Friday, August 31, 2018

A New Front Lawn

Oh the joy of the hot tub being back in operation! I’m addicted to its charms—all of them: its disco lights, its massage jets, its enveloping warmth and the inevitable relaxation it forces upon every epidermal cell in your body. It’s the first thing I did today.
I despised its presence when I bought the place. It was Todd who decided it should be make operational when he was here helping me move in. I began using it to humour him and then, after he left, I rarely used it for months.
But then one day my soul opened. I will never move until I have to so that it’s forever present in my life. Along with my hammock, the fountain, the eternal funereal quiet and the birds, it’s soul soothing.
Stepping into the hot fresh sparkling clean water—totally free of chemicals for a while—was truly sublime. All is right with the world right now: A clean hot spa and no Kinder Morgan pipeline.

The new front lawn is seeded!
Once the vegetable garden is done, to the right of the driveway,
I'll be putting gravel on the driveway and the front yard will be done.

Working in the cool fresh air of early Friday morning was much more pleasant than it had been on Thursday—for about twenty minutes. Then I was sweating and panting like a racehorse. I began today, already tired from yesterday. 
I was able to spread the last of the soil on the front yard, however, before Darrell arrived.
By the time he got here I was a walking zombie. My mouth was caked with salt and dirt and I was mumbling all my responses. When I went to the nursery for some supplies, I replied to a clerk’s cheery, “Good morning! How are you?” with: “I’m almost dead, thanks.”
The best part of each break was washing my head, neck and face with a cool washcloth and having a cold, cold drink.
While Darrell built the border for the lawn, I started planting Creeping Thyme in the cracks between the paving stones of my courtyard. Like I’m not busy! Then I backfilled the space between the log border and the rest of the lawn and Darrell fetched the roller—oh my God, talk about manly—and seed. 
I raked the whole yard, then rolled it and the raked it again. Then Darrell seeded it, and I raked it again and rolled it again. Then I watered it while every muscle in my body was signaling that it was time for bed.
Darrell worked on the vegetable garden. The posts are in and ready for cementing. Once the posts are up, the fence will go up quickly. I’m using wire, not wood, so the vegetables are not deprived of any light.
He left at 1:00 and I headed straight to the spa, the lawn was done and my legs wanted to secede. 
But there was to be no resting. Keeping the lawn moist in the hot sun kept me alert all afternoon, but at three, Sheba and I broke for Drumbeg. We earned ourselves a little bit of heaven. We came home and I was toast for the rest of the day.

Spa Day!

My confidence level in managing my spa has hit a high. I’m chuffed I managed to change the water and re-program it, raising the temperature again a little for Fall. As I write this, the temperature in the tub is 98°, on its way to 101°; when it gets there, around 6:00 am, I’m getting in!  Woo hoo!
Then, once I’m out and dressed, it’s back to shoveling another six yards of soil. I will do the bulk of it while it’s cool and before Darrell gets here so that we can get right into the final stage of laying the new lawn. 
He’ll use the roller when he gets here to compress the new carpet of fertile topsoil. Then we’ll rake it, apply the seed, roll it again and thoroughly water it. And that’s it! Then Darrell will continue working on the huge new vegetable garden plot.
It’s going to be another heavy day, but the weather is ideal and now the hot tub is ready to provide hydrotherapy.
An acquaintance of mine is a contestant on the Great Canadian Baking Show season two, starting Sept. 19th. I can hardly wait to watch Andei in action. He is the most interesting and accomplished person!
What a day yesterday was for BC, the premier, for local Orcas, our First Nations people and everyone concerned about the impact of the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline through BC and into Burnaby! 
The pipeline is going to cause a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in Vancouver harbour. Kinder Morgan says they can guarantee safety for our harbour. B. fucking S. That’s the single reason I’m so against it: There will be an oil spill in one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. No one can say there won’t be.
I have friends who protested and rallied. I did nothing. I am ecstatic about the appeal court decision, particularly for my friends who campaigned so hard against it. But I’m really happy for the whales and Georgia Straight.
Thank God for our courts. Thank God for justice and fair process. Amen.
Tomorrow Jess and Todd and family arrive. I love their company. Jess is the daughter I wish I had. And Todd is a blessing. We all spent a couple of weeks together in France and Mexico and we are profoundly compatible.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Very Heavy Work Day @ Pinecone Park

Darrell and I moved twelve yards of soil/fish compost this morning. It’s easier than stacking wood but oh my goodness my back got sore. The pile you see is six more yards that have to be spread tomorrow morning.
I was pining for a spa all day; it was too hot for two old men to be doing such work. Concurrently, Darrel, staked out the perimeter of the vegetable garden. He is building the garden now instead of next Spring! I’m thrilled! And Elaine is up for sharing garden duties and harvest with me. I am overjoyed! That means we will split the cost of buying blueberry shrubs and soil.

It’s forty feet long by twenty-four feet wide; I’ll have almost a thousand square feet of fenced-in, deer-proof garden. That’s three hundred more square feet than my former condo! Darrell will build the raised beds and Elaine’s coming by at some point to talk with me about what we’ll plant. 
I don’t care really what we plant except I’ve no interest in zucchinis. I know we both want blueberries and raspberries and I’d love to grow corn, carrots, beets, and beans. My yard that was once wide open and naked now really looks like the yard of a full-time resident.
Mid-day got really busy. The water hauler came and filled up my hot tub with new water. (I drained it yesterday.) I am so happy. I’ve become a spa addict.


Darrell is coming this morning. I’m sot sure why but I suspect he’s coming to build the vegetable garden. That’d be super! Only the first load of soil has arrived for the new lawn so there’s no point in his being here for that. More soil arrives this afternoon and tomorrow and the weather is perfect for spreading the soil.
Once the soil is spread, I have to roll it to compact it and then spread the seeds. I’m Googling like mad to learn what to do and how to keep birds from eating all the seeds.
And this afternoon the water hauler comes to fill my hot tub with pristine new water. I can hardly wait for the spa to be back in working order—I, who conceptually loathed hot tubs, have certainly come a long way around!
When the lawn and vegetable garden are done, I will have totally transformed this lot. This place came with bare land. The only things growing here were ferns and one Rhododendron. That poor Rhodo suffered such neglect, too. I can tell from the branches. But now that plant is treated like royalty; she is the most glorious bush now and getting fuller and fuller with leaves.
I’m afraid to weigh myself; I’m afraid to quantify my growth. I’m afraid to give measure to the weight of my self-indulgence. 
My brain snapped in April of 2016 and I started having so many seizures every day that my docs suggested I not use the stove. I lived right downtown, so I started eating every lunch and dinner out.
That was phase one of my illness. Seizures dominated my life but in the Spring of 2017 they started diminishing in both frequency and severity but my love of cooking and baking was gone. I kept eating out a lot and then in September I decided to move.
My decision to move was sudden, sparked by the online sight of this place in which I live. All through September, I ate out as I packed up all my stuff and I started eating sweets “to reward myself” for the effort it took to pack.
Then when I got here, I kept the rewards coming because I faced so many challenges moving to life semi off-grid and with so many power failures. I moved October 7th, just in time for winter. And there were two “pie ladies” here who kept me very happy with an endless and delicious stream of rewards.
And now I look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. It may be time for action.
It’s August 30th! Summer flew by; it always does. October 7this my first anniversary of living on Gabriola and I can honestly say that I now feel “of this place.”
Perhaps it’s the incredible amount of work I’ve done on my property or the volunteering and/or relatively successful adaptation to off-grid life. Maybe my beloved animals are a vital part of my feeling of being settled. Regardless, I feel very much at home here and I can still easily and proudly say that I’ve not for a second regretted my move.
It feels good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What a Day!

What a day!
I thought I’d be having a casual day today but when I opened the spa to have a soak, I hit the wall. I could not go in. The water was cloudy and the chemicals I’d added did not solve the problem so I decided to change the water. It was time.
I tried to follow the draining instructions in the manual and failed. I called the spa service company and they didn’t know how to help me either—Brian is on holiday—so Murray suggested I siphon the water out. And that’s what I did, using two hoses.
Replacement water is coming from Nanaimo ($300) Thursday afternoon and then I have to get the spa running and balanced again—I want it operating in prime form for the arrival of Todd and Jessica (and family of three others) on Saturday. 
And then I took on the barbeque. I love cooking with Todd and I want us to barbeque together so cleaning the grill was important. it was a horror. I kept cutting myself; it has innumerable sharp edges and sharp corners. But once it was cleaned I prided myself in its pristine condition. But the kitchen! Horrors! There was oily black soot everywhere. All this cleaning was not my plan for the day.
I had nostalgia for lunch. I had a peanut butter and banana sandwich—oh the long lost joy of that taste combination. Having the sandwich (and recently having hot dogs on the barbie) has been nostalgic fun. After lunch I craved a spa, but that’s days away.
By 1:50 I’d put the hoses away and cleaned up the mess from emptying the spa and the kitchen was back in order. I was pooped, but Darrell arrived to talk about creating my front lawn. We measured the lawn area and I ordered the topsoil/fishmeal mixture. It’s going to cost me $2,400 just for the soil (they’re lending me a roller) but I’ll have a lawn, not a dead-dry rocky slab of weedy land—and don’t forget, I have a croquet set.
Darrell had news: Elaine lost her allotment where she grows her vegetables. The man with whom she shared her garden is selling his place so I offered to share the vegetable garden I want built with her—that way I’ll get to learn from an experienced gardener.
I’m not sure, but I think Darrell is going to build it now so we have a place to put stuff he retrieves from the old garden—like a watering system!  I’m totally stoked to have someone so experienced with whom to share my garden. I really hope she’s interested in sharing with me.