St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
This week, Wendy and I went over to New Westminster for a few days to visit my mother. Though she is in poor health, she has been feeling considerably better in the last couple of weeks. We had several short but very pleasant visits over the course of the three days we were there. We also visited my brother and his partner in Vancouver, spending an evening chatting with them over pizza.
In between visiting, we had time to walk around some of the more pedestrian-friendly areas of Vancouver, in particular West Broadway and Commercial Drive. We had fun window shopping, and bought a few non-essentials. One item that was a fun find was a string of LED Christmas lights shaped in the form of peace symbols. The peace sign has been trendy in the past year, because it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008. Of course, in these parts, it has always been trendy.
We also took advantage of the big city to eat at some good vegetarian and vegan restaurants: Greens and Gourmet, Dharma Kitchen, and Sweet Cherubim. Though Greens and Gourmet was a bit pricey, we can recommend the food at all of them. The vegan chocolate cheesecake at Sweet Cherubim was outrageously good.
On her walks around the "block", Wendy always looks for the trumpeter swans on the marsh. Earlier this week, she found one of them partly eaten, with racoon tracks all around it. We don't know if the racoons did the deed, or if they were merely scavenging, but, between them, the eagles and the turkey vultures, within a couple of days, there was nothing left.
I finished painting the primer in the cottage bathroom. The ghastly shade of pink is, in fact, the tinted primer. The final wall colour will be the orange that is visible around the vanity. Because the orange is so intense, it requires a tinted undercoat, which happens to be pink. The table-like object in the foreground is one of the storage shelves from above the water heater, temporarily removed for painting. The new door is visible at the left, slouching against the wall beyond the doorway.
It has been another slow week for pictures, as you can tell.
Last month, the Fire Department's long-serving Fire Chief retired after 21 years in the position. As the new chief was taking over, he asked if anyone had any suggestions for improvements in the Department. I had recently had some thoughts about how we keep our training records, so I emailed my idea to him. Well, no good suggestion goes unpunished, so, this week, I was appointed Assistant Training Officer in charge of Record Keeping.
Actually, it is not so bad. They will be sending me on a Fire Instructors course in the spring, and I will likely teach some of the lessons and conduct practices when the regular Training Officer is away. I might even get to use some of the instructional techniques I learned back in my Air Force days. As long as I can stay one lesson ahead of the students...
On Friday and Saturday, Wendy and I attended the World Community Film Festival in Courtenay. We saw documentaries about:
As always, we could only watch a fraction of the films being shown. Fortunately, the World Community organization makes all the festival documentaries available to its members for free rental, so we can borrow the ones we missed.
In renovation news, I have started painting the finish colour in the cottage bathroom. It is going to be very colourful!
Another week gone by and still no weather! It continues to be sunny, cold and dry. We have only had 10% of our normal rainfall for the first half of the month, 22% of normal for this date of the year. Our well, so far, is still full, but all the cedar trees around Denman Island, already stressed from a near record dry year last year, are drooping and off-colour. We have quite a few cedars on our property because the previous owner spared them when he cleared the land, but I am thinking that we are going to lose most of them. Unless we get an exceptionally wet spring, this summer promises to be a bad one for fires.
Yesterday was Valentine's day, and we observed it with the requisite hearts and chocolate desserts. Denman Island Chocolate makes chocolate hearts wrapped in red foil for the season. I can vouch for their quality, as well as the quality of Wendy's chocolate pie!
I spent quite a bit of my spare time this week working on a database for the Fire Department in my new role as Assistant Training Officer. As of today, I finally have a database installed on the Department's computer ready to record all the members' training activities.
I also helped the Training Officer plan a schedule to get all our members through the Basic Firefighter course this year. Although we do a lot of training, we have never been able to earn any kind of certificate to show that we know what we are doing. The "standard" course required so many hours of work that a member of a volunteer department could not reasonably complete it in less than four or five years. Last year, the powers that be recognized this and came out with a new course, "Basic Firefighter", that can reasonably be completed in one year. Our new chief wants everyone to do it this year, so now we have a schedule to work from. By next October, we should all be certified (or certifiable).
I finished painting the bathroom walls in the cottage. With that task done, I was able to assemble and install the shower doors. I am working on staining various trim pieces for installation in the near future. The last big job is building a storage cupboard, which I will be tackling in the next couple of weeks.
Our main source of entertainment this week was attending the monthly meeting of the Residents' Association. It is a great way to keep up to date on what is happening in the community, but it also gives us an opportunity to see some of the more eccentric Island personalities in action.
There was the strangest phenomenon today: water, falling out of the sky! That hasn't happened in quite a while. It made quick work of the remaining snow in our meadow.
However, it is still going to be a dry year, from the looks of things. Looking at my climate page, you can see from the first graph that we are rapidly heading towards drought conditions.
This week, we attended a special event. John Kirk, who has been the Denman Island Fire Chief for the last 21 years stepped down last month. On Saturday, the community held a public ceremony in the Seniors' Hall to honour his years on the Fire Department. Under his leadership, the Department grew from a small band of willing but almost untrained volunteers with practically no equipment to the well-equipped, well-trained, competent crew that it is today. Thanks to him, we have a capital reserve fund that ensures that we are able to replace and upgrade our vehicles and equipment as needed without having to borrow money.
As is fitting for someone who has contributed so much to the community, there was a good turnout in the hall for John, including Chiefs and representatives from Fire Departments in surrounding communities on Vancouver Island, and many community members. There were numerous presentations of mementoes and gifts. The photo shows John receiving a chef's hat to ensure that he retains his place of honour at the annual Fire Department Pancake Breakfast.
This week, I finished the database work I was doing for the Fire Department, including entering all the training data back to January 1st. We now have computerized training records, making it much simpler to find out who has what qualifications and who needs more training. Next, a Wi-Fi setup for the firehall.
I actually completed a renovation project this week! No, not the cottage - that will take a bit longer yet. I replaced the door to our office. All the interior doors in the house were cheap hollow-core slab doors, rather the worse for wear. There was a sale on interior glass doors last month, so I picked one up and have been finishing it this week. Replacing an existing door required some precision chisel work to ensure that the hinge mortises and latch mechanism matched the frame from the old door. Yesterday, I hung it in place, and everything fit perfectly. This door is highly visible from the living room, so it is a huge improvement over what was there before.
We plan to replace the other doors eventually, as well.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013