of sightseeing. There are some offshore rocks near Hornby that are inhabited by seals. The seals were mostly in the water when we paddled by, which didn't make for good photos. All you would have seen would have been a pair of eyes and a pair of nostrils. So, instead, I can show you photos of rocks and the back of Wendy's head. The rocks are the Heron Rocks, our destination at the south end of Hornby Island.
On Monday evening we attended an interesting meeting of the Denman Island Residents' Association. At issue was the future of a committee looking into the options for the clearcut lands that we had hiked on - an opposition group wanted the committee disbanded. It is a volatile issue here, and emotions were high, but what was remarkable was that the entire debate was carried out with a level of civility that one would never find in the House of Commons or a provincial legislature. No heckling; no filibustering; no yelling; just people saying what they had to say. The meeting even ended on time! Island democracy at work.
This weekend's big activity is the annual Home and Garden Tour, which is a fundraiser for the Conservancy Association (the same one that is purchasing the first property we hiked on). It is the biggest event on Denman all year, and has been rated by the Globe and Mail as one of the top six horticultural events in the country.
We spent this morning taking tickets at the house of one our neighbours. Their house is built using cob construction - essentially straw and mud - that allows all sorts of free-form curves and is naturally insulating.
This afternoon, after our ticket-taking shift, we went on the tour ourselves. We were able to see half the places today, and will visit the remainder tomorrow.
There are ten stops on the tour, some of which are homes, some of which are gardens, and some of which are both. The photos show part of a spectacular rose garden and the house and garden of local celebrity Des Kennedy, who is also one of our neighbours. His garden is the stuff of horticultural legend, and the photo only shows a very tiny part of it.
In the next week, our horticultural efforts will be spent on trying to keep the @#$% raccoons out of our garden. After discovering that they were eating our strawberries, we have decided to put up electric fencing, as it is about the only thing that will stop them.
For those of you who insist on seeing a renovation photo in every diary entry, I'm afraid you will just have to wait until next week to see one of the completed workshop.
Since last week's Denman Diary, we completed the House and Garden Tour. Since the gardens were so photogenic, I had to include one more photo from the tour. The photo at right is from a magnificent rose garden. The owner has a preference for simple roses, which tend to have more scent than the double flowers. It is a great place to photograph bees.
Speaking of photogenic, we have been getting a lot of deer in our garden lately. Typically, they keep moving as they munch their way through the yard, so getting a good photo is a hit-and-miss proposition. However, on Tuesday evening, this deer decided he liked the place enough that he sat down for twenty minutes to chew his cud. That gave me time to grab the tripod and the 1000mm lens for this shot.
We wonder to what extent the deer's movements are determined by the presence of the cougar. We had a report that it was seen earlier this week at a house only 500m from ours. Clearly it gets around.
Speaking of critters in the yard, my project this week was to install an electric fence around the garden in order to keep out the racoons. We suspect them of pilfering strawberries. The fence is now operational. We haven't heard any yelps yet at night. The fence is quite harmless - we don't expect to find any fried raccoons in the morning. It delivers a painful high-voltage, low-current shock that is more intense (but not a great deal more) than the arc you get when you touch a light switch in a prairie winter. It only shocks once per second, giving those little racoon hands time to let go of the wire between zaps. It is more a psychological deterrent than a physical barrier. So, instead of injured raccoons, we'll have paranoid raccoons. But at least we'll have fruit.
Last week, I promised renovation pictures, and here they are. My new workshop is complete and looking quite spiffy.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013