Monday, June 03, 2019

"Becoming Wild" by Nikki Van Schyndel
When I learned an author I've read was going to be on the History Channel Alone: The Arctic TV series, I went to my personal library and got her book out for a second read.

The book is Becoming Wild and the author is Nikki Van Schyndel (Caitlin Press, 2014). I knew it would be a book I would enjoy and wasn't disappointed either time. It's a memoir, it's by a woman who challenged herself to live in a remote location, it's about a region fairly close to where I live in Coastal BC, and includes detailed descriptions of "experiments" and "learnings from Coastal First Nations people" she used to survive.

Nikki, Micah (a man she met during survival school), and her feral cat Scout planned and lived a survivalist lifestyle that spanned two island locations and more than a year in the coastal rainforest of the Broughton Archipelago. When a dilapidated trailer at Native Anchorage on Village Island turn out to be uninhabitable, they erected their own primitive shelter. It was a struggle to find enough food that first winter.

A typical Coastal BC rocky shoreline.

Nikki and Micah had a rowboat they used for transportation, fishing, and to get to Echo Bay on Gilford Island once every month or two to get mail and reconnect with family by phone. After meeting Billy Proctor, a well know resident, they took his suggestion and left Native Anchorage to set up a rustic cabin structure in Booker Lagoon on Broughton Island. Life wasn't easy, but Nikki was able absorb the natural spirituality of the land and sea, ultimately transforming herself into a better person.

Coastal BC has lots of private places to explore.

When the adventure was done, Nikki and Micah parted ways. Nikki and Scout returned to the city, but life there was so foreign after living in nature. She returned to remote Echo Bay, bought property from Billy Proctor and built a log cabin of her own. Billy is a prominent figure in many of the books written about the region such as Full Moon, Flood Tide by Bill Proctor and Yvonne Maximchuk and Heart of the Raincoast by Alexandra Morton and Bill Proctor.

Becoming Wild is available in both print and e-book formats at Amazon and other online booksellers.

For your information, Season 6 of Alone: The Arctic on the History Channel premiers on June 6. Nikki, another Canadian woman named Michelle Wohlberg, and eight other contestants will test their solo survival skills near Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories.

You can see more of the The Arctic trailers on YouTube by clicking here. Then check your local television listing to watch it live. Click here for Canadian History Channel information and here for the States.

Also check out her website The Magic, Master and Madness of Wilderness Living where she uses the moniker Daisy Crockett and her YouTube Channel Becoming Wild.

Do you have any off-the-grid or women's survival memoirs to recommend? I'm always looking for a good read.

There's also the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Spring Gardening Update

Winter carrots and beets gone wild!
Wayne and I got home after six weeks away from our Powell Lake float cabin home. When we left it was early spring and my winter vegetables in the floating garden were good to pick and eat. The weather was cool and rain was plentiful.

While we were gone the temperature rose and rain diminished, only one inch while we were gone. Our good friend John came twice to water, but everything was bone dry by the time we arrived.

My garlic fared well with the dry conditions.

I was amazed at how well the plants were doing under such harsh conditions. For the last three days I've been cleaning up deck containers and the floating garden.

Perennials on the transition float, blueberries and herbs.

Unlike previous years, I won't have a summer garden. I'll maintain my perennials including blueberries, a red currant, herbs, my Dracaena Spike Plants that are getting ready to bloom again, four small cedar and fir trees, and a few containers of volunteer flowers. This will allow Wayne and me to do more cruising on the chuck in our ocean boat.

The floating garden half done.

Watering will still be needed, but not as much and not as often. Plus, it will be good for my soil to lie fallow and allow some of the pests to die off or move on to greener pastures.

Have you even taken a year off from gardening? How did it go for you?

I invite you to visit a meme called All Seasons. Stop by and take a look.

Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

FREE E-Book: "Up the Lake" by Wayne Lutz

The book that started it all!

Up the Lake
Coastal BC Stories


Head up Powell Lake to experience life in an off the grid float cabin, take a boat to world famous Desolation Sound, ride a quad into the back country and fly overhead for a unique view of this incredible place. Read Up the Lake by Wayne J. Lutz and see how much fun it can be.

Print for $9.95
Kindle for Free
E-Book for Free
(prices may vary in Canada)

for more information and 
additional titles in the Coastal BC Stories series.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Update: Float and Land Cabins for Sale on Powell Lake BC

Wayne and I love living in our float cabin home on Powell Lake in all seasons. Summer is coming and it's the best time of the year to enjoy the lake. Boating, swimming and fishing are incredible on warm, sunny days. Right now there are several float cabins and land properties are on the market, but don't wait too long. They could be gone in a flash. Purchasing our float cabin home 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. Other cabins are for sale by the owners with information on Craigslist or Facebook pages.

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties For Sale

MLS LISTING: 14131 Powell Lake is beautiful float cabin in a bay of its own with sandy beaches near Olsen's Landing.  The large float cabin is ready for you to use in all seasons. It has two stories with plenty of room for family and friends to visit on a warm summer day for sunning, swimming and fishing. It has 3 bedrooms plus extra space upstairs for guests, full and half bathrooms, and a large open concept living area downstairs with a pellet stove to keep you warm. Solar panels for power are quiet and efficient. In back there is also covered boat parking. All of this for $199,900. For more information contact Warren Behan of Royal LePage at 604-485-2324 or click here.

MLS LISTING:  12940 Powell Lake is a float cabin with lots of deck space for outside summer fun, and a swim platform for the little ones.  The open concept cozy cabin has one bedroom downstairs and a sleeping loft. Features include vaulted ceilings, tongue and groove pine ceiling, tongue and groove yellow cedar floor, wood stove, propane fridge, on-demand hot water, stove and freezer. Also included are a generator, solar system and a composting toilet. All this in a great location that's very protected now for $119,900. Click here for more information and pictures, or contact Warren Behan of Royal-LePage at 604-483-8173.

MLS LISTING:  10100 Powell Lake is a large 1200 sq ft float cabin for sale for $159,900. The cabin has 3 bedrooms that can sleep eight comfortably plus a hide-a-bed for 2 more.  Amenities include an on-demand hot water heater and all the bells and whistles. Custom work throughout must be seen to be appreciated. Click here for more information and pictures, or contact Warren Behan of Royal LePage at 604-485-2324.

FACEBOOK LISTING: This Powell Lake owner is taking offers for a 680 sq ft two bedroom float cabin. I comes furnished, has a water supply from a glacier fed waterfall behind the cabin, an on-demand hot water, and a new composting toilet. All remediation for the upland has been finished with a letter being sent. The cabin will be sold with full approval. Lots of winter sun, zunga tree, year round use. It is located just past the hiking trail to Beartooth water fall. Reduced asking price of $95,000. Click here for more information.

FACEBOOK LISTING: Here's an A-frame Powell Lake float cabin in a sunny location on Goat Island just 20 minutes by boat from Shinglemill Marina. Amenities include solar power, composting toilet, shower, on-demand hot water and a new propane cooktop. It has a sleeping loft plus a bunkhouse. The large deck has stairs into water. Everything is in compliance with new water lease rules. Send a pm to the owner on Facebook for more details. The asking price is $129,000. Click here for more information.

FACEBOOK LISTING: Here's a 12-year new float cabin on Powell Lake. It is located on Goat Island before Cassiar Falls and straight across from Fiddlehead. A boat is required to reach this location. Pictures on the Facebook post show that it's beautiful and well-maintained inside and out. The asking price is $185,000. Click here for more information and to contact the seller.

KIJIJI LISTING: There's no picture with this listing for a half share in two cabins on one water lease.  "Two beautiful cabins rarely used on same lease. Excellent condition. Includes wired solar power and new composting toilet. No issues. Sleeps 6. Great location on east side of the lake. Deeper water and extremely well protected. Privacy plus. Owner flexible. Contract would include right of first refusal if either owner decides to sell. Serious inquiries only." The asking price is $90,000. Click here for more information and to contact the seller.

MLS LISTING: 9242 Powell Lake is a land cabin on a half acre waterfront lot with a beautiful sandy beach. It has two bedrooms, a bath with a shower, a large living room with a cozy woodstove. The little kitchen is a perfect .place to prepare meals to enjoy in the glassed-in breakfast room.  A covered front deck is the perfect place to relax on a warm summer evening. There's a lovely garden, a waterside deck and fire pit on the beach, plus a handy sheds for storage and firewood. It’s all ready and waiting for you to enjoy for $279,900. For more information contact Warren Behan of Royal LePage at 604-485-2324 or click here.

CRAIGSLIST LISTING: Powell Lake lakefront freehold land cabin on 1/2 acre complete with two boats (17' Double Eagle and 12' Princecraft). "The cabin and boats are in mint condition." Amenities include hot water on demand, compost toilet, solar system, TV, 2 kayaks and paddle boards, water toys, water pump and hoses, tools, furniture and much more. "Will sell through a realtor, but no one knows a cabin and boats better than the owner." This is a turn-key cabin package for $299,000. For more information contact the owner via Craigslist by clicking here.

MLS LISTING: BC Land Professionals is offering a lakefront lodge. The property is 8.35 acres of Crown lease land (renewal due in 2021) with 1300 feet of lake frontage. There are 5 self contained cedar cottages: 3 two-bedroom and 2 one-bedroom. Each has a full bathroom with showers, sinks, toilets, and full kitchens with brand new appliances. Living and eating areas are fully furnished with wood stoves for heat. The fridge, stove, hot water and lighting are propane. Other buildings includes a wood fired Sauna and tool shed. The foreshore and docks are protected by log breakwater. The complete package is priced at $379,000. Click here for more information and pictures. For more information call toll free at 1-866-558-5263, the office at 604-694-7626 or mobile at (604) 483-1605.

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 and e-books)
Farther Up the Lake
Cabin Number 5
Off the Grid
Off the Grid: Getting Started
Powell Lake by Barge and Quad
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

Saturday, March 30, 2019

"The Trees in My Forest" by Bernd Heinrich

For Christmas Wayne gave me The Trees in My Forest by Bernd Heinrich. He knows I like books about nature and the outdoors, no surprise after being married on Christmas Eve thirty-seven years ago.

Usually we purchase e-books for our Kindles, but this one is special. It includes hand drawn illustrations of the trees in Bernd's Maine forest. I've become interested in illustrating my cabin journals, so it was a good match for my reading and artistic interests.

Bernd was born in Germany in 1940 and moved with his family to Maine as a young boy. He grew up on a farm and loved exploring nearby forests. Now he's a professor emeritus in biology from the University of Vermont and lives between a home in Vermont and a cabin in his western Maine forest.

Fungi, moss and lichen at work in our forest.
After starting with a forestry emphasis at the University of Maine, Bernd switched to biology at UCLA, followed by teaching entomology at UC Berkley. In 1977, he returned to Maine and purchased three hundred acres of former farmland and logged hills. It included a varieties of ecosystems including a steam, swamp, hills, a granite ledge, former pastureland, and a cabin.

A pine reclaiming a Powell Lake forestry road.
Bernd walks us through his property and chronicles change from acquisition in 1977 through the late 1990s. Logged areas and farmlands have regenerated into natural woodlands. He points out the relationships between trees, smaller plants in the understory, fungi, insects and animals. While most of the book is descriptive, there's enough science mixed in to teach the reader something new.

Our cedar, alder, maple and granite outcrops.
Since I live in a logged and forested region, Bernd's story was both engaging and informative. While the trees differ from Maine to Coastal BC, there are some commonalities. We have pine, hemlock, fir, cedar, broadleaf maples and alders. Bernd has spruce, fir, aspen, alder, birch, several varieties of maple and apple trees gone wild. He has granite ledges, even though ours are more prominent.

I enjoyed this book so much I purchased A Year in the Maine Woods. In this earlier work, Bernd settles into a log cabin on his wooded acreage with his pet raven. I don't see any problem reading these books out of order. It will be like a prequel, so popular in films these days.

The Trees in My Forest (Ecco, 1998) by Bernd Heinrich is available online at Amazon and most other online booksellers.

Do you have any books about nature, off-the-grid living or adventure to recommend? I'm always looking for a good read. -- Margy

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Readying My Mason Bee Hotels

Last week I was a guest author about Mason Bees on Farmgal's Just Another Day on the Farm. You can read about it and find links to my previous Mason Bee posts by clicking here.

We just came home after two months away. In my recent post Back Up the Lake I speculated about what we might find.

One thing I was anxious to check was my Mason Bee nesting blocks.

Repainting the Mason Bee Hotels,
Mason Bees start emerging from their cocoons in March. It's a fun process to watch and I hoped I hadn't missed it. Even before I went inside the cabin, I looked at my Mason Bee winter storage box on the side porch. It's a cool spot that only gets a wee bit of sunshine. All was quiet.

I took the opportunity to refurbish my two bee hotels.

The refurbished Bee Hotels with their nesting tubes.

Nesting blocks filled with cocoons.
They haven't had any maintenance since they were repurposed from old birdhouses and attached to a south-facing post on our front porch. The fresh paint not only made them look better, but helped preserve their fiberboard construction for a few more years to come.

Wayne helped me moved the heavy winter storage box to a spot under the porch near the Bee Hotels. It will be protected from any spring showers, yet it will be close enough to the hotels for nesting.

Commercial Mason Bee nesting tubes.
My drilled wood nesting blocks are all full of cocoons. I needed something quick and easy to use for the emerging bees. I chose Milliard cardboard Mason Bee nesting tubes. I prefer the homemade wood ones because they are safe to be left outdoors in a protected spot. Mice love to chew cardboard tubes, so they have to be stored either indoors (in a cool spot) or in a protective container outdoors.

Now the full nesting blocks and the refurbished Mason Bee hotels are on the south facing side of our front porch. The recent warm weather and sun are sure to give them the clue that it's time to emerge.

Do you have nesting places for native bees. It's fun and easy. Here's an online resource to use to get started. Also, plant pollinator friendly flowers in your garden. Bees need all the help we can give them. -- Margy

Friday, March 22, 2019

How to Build a Mason Bee Hotel Series

Te first of a three part guest post series.
Earlier this month, I made a comment on Farmgal's blog Just Another Day on the Farm. It was a post about ordering Mason and Leaf Cutter bee cocoons and an interesting viewing house to watch all the action inside. That led to an invitation to write guest posts about my Mason Bee hotel experiences. Click the links below to read the posts.

Monday was the first of three guest posts in Farmgal's How to Build a Mason Bee Hotel Series. It tells how Wayne and I made nesting blocks by drilling pieces of driftwood.

Wayne helped me drill the holes part way through the blocks.

Tuesday's guest post focused on how we repurposed old birdhouses into Mason Bee hotels to hang on our front porch's south facing post.

Giving the old birdhouse a facelift with new paint.

Wednesday's guest post focused on attracting mason bees and caring for their nesting blocks through the year.

We mount the Bee Hotels on a south facing surface.

If you would like to read my original Powell River Books Blog posts in their entirety, please click on the links below.

Building a Simple Mason Bee Hotel
Drilling Nesting Blocks for a Bee Hotel
Bee Hotel Update
Revitalizing a Bee Hotel

It all started in 2015 with two native Mason Bees nesting behind a small solar panel on our front porch.

The two original Mason Bees nesting in a crevice on the front porch in 2015.

Each year we've expanded the number of nesting blocks to accommodate all of the bees we are helping to multiply. That's good for my garden and for the natural surroundings where we live.

Chickens pictured on Farmgal's blog.
Thank you Farmgal for letting us share our experiences.

I encourage you to get to know Farmgal. She's a fellow Canadian who lives on a farm near Ottawa. You can find her online at:

Just Another Day on the Farm
On Twitter as @farmgal1800
On Facebook Just Another Day on the Farm
And Farmgal for Hire

Do you have a Mason Bee hotel or nesting sites for other natural bees? Do you raise honeybees? What are your experiences? All bees need our help so they can continue to help us! -- Margy