St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
We had a very strange event this week: water falling out of the sky!
A Pacific disturbance, moving through the area, dropped nearly 24 mm of rain on us. That doesn't sound like a lot, not quite one inch, but, compared to the drought we have been having, it was a veritable monsoon. In fact, the last 24 hours of July provided two-thirds of the month's rainfall. We collected about 600 gallons of rainwater in the cisterns from this system, which could be enough to stretch our supply of irrigation water to the end of the growing season.
In order to complete the new woodshed, I needed three sheets of roofing metal, which were delivered on Wednesday. On Thursday, I was just checking whether the the existing metal sheets were dry enough to work on (they weren't) when the rain started up again in earnest. I already had tarpaper installed, which had gotten wet and started to curl, stretch and sag, and I needed to get it covered before it was ruined. So, I placed the remaining metal sheets in position and screwed down the edges while standing on the ladder. I'll have to go back and finish the job this week.
My main work this week was rebuilding Wendy's computer, which had been wiped out by a virus. Luckily, we didn't lose any important files, so all we lost was a couple of weeks of access and a couple of days of my time.
Having rebuilt the computer, I once again had access to my photographs. Just in time, since the photography club is having a public show next weekend. I am entering two photos in it. I'll let you know next week how it went.
This weekend, Wendy and I went to the Filberg Festival, an annual festival of music and crafts in Comox. The festival runs from Friday to Monday of the August long weekend every year. In the past, we have only gone on a single day, ferry fares being what they are. This year, however, we had the benefit of a gift certificate to the Kingfisher Resort that I was given when I won the Firefighter of the Year award last year. We took advantage of it to stay overnight on the big island and attend two days of the festival.
The Kingfisher is a swanky resort and spa that we pass on the old highway every time we drive in to Courtenay. It is right on the beach, with a view across Baynes Sound to Comox Harbour (photo 1). It is the kind of place we normally wouldn't dream of going to - everything costs twice as much as it should. However, it has all the frills: designer soap in the bathrooms, bathrobes for the guests (in fact, guests are encouraged to go to breakfast in their bathrobes), jacuzzis, massage studios, etc. We didn't eat there (with or without bathrobe) due to the high prices, but, thanks to the gift certificate, we enjoyed a bit of luxury at a price we could afford.
The Filberg Festival itself was fun. There are numerous vendors selling top quality crafts: pottery, paintings, weaving, photography, etc. They also had two music stages with some of the best musicians in Canada performing: Murray McLaughlan, Ellen McIlwaine, and J.P Cormier, to name just a few. We had a great time listening to the music and wandering around the craft booths. We were very good, but we couldn't resist bringing back a couple of pieces of pottery: a coffee mug for me and a new cereal bowl for Wendy.
This week, the Denman Island Photography Club had our big photo show at the Art Centre. Ten photographers displayed about 30 photographs, and I have to say, there was not a single one that I didn't like. The show had no specific theme, other than being each photographer's best recent work. That made for a high-quality show.
The club has a mix of professional, experienced and new photographers. For each month's meeting, we have a themed assignment. We have to bring a new photograph that fits the theme, and then we all critique each other's work. It is a good way to develop one's skills.
This weekend's show started with a reception on Friday night, which was well attended. (By which I mean that there were considerably more people there than just the photographers and our spouses.) The show continued Saturday and Sunday, and the total attendance was over 100, considerably better than a typical weekend at the Art Gallery. We had a lot of favourable comments. I would have to call it a very successful show.
I entered two photos, both of which I am including here. As a special treat, click on the photos to see a larger version of each. For the show, I blew them up to 10 x 15 inches, and, of course, they were matted and framed.
I finally got the woodshed finished. I finished screwing down the roofing metal, and built floors and supports for the wood. The floors are nothing fancy: just a combination of pallets and salvaged lumber, the idea being to keep the wood off the ground and allow ventilation beneath it. I have vertical supports along the walls to keep the wood off the walls and ensure that there is good air circulation. The next job will be to stack the winter's wood in it.
This week, I am taking a couple of days off, and Wendy and I will go hiking and sightseeing to various places around Vancouver Island.
This week, I took a couple of days off work, and Wendy and I went for several day trips, sightseeing on Vancouver Island.
On Monday, we dusted off our hiking boots and went up to Paradise Meadows, near the Mount Washington ski area. The trail started off as a tourist trail, on wheelchair-accessible boardwalks. After a couple of kilometres, though, it turned into a proper hiking trail, through a mix of forest, meadows and lakes.
In the forest, even though there were no flowers to be seen, the air smelled deliciously floral. Out on the meadows, there was a profusion of flowers: asters, lots of lupins (photo) , paintbrushes, and "little white flowers".
Because we were just the two of us, we wore bear bells on our packs, thus ensuring that we didn't see any wildlife at all. (Old joke: How do you tell black bear scat from grizzly bear scat? The grizzly bear scat has bells in it.) Next time, it might be less annoying to take along a chatterbox friend.
The hike was a loop trail to a viewpoint called Cruikshank Canyon Lookout (photo). It was a spectacular view, well worth the stiff muscles the next day.
On Tuesday, we drove down to Coombs and Errington to see the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. This organization exists primarily to rescue and rehabilitate injured wild birds. Many of their patients are eagles that have been illegally shot. Birds that can be rehabilitated back to releasable condition are kept away from the public, and are eventually released back into their original habitat.
Birds that are unable to fend for themselves in the wild, due to injuries or to imprinting on humans, are put on display on large enclosures designed with the needs of the birds in mind. Ravens, for example, need stimulation: their cages are full of bells and shiny or colourful toys.
While at Coombs, we stopped in at Demxx Deconstruction Inc., an architectural salvage company. Their yard is full of doors, windows, gates, beams, and every kind of doodad that you might need for remodelling a house, mostly salvaged from demolished older homes. It is definitely a place to keep in mind for future projects.
On Wednesday, we drove down to the Cowichan Valley to check out some wineries that we had heard about. We visited one winery and one cidery, at both of which I sampled the wares. I didn't particularly care for the wine (two oak-y for my taste), but some of the ciders were very nice. The cidery also makes apple brandy from their cider, using a very fancy still (photo).
Two tastings in one day are plenty if one is driving, so we went to the village of Cowichan Bay to visit the True Grain Bakery. We enjoyed some very nice chocolate-chip hazelnut mini loaves for lunch, and bought a couple of regular sized loaves of bread to take home. We also checked out the wooden boat museum and looked around the marina (photo).
This wekend, Arts Denman held their annual studio tour, along with an art show at the Arts Centre. The art show was a fundraiser to help them purchase their building. We picked a few favourite studios to visit, including pottery, painting, weaving and jewelry.
In between times, it has been too hot to do more than an hour or two of work per day on the various projects. I have been building railings for the cottage deck, and Wendy has been moving firewood into the new woodshed.
The weather has changed this week. We had our second rainfall of the summer (the first having been on July 31st) on Tuesday. After the July rain, the weather went right back to being hot and dusty. This time it looks like it is staying cooler and damp. We have had measurable rain six days in a row now, the first time that has happened since April.
The deck railings are done (at least this phase of them), and the woodshed looks good with one bay full of wood. I have some indoor projects lined up in case the change in the weather lasts for a while.
One indoor project that I worked in this week was to install a filter system for drinking water. We have used a countertop Brita filter for a long time, and it is pretty good at removing colour and odour from the well water. However, every fall, when the level rises in the well, we get bacteria in it, and the well has to be cleaned. We had considered an ultraviolet sterilization system, but it is expensive to install, consumes energy continuously, and requires an expensive bulb replacement every year.
Recently, the folks at our local hardware store told me about a ceramic filter system that does pretty much the same job as a UV system. I have used a portable version of this technology for years on backpacking trips, so I was familiar with the principle. The hardware is a tenth the cost of a UV system, the replacement filters are a fraction of the cost of a UV bulb, and it requires no additional energy.
So, I spent this morning installing it under the kitchen sink. There is a separate faucet for drinking water that installs on the side of the sink. I will still need to clean the well annually, but at least we can be sure that our drinking water is safe.
The garden is pretty much finished for the year. Due to all the other projects we have been working on, our garden effort this year was fairly half-hearted. All the greens have bolted, and we harvested our potatoes and garlic a couple of weeks ago. We have some lovely carrots, the first time I have ever been able to grow them to full size. Other than a patch of mint that is ready for harvesting, all that is left are the raspberries and the fruit trees.
Earlier this week, Wendy noticed what appeared to be some deer poop in the garden. Since the garden is fenced and we are diligent about keeping the gate closed, we were doubtful. Perhaps a racoon? However, today, she noticed some more, and then ... a baby deer hiding behind the apple trees. The little @#$% had squeezed in between the back gate to the compost pile and the fencepost! Luckily, it did not eat more than a few windfall apples, though I am suspicious that its presence may explain our poor raspberry harvest this year. The back gate is now firmly tied in place.
Tourists are the bane of Gulf Island existence. At best, they are clueless. (I have had a tourist stop me to ask where "downtown" Denman was - right in front of the Genreal Store, the heart of "downtown".) A couple of weeks ago, we ran into a couple that were more clueless than usual.
Wendy and I were walking towards downtown when we spotted a young couple coming towards us, headed for the "big hill". He was carrying a surfboard under his arm; she was trundling a suitcase-on-wheels along the road. "Excuse me, mite," he said with an Aussie accent, "how far is it to the ferry?" "Um, which ferry?" I asked. They were heading the wrong way if they were aiming for the one that was within walking distance. "The Hornby ferry," he said. "Well," I said, pointing the way they were heading, "it's about 10 km in that direction." "Yeah, right," he chuckled, "but seriously...?" "Seriously! It is ten kilometres!"
I suppose they must have planned their trip using a provincial highway map and assumed that, since Denman Island is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence, they could walk across it in five minutes or less.
This has been another week for puttering on various projects. The weather has been cool and damp, but still suitable for some outdoor as well as indoor work.
One indoor project I worked on was completing the installation of the water filter system I wrote about last week. On Monday evening, as I finished cutting the cold water line to splice in the connector for the filter, it suddenly occurred to me that such a task probably ought not to be attempted when the hardware store is closed! Too late, though, so I pressed ahead. I had some interesting moments when the compression fittings initially would not seal. However a pair of vice-grips and a bigger wrench solved the problem, and it all miraculously ended up water-tight. The filter is great for convenience and peace of mind, and the water tastes excellent.
This week's big event was today's Blackberry Faire, our annual end of summer event. The morning started with the annual Blackberry Run, a road race around our 8.5 km "block". Because they close one lane of the main road for the race, the start time is based on the ferry's sailing time, to minimize traffic conflicts. I was part of the traffic control crew for the race.
Similarly, the fair's parade, which covers two blocks and lasts all of ten minutes, starts when the ferry leaves the dock. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any photos of the parade.
There were booths selling crafts and food, as well as vegetable contests in the community hall. Though I took a quick walk around the park taking pictures, I spent most of the day at the Fire Department's burger stand. I was the chief tomato slicer and backup bun server. Though there was plenty of food at our booth, some of it even edible (veggie burgers), Wendy took pity on me and brought me a big piece of blackberry-apple pie from one of the other vendors. Yum!
The weather for the fair(e) was cool and sunny. The Fire Department's traditional spot is in deep shade, so anyone who wasn't working at a grill got pretty chilly. After several rainy days, though, it was nice to have a bright, sunny day for it.
This being the Labour Day long weekend, tomorrow marks the end of the annual tourist deluge. Hornby Island has a tradition that, as the last ferry on the afternoon of Labour Day loads up with tourists going home, the residents come out to wave them off. The visitors think that it is a friendly gesture, but, for the residents, it is a gesture of relief at having their island back again.
We have learned to spot tourist vehicles. One easy clue is if the roof and back of the vehicle are covered with bicycles. In fact, if B.C. Ferries charged a loonie for every bike that is brought over, they could eliminate all their fuel surcharges. We seldom actually see tourists riding their bikes. Other sure tourist clues: the back end of the vehicle sagging under an overload of a month's worth of suitcases, recreational equipment and groceries; kayaks on top; shiny SUVs; tinted windows rolled up.
There are some who would turn Denman Island into a tourist destination. (Most of the tourist we see are just passing through on their way to Hornby.) It is tempting to try to squeeze $200 out of every tourist that comes by; it would be a major contributor to the island's marginal economy. However, quite apart from the harm it would do to the social structure of the community, it would be foolish, in view of the coming end of cheap oil, to base our economy on an industry that will likely not exist in any significant form in ten years.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013