St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
Happy New Year!
The rain finally stopped this week. Luckily, it wasn't replaced by snow, but we did get some clear, cold weather in its place. Temperatures have been in the low positive single digits in the daytime, and in the negative single digits at night. The frost has dried up all the mud from the previous week, making walking easier and less messy.
When the weather is frosty, I usually cover the car windshield at night. In the event that I have a fire department callout in the middle of the night, I don't want to have to spend time scraping it.
The cool temperatures have limited outdoor work. As soon as the ground thaws, though, it will be time to start getting the garden prepared for the new growing season.
The frosty weather has also meant clear skies at night. The clear moonless nights have been excellent for enjoying the night sky, so I took some pictures of Orion. This is the Orion Nebula through a 200 mm zoom lens. (The exposure was 2 minutes at f/4.5, ISO 800)
Last night, we were invited to a pot-luck dinner that was actually a working meeting. Once a month, Wendy helps to collate the monthly newspaper. A group of volunteers gets together and assembles the individual pages, fresh from the printer, into the completed newspaper. It being New Year, the monthly collating was made into a pot-luck dinner, and spouses were invited. We spent an hour or so doing the collating and then sat down to some serious eating. At the end of the evening, the assembled papers were dropped off at the post office to be delivered today.
The weather has been a mixed bag this week. It rained a bit on Wednesday and Thursday, another Pineapple Express, though the total rainfall was nothing like the last one. Since then, the temperature has dropped and the sky has turned sunny.
Pickles Marsh is frozen again, but looked quite pretty this morning, with a sprinkling of snow grains on top of the ice. In spite of the cold temperatures - it only got a couple of degrees above freezing today - the regular Sunday soccer game had a full complement of players, all dressed in shorts. A typical January day on Denman Island!
Our big event was driving down to Mill Bay to pick up a telescope that I had ordered. They would have shipped it at reasonable cost, but it was an excuse to go for a drive down to our favourite bakery, which has branches in Cowichan Bay and Mill Bay.
The telescope arrived home with no ptoblems. Normally, there is a curse on new telescopes - the number of days of cloudy skies is based on the size of the telescope. I should have expected 8 evenings of cloud, but I beat the curse and was actually able to use it last night. It is a fantastic improvement over my old one! I may post photos from time to time.
The side trip to the bakery didn't go so well. Both the Mill Bay and the Cowichan Bay branches were closed. So instead of freshly-baked chocolate-chip buns for lunch, we had to settle for veggie burgers at White Spot in Duncan.
On the same trip, we stopped at The Bay in Nanaimo to get a new microwave. It was a terrific deal, but when we got it home, it turned out to be a lemon. Instead of cooking, it just flashed an error code. Looking up the code in the manual, it said, in effect, "You've got a lemon. Take it back." So, yesterday, we made another trip to Nanaimo to return it. To add insult to injury, appliances went on sale the day after we'd bought it, and they were completely sold out of that model. I guess we'll get one in Courtenay.
At least one errand of the three was successful.
One of our regular deer is a male that was born two years ago. We fed him and a couple of other fawns of that year through a long cold snap in which the snow didn't melt for weeks. As a result all three are not at all afraid of us. Of the three, the other male has defective antlers that I showed a couple of weeks ago. However, this fellow has a beautiful set of antlers. He has grown into a big, massive fellow.
The theme of this week was snow. It started snowing on Tuesday night, but it was light and the flakes were dry. The weather must have been trying to lull us into a false sense of security. On Wednesday morning, we woke up to a foot of fresh, heavy, wet snow. I had prudently left the car parked out by the road, but it didn't matter, because the road was impassable.
One wouldn't think that someone who worked over the Internet would need to take a "snow day", but the power was out as well. Technically, I could work by generator power, but I don't really like to run the generator all day. On generator power, I logged in to work long enough to ask for the day off.
Breakfast was made on the wood stove. Wendy had prudently soaked our porridge overnight on the expectation of having no power for the microwave in the morning. Good planning! Making toast with the wood stove is actually faster than with the toaster.
After breakfast, I walked to the firehall to put chains on the fire trucks. The main road had been plowed, and, with the temperature above freezing, was bare and wet. However, with the side roads and most people's driveways impassable, we still needed the chains on the trucks. The power was restored by early afternoon.
Since then, the snow has melted fairly quickly, helped by warm temperatures and rain. Not quite quickly enough, though. On Thursday evening, returning home after fire practice, I tried taking the car down the driveway. It went down all right, but when I tried to come back up the other side, the wheels just spun on the slush. As soon as the wheels started spinning, I just knew we would get a fire department callout that night. Sure enough, my pager went off at 1:00 in the morning for a chimney fire call. I had to hike out to the main road by flashlight and flag down another firefighter heading towards the hall.
This week, we have noticed pileated woodpeckers very actively hollowing out trees. We presume that they are making nesting cavities, because they are too big to be their normal feeding holes.
Today, we stopped in at the Art Centre to see an exhibition of fabric art by Comox Valley grandmothers affiliated with the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The exhibition is a fundraiser for the effort to support grandmothers in Africa who are the sole support for their grandchildren who are orphaned by HIV. The art works look like paintings, but each one is made of fabric, and is more like a quilt than a painting. Most of them told stories, and in some cases, several works together told an extended story. It was quite a unique exhibition. It is on tour right now, but the art works will be auctioned off in Victoria later this year.
It has been a while since I showed a cat picture, so it is time to make up for that omission. Here is Liesl, looking cute as always.
The big event this week is a new addition to our family. Caine is a male doberman, about 5-7 years old.
Wendy has always been crazy about dobermans. She has had three of them in the past, the most recent being Reba, whom we had in Calgary. She frequently cruises dog rescue websites looking for pictures of dogs and searching for a doberman in need of a home.
A couple of weeks ago, she came across a writeup on a dog rescue website of a doberman who had been brought into the pound in Victoria, injured and emaciated. He was transferred to the rescue organization, which saw to his recovery and put him up for adoption. We actually just missed getting him (initially) because he has just been adopted. However, his new family changed their minds and returned him to the rescue organization, and we were able to adopt him after all.
There was, of course, a lot of back-and-forth by email and telephone. We had to find out all about him, his personality and medical history, and the rescue people had to check us out. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with a local doberman breeder (We have gone for visits when Wendy needed a dobie fix.) who was able to vouch for us. We drove down to Victoria on Friday afternoon, and brought him back yesterday.
Because he was a stray that came from the pound, we do not have a history of him. The vet estimated that he was 5 - 7 years old, probably closer to 5. His injuries have healed well, and he has no outstanding health issues. Naturally, we will be taking him to our vet for a full checkup soon. We think that he was at one time in a good home. He is well socialized and knows some basic obedience commands. Of course, we do not know his original name, and he is still learning his new name.
We took him out for a walk today for the first time. He is quite fit, and had no difficulty walking the 8.5 km loop "around the block". He is a real treat to walk, after Reba. Reba always used to rip my arm out of its socket when she pulled on the leash - she'd accelerate for 25 feet to the full extent of the flexi-leash and hit the end of the line at full speed. Caine likes to be out in front, but he doesn't pull hard at all. Wendy had no trouble hanging on to him on our walk. She was never able to walk Reba at all.
When I had his leash, I tried giving him a "heel" command when a car came by. I was pleasantly surprised when he immediately dropped back and walked by my side. It wouldn't have won any style points in an obedience contest, but he clearly knew the command and what to do.
Caine knows that there are cats in the house and would like to meet them. Unfortunately, the first time he saw one, he ran barking at it, which didn't make a good impression on them. They spent most of today in the basement. They are understandably cautious with a big black monster in the house, but they are also curious. We know that he gets along fine with cats, because the foster home had a cat that he ignored. We suspect that things will settle down in a few days. We have a gate across the top of the basement stairs, elevated so that the cats can get underneath, but Caine can't get past.
I spent my spare time this week preparing for Caine's arrival. I had to pick up fencing supplies in town and fence in part of the yard so that we can let him outside without his chasing deer. Eventually, we want to fence most of the clearing, both to keep the deer out so that we can grow more, and to allow Caine more freedom to run.
One consequence of all the canine excitement this week was that we missed the official launch of Denman Island as a Transition Community. The Transition movement is aimed at making communities more resilient in facing the coming challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change.
Yesterday, Denman Island had its first ever "Seedy Saturday" in the back hall of the Community Centre. The idea is to encourage local self-sufficiency, organic growing and preservation of heritage seed varieties by offering an occasion to swap home-grown seeds. There have been several seed-saving workshops in the last couple of years, and quite a few people now save their own seeds. Since seed-saving usually results in far more seeds than one needs, a seed-swap makes a lot of sense.
In addition to the swap table, where one could pick up any packages of seed that one wanted in exchange for an equal number of one's own seed packages, there were tables from regional organic seed vendors who specialize in heritage varieties. We picked up quite a few different vegetable seeds.
This morning, I joined some other members of the Conservancy board in hiking around Morisson Marsh, a mile-long marsh at the south end of Denman Island. The property is owned by the Islands trust Fund, and managed by the Denman Conservancy Association. We investigated a couple of areas where it might be possible to create new trails to scenic spots on the shore of the marsh. Morrison Marsh is one of the major bodies of water on the island, and is home to a lot of waterfowl. In addition to various ducks, we saw eight trumpeter swans and at least two pairs of bald eagles.
Wendy and I went beachcombing today. We were looking for pieces of driftwood to complete the handrail around our basement stairs. We already have a few pieces in the railing, enough to make it minimally safe, but it needs a few more to fill in the gaps, and to replace a couple that are broken. We found enough interesting-looking pieces to fill the back of the car, with a few more strapped on top, so I should have a good variety to work with.
Naturally, I have to include a photo of Caine. Unfortunately, he is turning out to be a handfull on walks, and the cats are still cowering in the basement, so we are not sure how that is going to work out.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 6-May-2013