St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
What a difference a week makes! It is a good thing I got my pictures of the fall colours last week, because a few days of rain and wind this week brought almost all the leaves down. There are still a few spots of colour here and there, but 90% of the leaves are gone.
Leaves are not the only thing that came down this week. Some time between Thursday night and Friday morning, several large boulders broke off the cliff face beside the road on the "big hill" and landed within a foot of the downhill driving lane. The cliff face is overhanging and unstable sandstone, and usually loses several little rocks every winter. It is unusual to have rock come down this early in the season, since we have had no frost to speak of. It is even more unusual to have boulders this big come down. These guys were big enough to cave in a car roof or flatten a person if they came had come down in the wrong spot or at the wrong time.
The shoulder on which the boulders came to rest is our normal foot path up the hill. Being well-trained pedestrians, we always face the traffic when we walk along the road. I think that we might start walking on the other side from now on, and to heck with the traffic.
At the Fire Department, we finished our First Responder testing on Monday. Now we have to wait several weeks to find out if we passed...
I completed a major step in the cottage renovation today. With the help of several friends, I got the shower stall installed. It measures 3 feet by 4 feet, and weighed about 100 pounds with its wood bracing in place, so it was definitely not a one-man job. Getting it in through the doors was a bit of a performance: the widest door was only 30 inches wide. Needless to say, it is a two-piece shower (walls and base), since a one-piece unit of that size would have to be installed before the walls went up. We negotiated the doors by rotating the wall section counter-clockwise through the front door and clockwise through the bathroom door, all carefully choreographed. The two pieces were then assembled, and we raised it into its framed enclosure. Amazingly, it fit!
With that job done, I can concentrate on finishing the plumbing. Both the drain pipes and the supply pipes have been waiting for the shower before I could finish them. Then, I can close up the last of the walls, and it will be time for paint, before the other fixtures are installed.
Denman Island runs on committees, clubs and associations. I had two different meetings scheduled for this Tuesday evening, both of which were postponed because people wanted to watch the American election results on TV. Gimme a break! Granted, it is an important election, but watching election results is like watching paint dry. I am quite happy to find out the results on Wednesday morning, or whenever all the hanging chads are counted. Speaking of which, I wonder if we should tell them about our system of marking an X on a piece of paper. It seems to be a lot less trouble.
We have had a considerable amount of rain, this week, which has washed out any outdoor work. In fact, we have had enough rain that we may not, after all, break the all-time dryness record, set back in 1929. We are now up to 63% of our normal rainfall for this time of year, a level we have not seen this year since the middle of February.
The well is now up to its full winter level of 85 feet, a full 40 feet above its late summer level. It is nice not to have to worry about water consumption for the next few months.
With all that rain, I have been concentrating on indoor work. I have been getting quite a few calls from people needing computer help. In the typical scenario, the client has a new computer and wants to rescue old files and emails from the old Windows 98 machine before it is sent to the junkyard. You wouldn't believe how difficult Microsoft has made it to network Windows 98 and Vista! It boggles the mind how they can actually make money selling such junk. It is making for plenty of work (and hair-pulling) for me.
In renovation news, I finished connecting the supply plumbing for the shower. If I get the drain side connected this week, I will be able to try it out. We also did some major paint purchasing this week. All the interior surfaces will be painted in warm orange shades.
We continue to harvest the last produce from the garden. Rather than mess around with root cellars, we left our carrots in the ground. Whenever we need one, we just go out and pull one up. More interestingly, though, Wendy picked a cup and a half of raspberries on Tuesday. Fresh berries in November! Woo-hoo, I love this climate!
Other than that, not much has happened this week.
Our photography club assignment this month was "celebrating light". Here are my three entries. A version of the first photo appeared here a couple of weeks ago, but who is counting?
There were two events of interest on Denman Island this week: the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Seniors' Hall and the municipal elections.
Since our parents are World War II veterans, Wendy and I like to observe Remembrance Day. Although I find a lot to dislike about typical Remembrance Day ceremonies, our local organizers have, for the last three years, put together a variation that is much more palatable. It honours the living, and gives thoughtful consideration of the effects of war on real people. Although one of the regular officiants is the United Church minister, he perhaps realizes that he is outnumbered, and, every year, delivers a thoughtful, meaningful talk, free of the hollow formalities that are often found at such occasions. We were happy to participate in such a thoughtful, meaningful ceremony.
The other big event was the municipal election. We voted in three elections: the Comox Valley Regional District Council, the Denman Island Local Trust Committee (Islands Trust), and the Comox Valley School Board.
In the Regional District race, the big issue for us was how we islanders would be represented. Until this week, Denman and Hornby Islands together constituted a separate area within the Regional District, with our own representative on council. As of yesterday, we are now part of an area on the "mainland" (i.e. Vancouver Island). We have been wondering whether our new representative would even recognize that we exist. The choice turned out to be fairly clear. One candidate was a business-oriented, pro-development, "Islands? What islands?" ATV-rider. The other was a people-oriented, pro-rural cyclist who actually came over to Denman to sit in on our Residents' Association meetings and talk to us. Surprisingly, he won easily!
In the Islands Trust election, we had two incumbents and one challenger competing for two seats. The big issue was development versus protection. The issue is less straightforward here than it would be in other jurisdictions, since the Islands Trust has a legally-mandated bias in favour of protection. In effect, its purpose is to resist development. The incumbents have a good track record of resisting inappropriate development proposals, and they were both re-elected over the challenger whose position was less certain.
The school board election was less interesting, at least to us. What was interesting was that the winning candidate was, again, the one who took the time to come and visit Denman Island. Not that we have a deciding influence in the area, but it seems that rural communities here, both on the little islands and the big island, do have a lot of influence collectively, and that candidates who show an interest in the needs of rural communities will do well.
On Wednesday, Wendy picked a bunch more raspberries. What a difference between gardening in Zone 7b and Zone 3a!
Fresh berries or not, we are well into the heating season. We have a good supply of firewood, and the house is extremely easy to heat. The cats, of course, are ecstatic when we have the stove on. They tend to spend all day comatose in some warm place.
Work on the cottage has slowed down lately. I have been puttering away, trimming around the shower, and I installed a light for the vanity. The vanity itself has been holding things up. It is the next major item to go in, but has been on back-order for weeks. (Apparently, there was a strike at the supplier's plant.) We finally got the call that it is in, so we will be picking it up tomorrow.
Installing it will not be straightforward, since the new vanity will not go in the cottage, but in the bathroom in the house, which is getting a minor makeover. Once that is done, the old vanity from the house will go into the cottage. Nothing is ever simple, right?
Autumn is well established here now. I never noticed it before, but the alder leaves do not change colour before they fall. They just dry out, still green, and fall. They have been doing that over the last couple of weeks, the last deciduous leaves to fall. The maple leaves fell earlier, and now form a thick mat anywhere they have landed. The only broad-leafed trees with leaves still on them are the arbutus, which are evergreen and keep their leaves all winter, replacing them eventually in mid summer.
Desperate for pictures, I went out this evening, just after sunset (and about one minute too late to catch some colour in the sky!) to take a few. While I was out there, I came across this young deer. Although it was not on our property, the deer and I recognized each other: it is one of our "regulars". It was no more than 10 feet away, and was not at all alarmed at my presence, though the flash from the camera startled it. It was giving me a look that seemed to say, "Got any apples for me?"
The mountains across the water on Vancouver Island have quite a dusting of snow now, the result of a big storm on Friday. We didn't get snow here, just a lot of rain: 34.5 mm. It was a real south-easter, with winds up around 70 km/h. Every time it blows hard, we expect trees to come down and the power to cut out, but so far we have been lucky. Apparently, the forests have not yet replaced all the unstable trees that came down in the big storms two years ago. We only had one minor power bump on Friday, enough to reset the clock on the microwave and nothing more. We are prepared, though. Wendy has several soups in the freezer, ready for cooking on the woodstove if the power does go out.
So far, we have not had any actual freezing weather, though there has been frost on the ground on the occasional morning. A couple of times, walking "around the block", there has been ice on the surface of the Pickles Road bridge, down at the marsh. I suspect this cold weather will not get us much sympathy from those in non-west-coastal Canada.
On Friday night, as the storm died down, we went out to the community hall for the second concert of the Concerts Denman season. This time, we were treated to the Kokoma African Heritage Drum and Dance group. I wish I had brought my camera, because the costumes were very colourful. The music and dance were good, and there was a full house to enjoy them.
The weather this week has been cool and damp, alternating with mild and damp. Here on the west coast, we get the occasional "Pineapple Express" weather system which usually brings drenching rain and warm temperatures all the way from Hawaii. We haven't really had the drenching rain, though there has been a bit of rain most days, but the weather maps are showing that our current mild temperatures are coming straight from Hawaii.
For now, we have thick fog. At times, it was hard to see across our own meadow.
This being the first Sunday in Advent, we have the Christmas lights on. Observant readers will notice a remarkable similarity to our lights of previous years. That's because I don't take them down from one year to the next. In one of my home renovation projects earlier this year, I wired the outlet that the lights are plugged into to a switch, so that, if the weather is ugly, I don't have to go outside to unplug them late at night.
As I mentioned last week, my project this week was to do a bit of renovating in our upstairs bathroom in the house. Nothing major (famous last words), just new flooring and a new vanity. Which, of course, meant disconnecting and removing the old vanity, temporarily disconnecting and removing the toilet, measuring and cutting the flooring, gluing the flooring down and rolling it flat (Note to self: remember to rent a floor roller next time!), reinstalling the toilet, assembling and installing the new vanity and connecting the pipes. It took a few days, but, as you can see, the job is all done now except for the final plumbing hookups for the sink, and installing the doors on the cabinet.
The old flooring was a nondescript off-gray colour that looked like nothing so much as a city sidewalk. The new flooring warms up the appearance of the tiny room considerably.
With December coming up, there will be a lot of parties and events to go to in the next month. The first of them will be the Christmas Craft Fair, this coming weekend. After that, we have several Christmas dinners to go to, and the annual "Moonlight Madness" event, the one night of the year when Denman stores are open for late shopping. It used to be called "Midnight Madness" in previous years. I presume that the name was changed because it was not held at midnight. However, I am not sure the new name is much of an improvement! I note that the moon will be in the last quarter for this year's event, so that there will be no moonlight for it.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 6-May-2013