Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Summer Garden

This has been one of the best gardening years for me. Both my floating garden and deck pots have been producing prolific amounts of fresh vegetables to add to your meals.

Floating vegetable garden on Powell Lake.

The weather has been so warm this year, everything is about two weeks early! Right now I am harvesting beets, carrots, lettuce, chard, kale, radishes, and lots of early tomatoes. My onions have already been pulled and hung for winter storage.

Deck pots add to my growing capacity at the float cabin.

I have pots placed strategically around my cabin's many decks. That way the weight is distributed. Since our cabin floats on the water, it is a very important consideration. My snow peas have finished, but I am still harvesting beans, peppers (Anaheim, banana, and bell), zucchini, and yellow pan squash. My Yukon Gold potatoes are still maturing, but I steal a few for our BBQ dinners.

With so many tomatoes and peppers, I decided to make some fresh salsa for chips and as a condiment for meats and breakfast eggs.

Garden Fresh Salsa

Dice fresh tomatoes, Anaheim chilies (with the seeds removed), and onions. Reserve the seeds from the chilies to add heat to the salsa. Crush them with a knife and add a few at a time to taste. My Anaheim chilies have been hot ones this year. Add salt to taste and enjoy. It lasts for several days in the refrigerator, but gets devoured pretty quick.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Written As I Remember It" by Elsie Paul

Sliammon elder Elsie Paul has written a memoir of her life growing up in Coastal BC during turbulent times for First Nations peoples. Written as I Remember It: Teachings from the Life of a Sliammon Elder has been a collaborative effort over many years so Elsie could tell her life story and, “impart her knowledge of Sliammon teachings and history.”

The book began with assistance from Arlette Raaen, then the principal at the Malaspina University-College in Powell River, her husband Chris McNaugton, and Janet May. They recorded many of Elsie’s stories and developed a draft manuscript. Elsie, in conjunction with her granddaughter Harmony Johnson and Paige Raibmon, professor at Simon Fraser University, completed the project. UBC Press published the completed work in 2014 as a part of their Women and Indigenous Studies Series. Since that time, Elsie has been honored with both a CLIO Lifetime Achievement Award and a Canadian Aboriginal History Book Prize from the Canadian Historical Association.

I’ve called Powell River home since we purchased our float cabin in 2001. In all that time, the only time I went to the Sliammon Reserve north of town was for the welcoming of travelling canoes. Reading Elsie’s book has opened my eyes to the origin of my town, and the First Nations people that played a pivotal role.

Theodosia Inlet
Elsie grew up in the era of residential schools. With the recent release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, her words bring a lot of meaning. First Nations children were rounded up, ripped from their families, and forced to live in regional schools run by church entities. Rather than being loving and nurturing environments, they were harsh and abusive experiences. Not what you'd expect from religious adults.

Elsie, known lovingly as Chi-Chia (grandmother in the Sliammon language), was protected from being taken away to the Sechelt Residential School many times by the grandparents who raised her. Experiencing just a few years away from home at a young age was tramatic. Being able to live with her grandparents on the Sliammon reserve and in remote camps, Elsie learned the traditional language and ways. Because of the disruption to normal life caused by residential schools, much has been lost, including speakers of the Sliammon language. Now as a Sliammon elder, she is preserving what she knows and remembers.

Up the Coast
The book was written in Elsie’s voice from the recordings she made. The text has been edited to make it more accessible to all readers. Translations by linguist HonorĂ© Watanabe are included, showing how an oral language is put it into a written form to save it for future generations who have lost their oral roots.

Written as I Remember It tells about Elsie’s ancestors, where they came from, how they lived, and how that merged into modern living. Prejudice had to be overcome, but Elsie constantly strove in a positive manner to make a better life for her family and fellow members of the Sliammon Nation.

This is not an easy book to review. It brings sadness for past and present indignities, but also hope for the future for the Sliammon Nation as it moves towards treaty completion and autonomous self-governance. Thank you Elsie for this heartfelt gift to everyone.

http://www.semicolonblog.com/For more exciting book reviews, head on over to Semicolon's Blog each weekend. -- Margy

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mackerel Sky More Wet than Dry

Summer rains are coming, and that's a good thing. It's been really dry this year and Powell Lake where my cabin floats is at a record low.

An old weather saying, "mackerel sky, more wet than dry," comes to mind. Clouds here in Coastal BC offer a beautiful display in addition to their forecasting properties. I'm constantly taking pictures of the sky in all of its moods.

A mackerel sky is made up of altocumulus clouds, indicators of moisture and instability in the atmosphere. The clouds ride at intermediate levels from 2400-6100 metres (8000-20,000 feet). Altocumulus clouds often precede rain showers or snow flurries.

"Mackerel sky" is the common name for these clouds because they look like scales on a mackerel.

Today is Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world! -- Margy

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coastal BC Birds: Blue Grouse

G is for Blue Grouse

Blue Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) are common throughout most of BC. They can be found in most forests, woodlands, and lowlands. When winter arrives, they move to higher elevations. Females are mottled brown with a gray underside. Males have a prominent yellow-orange comb and white-based feathers covering a bare spot on the side of the neck that is inflated to amplify hooting. A coastal subspecies is known as the Sooty Grouse (D.o. fuliginosus). They can be distinguished by their darker tone to their plumage.

You know spring has arrived when you hear the thumping sounds of mating grouse. The drumming sound is created when the male sits on a high branch and beats his wings. When a female arrives, if she deems him to be a qualified candidate, mating occurs.

When Wayne and I first heard the thumping sound, we thought it was treetops hitting each other in the wind. We named it Thumper. Later when John told us the true source of the sound we felt a bit foolish.

On summer quad rides in the Powell River backcountry you are guaranteed to see one or more grouse flying up from the roadside. Some are obviously leading you away from a nearby nest. I found this female on Diane Main, sitting still long enough for a photo opportunity.

References: Field Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic, 2002) and Complete Birds of North America edited by Jonathan Alderfer (National Geographic, 2014).

p.s. Determining the type of grouse was hard for me. They are so similar. If anyone out there is a bird expert, let me know what you think.

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.

Camera Critters I'm also linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Coastal BC Reptiles: Common Garter Snake

Coastal BC doesn’t have many kinds of snakes, and none are venomous, thank goodness. But what we lack in variety, is made up in quantity, especially when it comes to garter snakes. There are at least three species in our area, the Wandering Garter Snake, the Northwestern Garter Snake, and the Common Garter Snake.

Around the cabin we see mostly Common Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). They can be identified by the yellow dorsal stripe going down the back, a dark band between the yellow back and side stripes.

Garter Snakes are mild mannered snakes that live in both dry and moist habitats. They are good simmers, often entering lakes and rivers to feed or escape predators. On warm days, they like to bask in the sun.

Benefits of having garter snakes around include their eating habits. They prey on mice, insects, amphibians (including young invasive bullfrogs), and small fish. They are also fun to watch.

In the winter, garter snakes group together winter underground in hibernacula. In spring, the males exit first. They wait around at the entrance until the females emerge to what amounts to a mating frenzy. Unlike some snakes, young are born live in mid-summer.

We call our garter snakes Buster.
We see them either sunning on the lower cabin decks, or swimming in the water nearby.

The undulating motion is mesmerizing to watch. One memorable day we saw a battle to the death between Buster and an unsuspecting frog on our natural swimming pool’s rocky beach. The poor frog disappeared to be digested slowly starting with a hind leg, then progressing slowly up to the body with the head disappearing last. What a terrible experience for the poor frog! But that’s nature.

Do you have garter snakes where you live? Do you have any observations to share?

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Banana Nut Bread

I keep buying bananas, and we keep forgetting to eat them. Once they get soft, they go begging.

This week I had two large bananas beyond their shelf life. I decided to make a breakfast brunch for Wayne and include fresh baked Banana Nut Bread. Here’s the recipe I used from my favourite Fannie Farmer cookbook.

Banana Nut Bread

3 ripe bananas, well mashed
2 eggs, well beaten
2 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup walnuts

It’s simple. Mash the bananas with a fork. Beat the eggs in a bowl then add the bananas. Mix well. Add flour, sugar, salt and baking soda and stir. Add nuts (I used pecans because I prefer their flavour).

Grease an 8½ X 4½ loaf pan. Pour batter (it will be runny) into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until the top is brown with a crack running down the middle.

NOTE: I didn’t have three bananas, but the ones I had were large. To make up for the missing ingredient, I added ¼ cup of vegetable oil. That replaced the liquid from the missing banana, and added moistness in its own right.

Wayne was patient and we had a noon brunch with warm Banana Nut Bread with butter, scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee. That will hold us all the way to dinner for sure. And leftovers will be tasty for future breakfasts, lunches or snacks.

Hop on over to the Homestead Blog Hop and see some great ideas for homestead and simple living.

Prudent Living on the HomefrontVisit the HomeAcre Hop for additional great ideas about do-it-yourself living.

http://nancyonthehomefront.com/Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Swimming Pool Weather

This summer has had many great days for swimming. Our "pool" is a natural part of the lake with it's own granite beach.

We aren't the only ones who enjoy a good swim on a hot summer day.

Bro, John's faithful dog, came for a visit and really appreciated a dip to get his hot black coat cool again. Bro is an old man as dogs go, but in the water he acts like a young pup.

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