Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Love Affair with a Cougar" by Lyn Hancock

I only recently discovered the wonderful books written by Lyn Hancock. She's a prolific and well known author here in British Columbia. As a retired teacher, I'm sure she is proud to have children, young adults, and "grown ups" enjoy her tales. Once a teacher, always a teachers.

Love Affair with a Cougar begins with Lyn and her husband David living in Vancouver, BC. While David studied zoology at the University of British Columbia, Lyn taught grade four at Lord Kitchener Elementary School. Their rented home was shared with Sam the sea lion, Haida the puppy, and a variety of other critters needing care.

The story opens with David crawling through their bedroom window with four orphaned cougar kittens. He's brought them home to raise and study.

Wayne's photo of a cougar up near Heather Main in Powell River.

There were lots of hints that life with David wasn't easy. He was a dreamer and planner. Lyn was left with the day-to-day chores with animals and home, all the while teaching for pleasure, and to bring in a steady family income.

Of the four cougars, Tom was the only male. David decided Tom would be the focus of their efforts. As problems grew in their Vancouver neighbourhood, the couple purchased property near Victoria. But rather than a peaceful retreat, they became embroiled in controversy and politics. Through it all, Lyn stood by Tom, looking out for his best interests.

As a retired teacher (and administrator), my heart went out to Lyn. I enjoyed reading about how she used animals and science to thematically teach all content areas. She drew out shy students, and challenged everyone to do their best. I can almost hear the conversations in the teacher's room. Been there, done that as a young enthusiastic teacher among a faculty of entrenched colleagues.

If you love animals, adventure, and overcoming adversity, read Love Affair with a Cougar. Want to know more about Lyn Hancock? Here are some links:

Lyn Hancock's Website
Wikipedia - includes a list of her books
Facebook Page

Do you have any favourite books to suggest? I'm always looking for something good to read.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my Camera Critters post this week. For more great animal pictures click here. -- Margy more exciting book reviews, head on over to Semicolon's Blog each weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Coastal BC Plants: Purple Dead Nettle

N is for Purple Dead Nettle

I love spring! Wild flowers are in bloom. Here are some roadside posies I found down near the Shinglemill dock.

This one is called Purple Dead Nettle (lamium purpureum). It's a member of the mint family. When I first saw it as a young green plant I thought it was mint. It is listed as a invasive tenacious weed that originated in Europe. It is supposed to be edible and has herbal properties.  Of course, don't eat anything wild that you cannot positively identify as safe.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the sixteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

RESCUE! W.H.Y Wasp Trap

The RESCUE! W.H.Y Trap is designed to attract and trap Wasps (W), Hornets (H) and Yellowjackets (Y). Last year we had three wasp nests at the cabin. One was easily dealt with because it was exposed. The other two were more problematic because they were hidden in the wall and under the deck, so we had to tiptoe lightly every time we went around the back of the cabin.

This year I decided to take a proactive rather than reactive stance. I got a W.H.Y trap at Canadian Tire because it advertised that it used a special liquid attractant that could entice early emerging queens to enter the trap. And to top it off, I got it free with my Canadian Tire Money. That took a lot of "sting" out of my purchase.

The trap is “baited” with the liquid attractant in three spots, on the bottom in a felt pad, on the top in a small vial, and in the main chamber in a cup of water.

The sturdy plastic trap is designed to last for years, and refill packages are available. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the attractant only lasts for two week and refills cost about $5.00 each. But if I can prevent a nest under our float deck or in the cabin wall it’s well worth it.

I put the trap up on March 15. We are having early spring weather, so I don’t want to miss the queens. If they start nest building, I could be trying to catch workers all summer long. And that isn’t a pleasant thought! I’ve been stung before and it hurts like hell. Fortunately, I’m not allergic. For some people it’s deadly!

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here. -- Margy

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Up the Lake

We are having a amazing spring here in Coastal BC. Up on Powell Lake, the weather was sunny, warm, and so calm that you could see a reflection in every direction you looked.

The barge hardly ripples the water as we head up the lake.

Very little snow in the high country for early April.
We love to go out on the lake on days like this. And we were the only ones, we didn't have to share it with any one else. Amazing! -- Margy

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Update: Float Cabins for Sale on Powell Lake BC

Spring is here! What a beautiful season.  Mild rain is interspersed with sunny warm days and cabin owners are enjoying the good weather. And the shoulder season is so quiet and peaceful.The Powell Lake real estate market has several offerings including land-based and float cabins. Purchasing our float cabin was the best thing we ever did. Why don't you come up and see what Powell Lake has to offer.

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties

Are you interested in getting a cabin of your own? Here's an updated list of cabins and properties up the lake that are for sale. Some are through real estate agents, so you can get more information via their websites. Also, there's a unique opportunity to lease a float cabin, you pick the start date.

Powell Lake Cabin for Lease

FOR LEASE - Float Cabin on Powell Lake: A rustic off-the-grid float cabin is now available for lease.  It comes fully furnished and ready for immediate use. Accommodations include two bedrooms plus a spacious loft, a large living room with woodstove, a kitchen with propane range and refrigerator, sink with a hand pump for easy access to lake water, and lots of outdoor deck space. It's located in a protected bay twenty-five minutes from the Shinglemill. Call now and be ready to experience all that Powell Lake has to offer. For more information, contact John at (604) 485-2471 (evenings only).

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties For Sale

Powell River PEAK Ad (April 10, 2015): Updated 40X12 houseboat on Powell Lake. "New 140 hp Volvo engine, full 150 gallon fuel tank, 150 gallon sewage tank (NOT full!), 32" flat screen built in DVD player, sound system, portable gas fire pit, solar panels, 600 watt Yamaha generator, 1750 watt inverter, and much more." Priced to sell at $40,000.  If interested, call 604-223-9510.

MLS LISTING: Damian Wright of Westview Zaikow Realty is offering a basic starter cabin on a water lease on the sunny side of Henderson Bay. It has two bedrooms plus a loft, and includes a wood cookstove, propane fridge, propane stove, and some furnishings. It's just a 20 minute ride from the Shinglemill or Mowat Bay boat launch. Reduced to $64,000. It's ready to use, improve, or rebuild. Call for more information at (604) 483-6405 and or visit

MLS LISTING: Curtis Yungen of Re/Max has a float cabin located across from Cassiar Falls to offer. The cabin needs some TLC, so bring your tool belt and enjoy the peacefulness of Powell Lake for the very reasonable price of $65,500. And you even get an 18 1/2 foot Double Eagle boat along with the deal.  Click here for more information and pictures. For more information, call Curtis toll free at (877) 485-2742.

CRAIGSLIST LISTING: Here's a float cabin for sale in the Rainbow Lodge area of Powell Lake.  It's 16 x 20 feet with a full upstairs, capable of sleeping eight for large families or friends. It even has a new deck for enjoying the outdoors. Reduced to $87,000. Call (604) 485-5709 or click here for more information.

MLS LISTING: LandQuest Realty is offering 98 acres with 4,300 feet of lakefront on Powell Lake. In this location there is no zoning or building permits required. It is one of very few deeded properties on the lake, and by far the largest. The property is located in an area called “Rainbow” by the locals. This area is the calmest and warmest part of the lake. The price is $699,000.  For more information click here, or contact LandQuest at (604) 694-7626 or

Powell Lake Cabins for Rent

Off-the-Grid Cabins for Rent: This 8.35 acre lakefront property is 16 miles from the marina. Five one and two bedroom cabins all have: pressurized drinking water; septic for toilets, sinks and showers; and propane stoves, lights and hot water. Lounge on your cabin porch, enjoy the meadow, or go down to the lake to fish, swim or just relax. Access is by boat or floatplane only. Water taxi service is available if you don't have transportation of your own. Rates are based on the length of your stay. Go to for more information or email at

Float Cabin for Rent: "Casa Lopez" is in protected Henderson Bay. There are two bedrooms and a one bedroom suite. Amenities include: stove, fridge, BBQ, running hot/cold water, flush toilet, shower, solar power, kayaks (2), and peddle-boat. There's a 7-night minimum at $160 per night. Transportation to and from the water access only cabin can be arranged. "A little piece of paradise." Click here for more information, or call (604) 483-1032.

Powell Lake Cabin Services

Powell Lake Cabin Services: Already have a cabin up the lake? We are always looking for help with projects around ours. Our good friend (and float cabin neighbour) Justin Behan offers services such as cargo delivery, lumber packages, cubes, propane tanks, wood stoves, and anchor and rope supply. In addition, Justin is now a distributor for Sun-Mar composting toilets just like the one we installed in our new bathroom addition. For more information, call Justin at (604) 483-6527.

Powell Lake Real Estate: Want a real estate agent that really knows float cabins? That's Harry Zroback (our man Harry who helped us get our cabin) from RE/MAX. Harry owns a cabin himself, so he's an excellent person to contact for all your "up the lake" real estate needs at 604-483-8333 or

Powell Lake Stories

Want to know more about life up the lake. Check out these books from Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series:

Up the Lake (Free for Kindle)
Farther Up the Lake
Cabin Number 5
Off the Grid
If you have any questions about Powell River, Powell Lake or cabin living, I'd be glad to help out. Just leave a comment or use the e-mail link in my profile to send me a message. -- Margy

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Firby Reborn

Last winter I lost a fir tree that I've been nurturing in a deck pot for three years. Storm winds whisked it away pot and all, leaving only a few decorative rocks behind. It was a really sad day.

I love using native plants in my landscaping. They grow better than non-native species. 

Wayne and I went out and found a replacement for our fir tree. Like many of our things around the cabin, he got a name, Firby.  I tucked Firby into a large barrel of soil to wait out the cold months.

The new two year old Firby "chained" to the deck.

Then, when I transplanted my cedar trees, I used a nice pot to give my new little two year old fir a first home. If all goes well, next year he'll graduate to a larger one just like his big brothers. I just hope he sticks around long enough for that to happen. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Coastal BC Plants: Methuselah's Beard Lichen

Methuselah's Beard Lichen

In our moist climate, mosses and lichens grow in profusion. You see many trees encased and draped with these non-vascular plants. One impressive lichen is called Methuselah's Beard (Usnea longissima).

It hangs from trees in long masses that make you think of the Old Testament patriarch who was reported in the bible to have lived 969 years. These beards aren't that old, but look like they've grown for a very long time.

Methuselah's Beard (click here for a fact sheet) used to have a much wider distribution around the world, but it has been declining due to habitat and environmental changes. It is still common along the Pacific region from Northern California to Alaska. Even where it remains, it has a spotty distribution, possibly related to its asexual reproduction through fragmentation of the thallus base.

It's most frequently found on old growth and mature conifer and hardwood trees in forests with high humidity such as coastal ranges. As these trees are harvested, the habitat is reduced.

The colour ranges from pale green to a yellowish-silver tint. This closeup with flash made it turn white.

First Nations people and herbalists have used it for purported antiseptic and antibiotic properties, but because of its tenuous status, harvesting or damage should be avoided. -- Margy