St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
The weather this week has been wet and stormy, with three storms in a row. Every time the wind gets up, we start getting nervous about the power. One evening this week, the lights actually blinked a few times. Although Wendy's computer shut itself down, the power didn't actually stay off for more than a couple of seconds. There were scatterd power outages all around us, but we got off lucky this time. We figured that maybe all the unstable trees have already been blown down.
In a lull between storms, I finally got my wind instrument installed and connected. The physical installation was not too difficult, up on the power pole, but getting it wired into the network was tricky. I had followed all the wiring diagrams accurately, but had missed the fine print that said, "Oh, by the way, our cable is wired backwards from every other cable in the world." After several unsuccessful attempts to communicate with it, taking it down off the mast, disassembling it, then reinstalling it, I finally figured out what the problem was. I had to re-wire the connection box so its wires were backwards to match the cable, but now it is working fine.
The U.S. Navy's weather modelling website is showing three storms coming again this week: on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tuesday's one looks like a doozy. Now I will be able to monitor just how stormy it gets.
Last week's picture of the Gingerbread espresso cake had enough mouths watering that Wendy got two requests (one from a total stranger) for the recipe.
We have our own resident deer population. The yearling deer that Wendy has been feeding are now quite tame and hang around the house a lot. They even follow us around as we move about the yard. Now that hunting season is over, we are less concerned about them wandering off, and are no longer giving them apples. We figure that eventually, they will realize that the good eats are gone. Still, for now, we get some good photo opportunities.
This week's third photo is specifically for the benefit of those folks living on the prairies. Some of our bulbs are poking their heads above ground already. We went on a bulb planting spree in the fall, and I have forgotten what is planted where. My guess is that these are snowdrops or crocuses, though they are big enough to be daffodils. They are a bit early for daffodils, though. I will be sure to post photos when they bloom, particularly if the prairies are enjoying -30°C temperatures!
In spite of the fact that there was a lot of rain in the forecast this past week, most of it fell at night, only part of the day or didn't materialize at all. The result was that we had a string of several days in a row with several hours of good outdoor working weather. With amazingly good timing, this coincided with having a truckload of lumber delivered.
The result is that I went on a marathon of deck-building. The first phase of the studio's deck is now complete. Well, almost complete. I still have over 300 more deck screws to drive in, but at least all the boards are in place. There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow, which is fine, because my knees could use a break!
It is amazing how much more visible the progress is on a construction project once you get above ground level!
The first photo shows the front of the studio, with the new deck in the foreground, and the house in the background. The second photo shows the view from the deck down the hill towards the forest. There will of course be railings eventually, but, for now, I am just happy to have a flat surface.
The next phase will be more complicated: a deck with a roof, forming a covered walkway along the side of the building. The final phase will be a matching deck at the other end of the building, a mirror image of the one I have just finished. With decks on opposite sides, there will always be one sunny one and one shady one.
We got a new toy this week: a log splitter, a gift from Wendy's father. It will make the job of splitting our year's firewood a lot easier! I will have to build a proper work platform for it (Yay, another project!), but this test run proved it to be very capable.
I don't really have anything else to report. Deck building has been the whole of my activity this week. I will be monitoring the progress of our bulbs over the next few weeks until they flower, but, since I don't want to "rub it in" about our climate, I won't mention them this week!
This has been a quiet week.
There hasn't even been any weather to write about, since a great big high pressure system off the coast has routed all incoming weather up north to the Alaska panhandle. We have had a few showers, but no storms. The U.S. Navy's weather modelling website shows the high remaining there all the coming week, too. (Click on the word "all" beside "Previous 12-hr Precipitation Rate" to see the maps.) However, next Sunday's forecast map looks like we might pay for it then.
So far, we have managed to record precipitation every day this month, even if some of it just consisted of dew or melted frost. I wonder if it will be a clean sweep.
Today's weather was cool and sunny, perfect for photographing the snow-covered Beaufort Mountains over on Vancouver Island. The second photo is of moss on the rock wall beside the road on the "big hill".
I completed my task of driving all the deck screws, and have now moved on to doing the layout for the next phase of deck construction. While I was doing construction stuff, Wendy was splitting firewood.
This morning, we went out for breakfast. From time to time, one of the island residents puts on a big breakfast / lunch event at the community hall. We missed the last one, in November, and were looking forward to today's event. The menu featured huevos rancheros (ranch-style eggs), with an option of refried beans and soy cheese on tortillas for us vegan folk. (How cool is that? They actually had a vegan option!) The food was excellent, and the event was well attended.
This afternoon, Wendy attended a meeting to plan an upcoming fashion show. The show will feature costumes made from recycled items from the Denman Free Store, and is intended as a fundraiser for Renewable Energy Denman Island (REDI), a local group that is trying to encourage islanders to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels.
We have heard that another of REDI's upcoming events will be a workshop on solar hot water heating. We are really interested in that, since it is a practical way to retrofit solar energy to an existing house. Solar hot water can significantly reduce electricity consumption and, of course, electricity bills.
Late-breaking news: The rumours of the demise of our island's resident cougar have been greatly exaggerated. There has been a reliable sighting of the big cat in the Lindsay Dickson Conservation Area just yesterday. There had been rumours that it had been shot, and the lack of recent sightings had made people start to believe the rumour. It is nice to know that we have a healthy ecosystem here, even if it does mean looking over one's shoulder when out walking.
The weather this week has been clear and cold, with the temperature frequently not getting above zero until the late morning. Stop laughing! That counts as cold here. Any time you need to wear gloves, it is considered cold.
Chickadee Lake was frozen solidly enough that one could carefully walk on the ice, though I would not recommend doing so over water that was more than a couple of inches deep. When I commented on the thickness of the ice, one of the old-timers told me that, in years gone by, one could skate on Chickadee Lake almost every year, and there were regular hockey games on its surface. It is certainly uncommon these days.
The clear, cold weather makes for great views out over Baynes Sound to the mountains on Vancouver Island.
My outdoor work this week has consisted of digging holes for the footings of the covered deck at the side of the studio. With the ground frozen, I had to chip the top inch of soil off with a pick. Below that, however, it was unfrozen and the digging was only impeded by lots and lots of rocks.
While I was digging, Wendy has been continuing to play with the log splitter. She has about a cord stacked already, and has made a sizeable dent in the pile of unsplit wood. I contributed to her efforts by cutting up and hauling another tree from last year's storms. We should have about two cords when everything is split and stacked. This is next winter's firewood. Our goal is always to have fuel on hand for the following winter and be collecting more for the winter after that. That way, all our wood will be well dried, and we will have a reserve on hand if we have a particularly hard winter.
While we were outside digging and splitting, one of our neighbours stopped by on his way to someone else's house. He commented that we looked like a picture of pioneer domesticity, working on our land while a curl of smoke came from the top of the chimney. He should talk: he and his wife live off the electrical grid in a little cabin that they built themselves.
One of my projects for this summer (yes, another project - yippee!) is to rebuild the woodshed. What we have is a jerry-built conversion from a kid's play fort. One of our neighbours has a beautiful, well-built woodshed that I studied in order to get ideas for ours. It will have a higher roof, for one thing; no more bonked heads! It also needs to have better air circulation than we have now, to ensure that the wood dries out properly.
Wendy received a surprise package in the mail this week. In it was an entire Christmas village that her grandmother used to have when Wendy was a child. Wendy's mother, instead of packing it away this year, decided to send it to us.
On a sad note, on Saturday, the Fire Department was called out to handle a vehicle fire near downtown Denman. The vehicle, a camper van, was fully engulfed in flames when we arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, when we got the fire under control, we discovered that there had been an occupant inside. I think it is only the second fatality in the Department's history, the first since I have been a member.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013