St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
With the warmer weather, including our first double-digit temperature of the year, more bulbs are coming up. Most of the daffodils are above ground now, some even with flower buds on them. More crocuses are coming up now and flowering. The bulbs seem to be a bit slower than normal this year, but still better than last year.
Most of our activity this week has been centered around Larkin, our greyhound. Greyhounds are couch potatoes, and don't actually need a huge amount of exercise. When asked about their exercise requirements, I tell people that they are used to running about 30 seconds a week when they race. However, exercise is good for her, and good for us, so we walk her daily.
Larkin looks forward to her walks. As soon as we open the inner gate, she dashes up the path to the car and waits for us to open the door. She has a good sense of direction on walks, and always knows which way is "out" and which way is "back". Apparently, "out" is the good direction, and "back" is not so much fun. She loves exploring new territory, and tries to follow every deer trail we cross. After exploring a side trail and returning to the main trail, she will always turn in the "out" direction, never "back".
We have to be careful to limit her exercise. She would happily run until she dropped from exhaustion if we let her.
Larkin is good when meeting other dogs. On a couple of occasions, we have encountered off-leash dogs. Today, we met one that took a dislike to her and growled in her face. We were happy to see that she was non-confrontational. On a different occasion, she was wagging her tail and happy to meet the strange dog's human.
She and the cats are getting more used to each other. Though they don't socialize yet, they don't mind being in the same room with each other. On Friday, Wendy was sitting in the living room with Owen on her lap. Larkin walked up to them and touched noses with Owen, who didn't seem too concerned. We think it is only a matter of time before they become friends.
There were a couple of cultural events this week. They have started showing movies weekly at the community hall. This week's film was the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo, a swashbuckling adventure based on the book by Alexandre Dumas.
This afternoon, we attended a concert featuring the Emily Carr String Quartet, joined by Sarah Hagen on piano. They played String Quartets by Mozart and Shostakovich, and a Piano Quintet by Robert Schumann. In spite of having a substitute player for one of their members who is on maternity leave, they were extremely "tight", playing magnificently together. The Shostakovitch Quartet in particular was a very powerful piece. The concert, as usual, was well-attended.
We are now confident enough of Larkin's good behaviour that we are comfortable leaving her alone in the house with the two kitties while we attend a movie or a concert.
The weather this week has been seasonal, with some rain and some sun. At least, it was seasonal until today. This afternoon, there were some fairly heavy snow showers. Fortunately, they didn't last long enough to stick to the ground, but it was a bit disconcerting.
Every day, there are more crocuses up. The daffodils are getting buds, and we are keeping an eye out for tulip shoots coming up, if only so that we don't step on them. We expect the daffodils to flower next month, and any tulips that appear to do so some time after that.
Most of the deciduous plants have leaf buds on them. The climbing rose is covered with new shoots.
Last week, we did some renovation on the woodshed. One bay has now been emptied by our consumption over the winter (three cords). Although we intend to fill it as soon as possible in our ongoing effort to keep our supply two years ahead of demand, we took advantage of the brief emptiness to rip out the old boards that formed the floor and replace them with large-size gravel. The gravel is an easier surface to walk on and to stack wood on, and should still provide reasonable air circulation and good drainage.
I used the old floor boards as new side supports. The old ones did not extend down to the ground, which made it hard to start each row of logs.
As you can see, we have already started loading the renovated bay. We had another truckload of gravel delivered, so as soon as we have another bay empty, it can get the same treatment.
Larkin and the cats are starting to get used to each other. They are still a bit wary of each other, but she and Owen in particular want to be friends. On various occasions this week, they have approached each other cautiously, showing no signs of alarm. Larkin even wags her tail when she approaches Owen. This morning, even Liesl approached Larkin and sniffed her feet. Liesl is too cautious to ever be friends with a dog, but we think Owen and Larkin will eventually end up as buddies.
Today, we attended an extra classical music concert that was not part of the regular series. The Yamaha concert grand piano that is featured often in the regular concerts has been maintained over the years by a fund that was set up when the piano was purchased. That fund is now finished, so this concert was a benefit to raise money for ongoing piano maintenance.
The concert, fittingly, featured the grand piano, played by Jamie Syer, Dean of the Victoria Conservatory of Music. The program was all Beethoven: two piano sonatas, and one for piano and violin. The violin was played by Laurie Syer. Although the concert was not as well-attended as the regular series concerts, all the "regulars" were there. We hope that the fundraising aspect of it was successful.
Last week started out with a doozy of a storm. The wind hit its peak at around 7:00 am, and continued all day. The Fire Department was called out to two different hydro line incidents simultaneously. We can't do anything about clearing downed lines, so we concentrate on ensuring public safety by coning and barricading sections of road affected by downed trees or power lines.
The storm affected all of Vancouver Island, especially the east shore from here north. By Monday afternoon, all of Vancouver Island from Buckley Bay to Sayward was without power, including Hornby Island and part of Denman, and all of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland. The power stayed off there until late Tuesday, and many areas didn't get their power restored until Wednesday or later. Miraculously, we on the north half of Denman never lost our power the entire time. That has to be some kind of record.
The Fire Department was kept busy with more than just hydro line calls. We had one structure fire this week. We were very happy to be able to save the building in this case, with only relatively minor damage. A few more minutes and it might have been a different story.
In addition, we had two first responder (medical) calls, one hazmat call, and one late night motor vehicle incident to attend to. It was quite a busy week, and made up for the relatively quiet winter that we have had.
Spring is springing a bit more each day. We are still finding more crocuses coming up in places where we had forgotten we had planted them. With the yard now deer-proof, they are doing much better than ever before. We have only ever planted supposedly "deer-proof" varieties, but the deer apparently didn't know that. This is our first early spring with the fence and, like the summer and fall, there is a world of difference in how the plants respond.
Down in the garden, the garlic shoots are all several inches tall and looking healthy. I took a look under the straw mulch and found that the rhubarb is coming up strongly, with a lot of colour. It definitely likes to be fed well in the fall. We had it covered with seaweed and straw all winter.
The climbing rose has leaf buds opening.
Larkin is becoming more like a pet every day. She looks forward to her daily walks, which are as much exercise for her nose as for her muscles. She is becoming quite gregarious, and enjoys meeting people and other dogs. She is still a bit shy around strangers, especially men, but she wags her tail nevertheless, and clearly enjoys herself.
The past week started out with some more stormy weather. Nothing like the previous week, fortunately, and the last couple of days have been pleasant and spring-like.
Our main event this week was the installation of a solar hot water system. The installation took two days. While it was a little disconcerting to the hound and the kitties, the work was not too disruptive. Earlier, I had done some advance preparation by digging out a portion of the crawlspace for the storage tank and building a platform on which to place it.
The installation consists of the solar panel on the roof, some coolant lines that run down the back of a closet, and the heat exchanger and storage tank in the crawlspace. It is plumbed into the regular hot water tank. When the sun shines, the heat warms the storage tank. Any hot water drawn from the regular electric hot water tank is replaced by solar-heated water, so the only electricity used is a little bit to maintain the temperature.
With the sunny weather the last couple of days, we have already enjoyed out first solar showers and laundry. The solar panel on the roof is not an eyesore at all. It just looks like a large skylight.
We have taken advantage of the nice weather to do outdoor work. I have been weeding the strawberry patch, and Wendy has been stacking firewood in the woodshed.
Out in the meadow, there was a pergola that was being held up by a grapevine and a honeysuckle. Comparing recent pictures to ones taken when we first moved in, it was apparent that it was developing a considerable lean. Safety dictated that it should be taken down before it landed on someone's head.
After pruning back the grapevine and disentangling the honeysuckle, I removed a brace that appeared to be valiantly preventing its spontaneous collapse. Hmm, still standing. I pushed on one of the supports and managed to increase the lean considerably, but without success. Finally, a couple of well-placed relief cuts with the chainsaw did the trick, and the structure fell to the ground. Once I have finished dismantling it - the builder used huge spikes to hold the pieces together, so that is not a trivial task - the pieces will be used to line the driveway.
We walk Larkin for an hour every day. We have a few trails that are our "regular" routes, but we have also been exploring the North Lands, the largely uninhabited north end of Denman Island. Larkin has quite a good sense of geography, and knows when we are on a "new" trail. She would rather explore new trails than turn around and go back the way we came.
Yesterday, we were walking along one of the old logging roads in the North Lands when we heard tree frogs chorusing. It is THE sound of spring (right up there with the sea lions barking) and we have been anticipating it for a couple of weeks. As we approached one wetland, the chorus got louder and louder. Larkin was quite curious to see what was producing the sound. Of course, the frogs are pretty much invisible.
Larkin wants to be friends with Owen the cat. Several times this week, we have seen her walk up to him, biff him with her nose, and give a play bow, while wagging her tail vigorously. Unfortunately, Owen doesn't get the concept of play and just ignores her. However, he does like attention, so, given time, he may mellow and become friends with her. Today, they stayed close to each other for quite a while in the living room.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 6-May-2013