St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
Remember the grapes?
After careful taste-testing, we pronounced Monday to be the best day to pick them. On Monday morning, Wendy went out to start picking and found ... not a single grape. Apparently, the local racoon population had also determined Monday to be the ideal picking day, and had already done the job for us. It is good to have our taste judgement confirmed by recognized experts in the field, but their price was a bit steep: a 100% commission.
So much for my netting as protection. The electric fence was installed specifically to protect against racoons, but unfortunately, the ground has been too dry to conduct electricity for months.
That seems set to change soon, though, not that it will do us much good this season. The rainy season appears to be upon us finally. Yesterday was our wettest day of 2008 so far, with 31 mm of rain. More rain is in the forecast, and the long-range computer projections show the summer circulation over the Pacific Ocean finally breaking down into a more winter-like pattern.
The shower for the cottage bathroom is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. Getting it installed will be a major step in the renovation. This past week, I installed the baseboard heaters. Not a moment too soon, as there is now a distinct chill in the air in the mornings.
Last week, I mentioned our domesticated deer. They are now so relaxed that they regularly sit on our "lawn" chewing their cud.
Back in July, a new restaurant opened on Denman Island. Restaurants have been tried here before, without much success. We just don't have the permanent population base to support one in the off season. However, for now, it is still open.
Last night, they had a vegan special, so, along with some friends, we went to sample the fare. We started with a salad, then had a very nice vegan roast with baked potato, followed by apple crisp and decaf coffee. It was all quite delicious. However, it was also quite expensive. It actually would have been cheaper to go into town for our meal, even with the price of gas and the ferry fares. That would explain why there were only two other people there.
The highlight of this week was a trip to Gabriola Island on Saturday to go on their studio tour. The tour was really just an excuse for us to visit another Gulf Island; we had no intention of buying any crafts.
We wanted to be there right from opening time, so we had to get the 6:40 ferry off Denman Island in order to catch the 8:15 ferry to Gabriola. That's an awfully early start on a Saturday morning! Still, it was a pleasant drive down the big island to Nanaimo, watching the sunrise.
The Gabriola ferry is a sister ship to our own ferry, being the same basic design, but a bit larger.
The island is about half the size of Denman, but the population is about three times as much. The result is that, although some areas had a similar rural feel, much of Gabriola feels very suburban. Lots are small, and houses are crowded together. Because the ferry docks right in downtown Nanaimo, commuting as a foot passenger on the ferry is practical, making the island a bedroom community.
In spite of that, Gabriola has a reputation for having the highest number of artists per capita in Canada. The studio tour reflected that, as there were 60 studios on the tour, featuring 90 artists. Though the tour was on for all three days of the long weekend, we only went for a day trip, so there was no hope of seeing all the studios.
Wendy had done some Internet research to determine which studios we wanted to visit. The tour's website did not include a map for some reason, so our first order of business on Gabriola. was to pick up the official tour map and transfer our notes to it. We then set out and were waiting outside the first studio right at opening time.
We visited about a third of the studios, including painters, sculptors, glass workers, potters, photographers, woodworkers, and furniture makers. The caliber of work was very high. Had our budget felt so inclined, we could quite easily have returned with a truckload of art. At one stop, a seniors' painting group had a joint exhibit of about a dozen painters; all were extremely good. We were very impressed with a number of glassware studios, featuring staned glass panels, fused glass dishes and scuplture, and glass lawn signs. One of the photographers specialized in closeup photos of birds. His work was world-class, having been featured on the covers of Audubon and similar magazines.
By the time the tour closed for the day, we were pretty much studio-ed out. We ferried back over to Nanaimo for a meal at a Lebanese restaurant, and then drove back up to Denman Island, missing the 7:00 ferry by only a couple of minutes.
I am continuing to work on the cottage. The shower arrived as scheduled on Monday. It is now sitting in the garage while I take measurements off it to make sure that the enclosure and plumbing all fit properly before it is set into place. I am now in the process of finishing up the drain plumbing, which had to wait until the shower was on-site.
For the rest of this month, I will be doing extra First Responder practice for the Fire Department. First Responder licenses are good for three years. It is now three years since I joined the department, and, by coincidence, three years since the rest of the members last renewed their licenses. We are all going to be practising for the next three weeks to make sure we can pass the exams!
On Tuesday, Wendy and I walked down to the Seniors' Hall to do our civic duty and cast our ballots. Support for our encumbent NDP M.P. was strong on Denman Island, judging by the driveway signs, but our riding covers a wide area demographically, including several cities, and the race is always close. When we went to bed on election night, it was too close to call. The next morning, it had gone Conservative.
Ours was one of 20 ridings across the country where, had Green party voters voted strategically, Conservatives would have been defeated. Add in ridings where strategically-voting NDP supporters could have defeated Conservatives, and the total would be 37 ridings. *Sigh* Proportional representation is long overdue.
I am continuing to work on the cottage/studio. The plumbing is now ready for installing the fixtures, and I have started panelling some of the walls that were opened up. The first photo shows the bathroom, looking from where the sink will be towards the water heater and out to the front room. The second is a candid shot taken by Wendy of me looking like a builder.
The final picture is the view from the cottage deck down the hill to the big maple tree, which is showing its fall colours. The bigleaf maples here do not turn red the way the sugar maples down east do. The best they can do is a mixture of green, yellow and brown, as the leaves all turn and fall at different times.
On Thursday, we took the big ferry over to the mainland to visit my mother, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. We had a pleasant, though subdued, visit, staying with my brother Adrian and his partner from Thursday to Saturday, and driving from Vancouver to New Westminster for daily visits with my mother.
Visiting the lower mainland and the big city is always a total culture shock. The traffic is insane, the pace is fast, and everything is loud. Of course, a lot the roads are dug up with pre-Olympic construction. We did some shopping, and were amazed at the sheer number of ways in which you could part with your money. We were quite happy to return to our little island.
The fall colours this year have been particularly good. We have not had much in the way of wind or rainstorms to knock the leaves off the trees, so they have retained them long enough to show their full colour.
Because the maple leaves change colour slowly, it is common for the few leaves that have turned to be blown off each time the wind blows. The usual result is that the tree shows a little bit of yellow and less and less green, as the leaves gradually change and drop. In contrast, this year, the first yellow leaves have hung on long enough for the stragglers to catch up, and the result is big swaths of gold across the scenery.
The lack of weather has also meant many beautiful clear fall days on which to photograph the trees.
Our local weekly paper published the federal election results from the Denman Island polls. We had a 75% turnout, which is well above the national average. I should hope we have a good turnout, considering the level of community involvement here.
The NDP incumbent got 52% of the island's vote, not that it did her much good across the riding as a whole. Last week, I was whining about the number of Conservatives elected by Green supporters' splitting the opposition vote. Well, that didn't happen here. Despite strong ideological support for the Greens, less than 1% of Denman voters voted for them. Strategic voting is alive and well, here, at least.
Speaking of elections, we have our municipal elections coming up soon. We actually vote in two municipal elections: the Comox Valley Regional District, which handles most municipal services, and the Islands Trust, which handles land use planning for the Gulf Islands. On Saturday, the Residents' Association held an all-candidates' meeting, which was well-attended. In separate sessions, the candidates for Islands Trust and the Regional District got to tell us why they would like us to vote for them, and to answer questions from the floor. It was a useful session, and helped us to make up our minds about how we plan to vote.
The previous evening, we attended the first concert in the annual Concerts Denman series. This was a jazz convert, featuring the Don Thompson Quartet. It was tight, clean, high-energy jazz, featuring piano, vibraphone, saxophone, double bass and drums. We have once again bought season tickets for the six-concert series. The music is consistently excellent, and the concerts are a highlight of the winter season on Denman.
This is a busy weekend, as the Fire Department's First Responder recertification test was rescheduled from November to this weekend. (Actually Sunday evening and Monday morning) We have been doing extra practices to brush up on our techniques. With the rescheduling, we didn't get in quite as many practices as we had planned, but I feel ready to do the test.
And, just to add one more thing to the weekend, I have to do another weekend software installation for work.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013