Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Winding Up, Winding Down

In Wayne's book Up the Main from the Coastal BC Stories series he wrote about a mental (and physical) state he called, "winding down, winding up."

When we discovered Powell River and our float cabin, we lived near Los Angeles over 2,000 miles away and were still working at our careers in education. Finding a place where we could "wind down" was very important. 

"When I land at Powell River Airport, via Pacific Coastal or my Piper Arrow, my mental adjustment is major but almost immediate. The change of pace from Los Angeles is extreme, but the adjustment is soothing. As I drive down the hill from the airport, the modification of my attitude is complete the moment I sight the chuck (ocean).

In the other direction, arriving in Los Angeles, the adjustment is completely different. Winding down is quick and simple. Winding up is a major battle. ... The pace is frantic."
Now that we've immigrated to Canada and settled in our float cabin, the feeling hasn't changed. We travel quite a bit. As nice as it is to go someplace different, that same old feeling of winding down comes over us as we drive down Duncan Street from the airport towards the chuck.

Do you have a place you love to wind down? Let's hear about it. -- Margy

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Strong and Independent" by Yarrow Alpine

When I travel, I love to visit used bookstores. You just never know what treasures you will find. Recently when I went Hope, BC, I found Pages Bookstore and Fraser-Cascade Literacy Centre. They have an awesome selection with used books for $2.00 each (except for new and rare editions). I found several books including one that was quite unique.

Strong and Independent: A system of food storage, and homesteading ... with nutritional guidelines was written by Yarrow Alpine. It was published in 1983 before self-publishing was a common practice.

The system presented includes a combination of growing your own food, buying healthy foods in bulk, food storage, and self-sufficiency for individuals, families and communities. The text is typed interspersed with hand written titles and illustrations. The list of chapters for this 110 page book gives you a feel for what is included:

  •  The Feel of the System
  • The Role of Protein
  • The Role of Carbohydrates and Fats
  • Stocking Up
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Food System with a Heart
Alpine Yarrow is from Salmon Arm in the southern interior of British Columbia. Her bio on the back cover states that she's a nutritional consultant working in the small community's natural food store. The book is based on her training as a nutritionist, personal experience, and childhood memories.

Trying to live a more simple life at the cabin, it will be a good resource for my library.

Do you love visiting used bookstores? What are some of the treasures you've found? -- Margy

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Eagles Take Flight

Here's another visit to Hope, BC, to view some of the murals that depict eagles in flight.

The first two are on the side of the Muskwa Gallery and Native Art Store. I like the way the mural combines fainter eagle images in the background and distinct ones soaring in front.

The last is painted on the side of a the Beadifferent store at the corner of 3 Avenue and Commission Street. It also has a First Nations theme with the eagle flying above a village on the side of the mighty Fraser River. After you enjoy the mural, stop in to see their wonderful collection of beads.

Walking around town was fun, discovering beautiful art around every corner. -- Margy

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sunny Skies of Comox BC

One sunny spring day, Wayne and I took the ferry from Powell River to Comox. Sometimes we need to access "big city" services and the closest can be found across the Strait of Georgia in Comox or Courtenay. Both have quaint shops, restaurants, lodging, big stores, medical services, and much more to offer.

Comox was our destination this trip.  Before taking care of some business we had a hearty breakfast at Smitty's Restaurant and a stroll down to the Comox Bay Marina. I just love the snow capped mountains in the background, the brilliant blue sky reflected in the calm water, and the wide variety of boats.

These colourful canoes and dinghy look all ready for visitors to enjoy on a warm spring or summer day. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Ocean is Our Front Yard

The ocean is the front yard for Powell River, BC. But up here we call it the salt chuck or just plain chuck. Powell River rises from the shores of the Strait of Georgia.  This protected stretch of ocean runs north from the Canadian border between the southern tip of Vancouver Island and the mainland. It flows past the beautiful Gulf Islands all the way north to the Discovery Islands near Campbell River.

Our ocean is a busy marine highway. Tugs pull heavy loads of containers, sawdust, and logs. They travel day and night in all kinds (and I mean ALL kinds) of weather. From my condo window in Powell River, I can watch the pleasure boats, tugs, cruise ships, and fishing boats passing north and south. It's like a parade, day and night.



You can take ocean adventures on the Strait of Georgia in Wayne's books Up the Strait and Farther Up the Strait. For more information, I invite you to stop by www.PowellRiverBooks.com. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Overnighter to Hope, BC

If you've been following my blog, you know that I take mini-vacations whenever I can. My most recent trip was to Hope, BC, home to Sto:lo First Nations and former Fort Hope of Hudson's Bay Company. My starting point was Mom's place in Bellingham, WA. An hour and forty-five minute drive took me past the farms and dairies of Whatcom County to the Sumas border crossing.


View Larger Map
Borders are political, not changes in topographical or environmental conditions. The farms and dairies continue through the Fraser Valley.  Starting near Agassiz, Canada Highway 1 loosely follows the mighty Fraser River into the Coastal Range.  Almost immediately, the lush river plain gives way to sheer granite walls.

Sometimes you can't pick your travel weather in the spring. My overnighter was cloudy, then rainy, so I didn't get many pictures. That means I will be returning soon to this lovely BC town.

Everywhere you walk, you will see chainsaw carvings. Hope claims to be the Chainsaw Carving Capital of the World.  There are also many historical and cultural wall murals. Here's one that was on the back of the Muskwa Gallery.

I walked around town for several hours before showers began. At the bookstore called Pages I found several items of interest. First, the last two cookbooks to complete my Family Circle Encyclopedia of Cooking.  Now I have all sixteen. I also found a Farley Mowat book to add to my collection, and a unique book called Strong and Independent: A system of food storage and homesteading by Yarrow Alpine of Salmon Arm, BC.  It was published in 1983 and is quite a classic. The total for all my treasures was $8.00.

After my town tour I went to Joe's Restaurant for an early dinner and brew, and then next door to the Windsor Motel for a quiet night.  If you get to visit Hope, I recommend both. -- Margy

Monday, April 22, 2013

Saving Geraniums Through Winter

Each spring I purchase geraniums to go in my planter made from a repurposed BBQ. By early summer, they are blooming in profusion. But come the first frost, they are nipped down. I've tried mulching them with newspaper and extra soil, but that alone didn't keep the roots alive through winter.

I'm not one to give up easily. I needed something more to keep the freezing air away and warm the plants on sunny days. I also needed to allow rain water to enter so the soil didn't dry out too much.

I thought of a greenhouse type structure.  What could I use?

I started by mulching the roots with crumpled newspaper. This provides pockets between the soil and the outside air.  Then I tied a piece of fairly thick plastic over the top.

I snipped a few holes to allow rain to dribble through, but not so many that all the warmed air would escape. It was good that I constructed my makeshift greenhouse when I did. That night was the first heavy frost.  You can see frozen moisture underneath.

This spring I removed the plastic and trimmed back the dead leaves and stems. One of the plants was brittle, but three had moisture in stems near the roots.  Two were even sprouting new leaves in the warm spring sunshine. I won't know for awhile if they will fully recover, but I say this is a qualified success in saving my geraniums.

Do you save geraniums over winter?  What strategies do you use? - Margy

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Welcome Home Stumpy

Last winter we lost two stumps from the log boom in front of our float cabin. The boom provides protection from wind waves and boat wakes. The stumps are decorative, but the deep roots also help settle rough water. It's a sad day when we lose a stump.

We assumed the stumps floated down the lake to the dam that generates electricity for the paper mill in Powell River. There, the salvage guy gathers floating wood for removal. Last week after a trip to town we were shocked to see the stump that broke loose last December. We grabbed its broken rope still attached to the heavy metal staple on the trunk end. Using our Campion runabout, we towed our wayward stump back home to his rightful place.


We thought that was amazing, but what happened next was beyond belief. Back in January I wrote about Stumpy. We saw him get away, but weren't able to tow him home because of his unusual shape. We bid him goodbye, thinking he never would return. Then lo and behold, there he was floating right back to us from the Narrows.

We let the current and breeze bring Stumpy home.  Then, with just a little nudging with the bow of our boat, we got him back in place on the log boom. Stumpy has the deepest root structure, so his spot in the middle is an important one.

But his buddies immediately gave him the cold (and rainy) shoulder.

It's not nice to run away from home.  Hopefully Stumpy has learned his lesson. -- Margy

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chainsaw Carvings in Hope, BC

A week ago I took a mini-vacation to Hope, BC.  It is only about an hour and forty-five minute drive from Mom's place in Bellingham. That makes it an excellent destination for me.  Years ago, Wayne and I landed at the Hope Airpark to camp after attending the Abbotsford Airshow. This trip was a solo getaway by car.

A pair of cougar guard the entrance to Memorial Park.

Hope boasts that it is the Chainsaw Carving Capital of the World.  That must be true. Everywhere around town you'll find fabulous sculptures.

River otters frolic in the Rotary Centennial Park.
Here's a nice video by showing the results of the 2012 Chainsaw Championships.  Looks like the 2013 event has been cancelled. I'm not sure why.



I plan to return when skies are sunny to get some even better shots. -- Margy

Friday, April 19, 2013

Snow in the High Country

Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that it's spring. She's still letting it snow in the high country.

But I guess that isn't a bad thing. Next summer we'll appreciate the extra snow melt when the rains leave and the lake needs more water. -- Margy

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Barrel Cowboys

Another side effect of storm winds is bouncing cabin floats. As the wind builds, so do wind waves.  Hole in the Wall may be in a protected bay, but we can still get waves several feet high, especially on John's side of the bay during a clearing northwest blow.

During the recent storm, one of John's barrels popped out from under his cabin and we found it floating in his back bay.  Wayne "lassoed" the barrel with a rope and John tipped it with a pipe pole to empty the water trapped inside.

Once empty, they could lift the barrel onto the float to store until the water warms and it can be reinserted under the cabin float.  Several years ago we added barrels under our woodshed float. Here's a video about how it's done.



When John comes to work on his float, we'll have him return to our cabin to replace a few of our barrels as well. Float cabin maintenance is an ongoing process. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boats, Boats and More Boats

Our first boat, a Hoursten Glascraft.
Living on the water makes it important to embrace all things nautical. As you can imagine, we have quite a few boats. In addition, there are other watercraft that don't qualify as boats, but definitely float.

When we got our float cabin on Powell Lake, Wayne and I had to get nautical right away. We bought our first boat from Barry who had the houseboat rental at the Shinglemill Marina. It had a good fiberglass hull, but the outboard motor was a piece of shit.  We got a new Honda and shortly thereafter sold it to our friend John.

Our next boat was a new Campion bowrider.  Wayne bought it from a dealer on Vancouver Island and they both came home on the ferry. This runabout still provides our regular transportation up and down the lake. "Her" name is Mr. Boat.

Our next nautical adventure was a boat for the chuck (ocean). John helped us find our 2352 Bayliner called Halcyon Days. For eight years she took us to remote and tranquil anchorages up and down the Strait of Georgia. Now she resides at our cabin for winter transport when the waves can get pretty large.

When we're at the cabin, we use a tin boat to bomb around and do water-based chores.  John helped us find this one as well.  She's welded aluminum and used to leak like a sieve, but after Wayne sealed the hull with Cabela's boat patch sticks, it's watertight.

The call of northern inlets made us want a larger boat for the chuck. Foghorn, a 3058 thirty-foot Bayliner, became ours.  We've taken several local cruises to Cortes and Quadra, and hope to head up north this coming summer.

This probably sounds like a lot of boats, but each has its own purpose. And now that we have Foghorn, it's time to sell Halcyon Days. When that happens, who knows.  There just might be another boat in our nautical future. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chippewa Bay

In the northwest corner of southern portion of Powell Lake you will find Chippewa Bay. Chippewa is well known for several reasons.


One, it has a large dock and booming area for loggers working north and west into the Bunster Hills. Logging equipment comes up the lake on barges and booms of logs are towed back in the opposite direction. If you arrive by boat, it's best to come on weekends when logging is less active and you can explore on your own.

Two, you will find a natural forestry museum up Museum Main. This logging road runs near two historic steam donkeys with lots of interesting items strewn across the forest floor. One is near the main, the other is about an hour hike from the road. If you arrive by boat, it's a long walk up to the first steam donkey. If you arrive by quad from Theodosia, it's easier. Well, relatively so. It's an all day ride over Heather Main, but well worth it.

Three, in the summer Chippewa Bay is great for swimming with warmer water than the rest of the lake. This is probably due to the shallower depths and position away from the natural flow from the head to ocean. In the middle of the lake it's over 1000 feet deep, and that can keep it pretty cold all year long.

Four, CB CB'ers. What's that? Chippewa Bay Cabin Busters are strong northwest winds that often follow major storms. They swoop out of Chippewa Bay and blast down the lower lake, trying to level everything in their path, including unsuspecting float cabins. This is one reason you will find some of the heaviest protective booms around cabins in this area.

Up the Lake has a chapter about Wayne getting caught on the lake in a CB CB'er. Click here to read the chapter for free and find out more about life on Powell Lake. -- Margy

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quick Repair for Float Cabin Anchor Cables

Our float cabin is anchored to shore with steel cables. Steel is extremely strong, but it doesn't last forever. Our transition float that allows us to get to shore is attached to the rock cliff with a 5/8-inch twisted steel cable. It's the original and has lasted since our cabin came to this spot back in 2000.

John was heading up the stairs to our cliff to help his dog Bro find a "tree" and noticed that the only connecting point for our transition float was wearing through and fraying. Rain accelerates rust, but it's heavy winds and rocking floats during winter storms that puts the greatest stress on the cables at their connections.

We didn't have any spare cable to make a permanent repair, so we made a temporary fix with a cable clamp and rope. First, Wayne attached and tightened a second cable clamp below the existing one.

Then he threaded a rope under the new cable clamp and through the eye of the connector driven into the granite cliff. This quick repair will hold through any storms that pass through until John can return with his tools and some fresh cable. Thanks Wayne, I'd hate to have my transition float break away and keep from getting to shore. -- Margy

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Powell Lake Doldrums

This time of year it's unusual to get calm weather, but when it occurs, the surface of Powell Lake becomes like a mirror.

Chippewa Bay in the southern portion of the lake is usually known for strong winds and rough waves.  But on this day, it was calm and glassy.  Come back on Tuesday to learn more about this well know location on Powell Lake. -- Margy

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe"

Powell River, BC, my home town, attracts and nurtures writers, artists, musicians, film-makers, and all sorts of creative people.

I recently read Eating Dirt:Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe written by Charlotte Gill who has chosen Powell River to be her home. Before that, she was a tree planter for over two decades.  That's twenty years of back-breaking work in reforestation.  Eating Dirt follows Charlotte through her seasons in the bush. After loggers leave, tree planters follow to start a new generation of trees.  Here are a few memorable quotes from the book.

Logging road and slash overlooking
Powell Lake.
"Logging roads cross-cut the landscape like old surgical scars."

"Creamed, as we are fond of saying. The term is always the same. No matter the province, no matter the branch of the clan. Cream. An absence of impediments to the eyes, hands, and feet."

Emergency Transport Vehicle (ETV)
Chippewa Bay on Powell Lake
"We’re a hundred miles from the nearest hospital. The only ambulance is our ETV, a work-thrashed Ford F-350 with a fiberglass canopy. Our emergency room is a backpack stuffed with first aid supplies and a spine board strapped to the roof rack."

Young trees growing up in a slash.
"Forests for the Future. Forests Forever, as the slogans and the T-shirts say. Not a salve or a fix for the planet, not exactly. We gave the trees some small purchase in the world, and they gave us the same in return."

I see evidence of logging and tree planting every day I'm at home in my cabin.  I have never been a tree planter, nor could I have handled the extremely hard work required.  However, I appreciate the efforts of all the men and women who toil to make our forests a renewable resource.

Eating Dirt is available at Amazon in both print and Kindle formats. -- Margy