St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
Not a lot to report this week.
I've got all of next year's wood split and stacked, so we are in good shape for heating. The electric heat has been on most mornings, recently, so we made a fire the last couple of mornings. It doesn't take much to take the chill off the house in the morning. I get it going with a few logs, throw on a couple more an hour or so later, then let it go out. The house is nice and toasty for the rest of the day, especially if it is sunny.
Last year at this time, the rainy season had already started. This year, it looks like summery skies are continuing well into fall. It is cooler, of course, but with the exception of the odd day of showers, we have had nothing but sunshine, with more in the forecast.
We had our Thanksgiving dinner today. We had three couples over: Bob & Velda, Herb & Barb and Andrew & Sharon. It took us most of Saturday to prepare the food: millet loaf with gravy, dressing, candied yams, baked veggies in balsamic vinegar (left), and a pumpkin (un)cheesecake (above), with locally-grown organic apple cider to wash it down. It was worth the effort! We all enjoyed stuffing ourselves, and a few hours of conversation afterwards.
Thanksgiving is our favourite holiday. It is one that has meaning no matter what one's religion or lack thereof. We are incredibly lucky to be able to live in this island paradise, in a close-knit community. Today we were thankful for the company of good friends. We have a lot to be thankful for!
Owen thought he would have something extra to be thankful for today, but we got him away from the cheesecake before he had a sample!
Here it is, the middle of October, and we are still picking raspberries every couple of days. This week I rode my bike to a good blackberry patch that hadn't been picked-over for a few days and picked enough for our cereal in the mornings. Very tasty!
Although we have a few showers right now, we are back in another dry spell. The water level in the well must be down again, because the sulphur smell is back. It will be nice to get some real rain. We keep thinking that the rainy season is going to start any day now. Hopefully, one of these days we will be right.
The picture at right shows Central Park, the Conservancy's latest acquisition on Denman. It is a quarter-section (i.e. half a mile by half a mile) of recently-logged land right in the middle of Denman, across from the Old School. They are holding lots of interest-building and fundraising events to pay off the mortgage on it. Today, they held a nature walk to show people the land and its recovering forest. They plan to develop a few more hiking trails, in addition to the old logging roads that already access the land, to provide several loop hikes on the parcel itself, as well as to connect it with trails on other land nearby. There are now several contiguous parcels of land that are owned either by the Conservancy or the Crown, and their dream is to have several miles of hiking trails connecting them all.
Last night, Arts Denman had its first concert of the new season. This year, so many of the concerts on the program looked good that we bought season tickets. Last night's concert was the Fouquet-Dolin cello duo, playing a variety of pieces, including some Mozart opera arias arranged for two cellos. The music, as always, was excellent!
The weather was nice, so we walked to and from the concert. We have a reputation for walking everywhere; it is so easy to walk places from where we live that it seems a crime not to. For evening events at this time of year, of course, we carry flashlights and wear a reflective armband with a red flashing light. We had to fight off several offers of rides! People think we are a little odd that way!
The main sound in our forests these days is the croaking of tree frogs. The little green guys are only an inch or two long, but they sure are loud! It is odd, hearing frogs croaking in the trees instead of in a wetland. The other sound is the barking of sea lions. They are back from their summer vacation in Alaska (I presume). There seems to be a large colony of them at Fanny Bay, across the water from us on Vancouver Island. Any time we are down on the water on the west side of Denman, or even in "downtown" Denman, we can hear them.
Speaking of odd creatures, here's a puzzle for you. Any idea what the odd looking thing is on the lawn in the photo at left? The photo is totally un-edited. The time of day (6:55 pm) and the low lighting level are clues, though obscure ones.
Wendy leaves for Nova Scotia on Monday to visit her parents for two weeks.
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There is not a lot to report this week. Wendy is off in Nova Scotia for a couple of weeks to visit her parents. I spent the majority of the week in a classroom in Courtenay attending a career seminar. So, not much has happened here.
Not only that, but my good camera is in the shop for repairs (wonky cable connector) and Wendy has the backup camera, which usually serves as my high-resolution webcam, with her in Nova Scotia. So, no interesting pictures this week either. Instead, I have a "file photo" of a generic view from Denman Island across Baynes Sound to Vancouver Island.
My construction project this week was to build a bike rack in the workshop. Finally, the bikes are not leaning against each other. I will finish it off with a storage self above, and a tarp to keep sawdust off the bikes.
My rain gauge arrived in the mail this week. Since I became the official island weatherman, I have been measuring the rain with a home-made gauge made from a turkey baster and a funnel. It works surprisingly well, but in heavy rain, I have to go outside to take readings and empty the gauge. I have measured rainfall rates of 24 mm per hour. Since my homemade gauge only holds less than 7 mm, it means frequent urgent trips outdoors just when you least want to go out.
The new gauge is a properly calibrated tipping bucket design, which means it is self-emptying. This particular one has been modified with a computer interface. I am now in the process of modifying my temperature-recording software to record rainfall as well. The forecast for next week sounds wet, so the sooner I get that done, the better!
No, we haven't bought a new house, nor is this the latest Denman Island mansion. This is the hospital annex in Truro, NS, where Wendy was born. She just got back from two weeks of visiting her parents, who live in Truro. She also had fun visiting with her sister, who lives in Halifax, and a lot of her relatives and friends. It was a good visit, but I am glad she is back, and not just because she brought the camera back! I missed her!
In Wendy's absence, the cats had to make do with yours truly for all their affection needs. Normally, they won't have anything to do with me unless I have food for them. However, with no one else to turn to, Owen reluctantly got up on my lap in the evenings. Liesl even let me pet her this morning, something she never does. She may have been more interested in the breakfast she hoped I would provide, but perhaps not.
As I reported last week, my automatic rain gauge arrived in the mail, so I spent some time this week reprogramming my weather software to talk to it, as well as doing the physical installation of the cabling. It uses a network design that is physically very simple, so I was able to employ some unused wires in the house phone wiring to connect the computer to the gauge without making any new holes in the walls.
I eagerly awaited the first rainfall all week. The weather office in Comox kept predicting steady rain all week, but it never materialized. The wind stayed out of the west, which gives us a downslope flow and pretty much guarantees no rain. All we got was a measly 2.8 mm. However, it was duly recorded automatically by the computer. Yay!
The picture shows the new gauge on the right, with the soon-to-be-dismantled homemade gauge on the left. Personally, I think the homemade one is more in keeping with the Denman tradition of funky resourcefulness, but I do like the fact that I don't have to go out in the rain every 20 minutes any more.
In other news, I start work next week as a carpenter's helper. It may not be glamourous work, but it seems to be in considerable demand in this area. The pay, even for an entry level position, is as good as what an experienced computer techie can make at a desk job in town! The nice thing is that this job is right here on Denman Island, which, taking into account the ferry fares, is equivalent to $2 per hour more than I would make in town.
Our fall colours are not as spectacular as those down east, but they are pretty fair. This is a panoramic view into our property from the top of the driveway. The building at the left is the cottage. The main house is behind the trees and the car at the centre, down the hill. The garage / workshop is out of the frame to the right, also down the hill. It may not be apparent from the picture, but the lot slopes down considerably from the road, where the picture was taken, to the back property line. The farthest trees you can see in the picture are at least twice the height of the foreground trees in the centre of the picture. They appear smaller because of the slope of the land.
The "keep left" sign where the driveway splits is there to encourage visitors to take the side that brings them closer to our "new" front door - the one we had built last year - in the hopes of making the correct aproach more obvious. Do you think it works? Most visitors take the right fork in spite of the sign, and anyone who ever visited the house when it was occupied by the former owner still goes to where the old door used to be.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 6-May-2013