Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Lake Christmas
with credits and apologies to Irving Berlin

I'm dreaming of a lake Christmas
Up where the wind does like to blow
Where the wood stove blazes
And chimney smoke lazes
O'r the roof frosted with snow.

I'm dreaming of a lake Christmas
With every day that comes to pass
May your year be one of gladness
And may Christmas be one you can't surpass.

Merry Christmas
Wayne and Margy

Powell River Books

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cabin Cooking: Persimmons

I remember seeing my grandmother eat persimmons. She enjoyed them after they became soft enough to eat with a spoon. Recently, I saw an article in Sunset magazine.

I saw persimmons at Quality Foods and bought one. It was bright orange, but hard, so I put it on a shelf to ripen. After three weeks I decided to give it a try. I cut it like an apple, removed the center, and peeled the skin. It was juicy, but to me didn't have a distinctive taste.

This is a Fuyu persimmon and it's best eaten fresh and firm. The one I remember Grandma eating was a Hachiya. Those are eaten soft or used in cooking.  I think I prefer the firm kind even though I've never tasted a soft one.  Do you like persimmons? Which kind do you like? -- Margy

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Solar Sweeper

Making solar power in winter can be difficult. With only two hours of direct sunlight (if we get any), our batteries get a minimal charge. Add to that a dusting of snow, and our capacity drops to nearly nothing.

That's when I send out the solar sweeper to clear our panels. He's better at it than I am, especially with the two on the cabin roof and the one on top of his writer's retreat boat, the Gemini. I guess I could help out with these smaller panels that run the fan in our composting toilet, but why mess with a good thing. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Woodstove Ironing

Our cabin uses off-the-grid sources for electrical power. That really limits the things we can use. Here's a useful chart about the watts needed for common appliances. An electric iron uses 1000 watts to operate. Yikes! That would suck our batteries down in one big gulp.

I got to thinking about other ways to get the job done. In my great grandmother's day they used irons (made out of iron) that were heated on a wood stove. Here's her iron. I still have it. What could I use?

I went to my favourite thrift store, the Economy Shop, in Powell River. I purchased an iron for $2.00 and took it up to the cabin. I wrapped up the cord and placed it on my wood stove to heat.

I used a towel and sheet on my picnic table to make an ironing board. I had to reheat the iron several times, but it worked like a charm. I wouldn't want to use it on delicate fabrics, but for cottons and such it was hot enough to press out the wrinkles, yet cool enough not to scorch. I may end up cutting off the cord. For sure, at 1000 watts, I'll never plug it in off the grid! -- Margy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Semi-Homemade Curtains

My "new" window in the downstairs bedroom has been waiting for curtains since John completed it in 2012. I wanted to use heavy winter suiting like my other curtains, but I couldn't find any in the right colour. Finally, I found some store bought curtains at Fred Meyer in Bellingham.

They were long enough for a full-sized window, but the price was right. For the two panels, with my "senior discount," they were $17.99. So I got my scissors out and cut them down to size. A hand sewn hem got them ready in sort order.

http://www.amazon.com/CURTAIN-EXPANDING-WHITE-METRE-HOOKS/dp/B007IWXVNQWayne installed the curtain wire for me. I had enough left over from my bathroom curtain, so that part was free. It's a simple solution that includes a PVC coated wire, hooks and eyes. There's enough in the kit for three good sized windows.

The curtains are thin, but do the trick. I keep them open when we're home. They close only when we're away. I may make some replacements if I ever find the right material. But for now, semi-homemade will do the trick.

Come back tomorrow to see how I got the wrinkles pressed out, and the hem ironed flat. You just might be surprised. -- Margy

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cool and Crisp

I love living up the lake this time of year. Everything is cool and crisp.

The summer visitors have gone and the lake belongs to the work boats traveling through First Narrows and us. Do you like being alone? Where is your quiet spot? - Margy

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sun Bathing Winter Style

These last few weeks have been unusually cold, with dustings of snow. But they've also had their share of sunshine.

Unfortunately, this time of year "sunrise" comes over the trees at 9:30 a.m. and sets over the next set of trees by noon.

As you can see, we grab what we can get, when we can get it. I like a cup of hot coffee to keep me warm while soaking up the rays.

Wayne looks like a USC Band member in his shades.

Getting sunshine in the winter is important to keep the winter blues away. It's a much more natural solution than the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lights they keep advertizing on the radio. -- Margy

Sunday, December 08, 2013

What goes up, must come down!

That applies to objects thrown in the air, and items from up the lake.  When we bought our float cabin from John in 2001, it came fully furnished. One item was especially dear to Wayne, the floral sofa. It reminded him of one he had growing up in New York.

But sofas only last so long. It gave us twelve good years (and at least that many for its previous owner).  It was time to retire and head down the lake. I looked everywhere in Powell River and found the perfect replacement at Mitchell Brothers Home Furniture.

Peter Mitchell is a great guy. He helped me look at lots of possibilities online, but right in his store was just what I wanted. The size was a match, and I loved the fabric and colour. Another good thing is Mitchell's delivers, even to the Shinglemill marina. So Wayne and I put our old sofa in the boat, and gave it a ride down the lake.

At the dock, the delivery guys unloaded our old sofa, and got our new one in for its ride up the lake. Once inside the cabin (we did have to remove the sliding glass door to get it in), we all settled in for a comfy evening by the fire. Thanks Peter! -- Margy

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Fill 'er up, please!

Stick Tail is getting to be a good traveler.  He used to be very reluctant, but now that he has more experience, he hardly seems to mind.

Once a week he takes a ride to and from town with us. Now that it's winter, we can't leave him home alone overnight. It get very cold inside the cabin without a fire in the woodstove.

We usually try to go straight up the lake, but last weekend we needed to get gas in the boat before we left the marina.  Doesn't Stick look like he is enjoying the experience? I even think I heard him say, "Fill 'er up, check the oil, and don't forget the windshield." -- Margy

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Simple Cabin Porch Enclosure

Winter is here. Wayne and I love to use our porch in all seasons, but when it rains, or is breezy, it's hard to do. The roof keeps rain off, but cold seeps in underneath. Restaurants extend outdoor seating by enclosing their porches and installing propane heaters.

We figured we could do something similar at our cabin. We purchased a sheet of heavy weight polyethylene greenhouse plastic at Rona. Because the package was open, and it was the last one on the shelf, we got it for $2 a square foot, or a total of $32.

We purchased four 8' 1x2s for a total of $4.50 (with Wayne's senior discount). We measured twice, and cut once. We had green wood stain left from painting our cabin two years ago. We tried to get it to dry outdoors, but rainy weather made us bring the boards indoors to finish drying in the kitchen.

We rolled the cut plastic around the boards and tacked it down. As you can see, we didn't beat the rain.  Because we get heavy winds on the front of our cabin, we designed the porch enclosure to be easily installed and removed for periods of heavy winds.

Boards at the top allow us to hang the plastic sheets from nails on the porch beam.  Boards at the bottom hold the plastic down on the deck. Small blocks of wood nailed to the deck next to the picnic table help hold the plastic in place at the bottom.

Clips along the sides hold the plastic sheets in place along the porch posts. These help keep the sides closed in a light breeze. But if the wind gets strong, we can remove the panels and roll them up for safe keeping.

Under the picnic table we have a Mr. Heater "Big Buddy." He's attached to a 20 pound propane tank just outside the enclosure. He provides plenty of heat, and now the enclosure will contain more of it.

We tried our new porch enclosure and heater for our Thanksgiving feast at the picnic table. We had plenty of heat to enjoy our dinner outdoors after dark, in a light rain.  What a nice way to spend a special day together up the lake. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

BC Ferry in Drydock

When we got back to the cabin way back on October 6, we saw lots of evidence of heavy winds. One of the mooring lines to our writer's retreat boat Gemini was snapped. So was the mooring line to our BC Ferry tied to the transition float.

I took this picture of a buoy that jumped over the log boom, but didn't notice that our ferry was hiding out there as well. By the time I realized where it was, it was too lake. Powell Lake has strange ways and currents. Sometimes she takes things away, sometimes she sends them home again (see Stumpy's story).

This week I was walking out to the transition float and saw our missing ferry floating just under the surface. She was almost filled with water (instead of air). I pulled her out and placed her in drydock tied to a chair. Once she drains, we'll find and plug her leaks. If ever a ferry deserved to go back into service, this one does. -- Margy

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cabin Baking: San Francisco Sourdough French Bread

It's been a long time since I've baked bread. I like doing it, but don't often get the chance to devote so much time to the activity. After a period of dormancy, I've been feeding my sourdough starter regularly. To use some of the excess, I've made sourdough pancakes. This week I thought I would give bread another try.

I won't give my recipe yet because I wasn't totally pleased with the results. But it was fun to get my hands into the dough, and the results were good enough to eat (always a plus). My starter isn't totally back in shape, so I added some extra commercial yeast.

I had to share the kitchen with Wayne who was making our Thanksgiving dinner, so I let the loaf rise too long before baking. You can see it's trying to take over the cookie sheet, and was getting ready to head over the sides. I brushed the top with water and made some distinctive slits with a knife.

A golden crispy crust goes a long way in my book. After eating fresh bread with our prime rib dinner cooked on the BBQ, I've used the leftovers to make croutons for our salads and garlic toast. There's more than one way to fix a so-so loaf.

Do you bake bread? Do you have any favourite sourdough recipes to share? -- Margy

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Powell Lake Boathouses

For years, boathouses were a fixture in Powell River.  I really mean in Powell River.  At five-eighths of a mile, it claims to be the second shortest in the world. It's free flowing distance is even shorter with the hydro-electric dam built in 1912 that blocks it's route to the sea.

In this short river at the south end of Powell Lake, there used to be 25 boathouses. They were there for many years, but in 2006 were deemed to be a danger to the dam, thus removal was required. It was a quiet and orderly retreat, a rare occurrence for a town that holds its historic roots in high esteem.

Now you'll find many of those boathouses in different parts of Powell Lake. Some are up the lake at float cabins, some are at the logging company near Mowat Bay, and some are at the Powell Lake Marina we lovingly call "The Shinglemill." They always make me reflect on what life must have been like when the town was smaller, the mill was more community minded, and life was a little more simple. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New GMC Sierra 1500 4X4 Truck

Wayne and I've been talking about replacing our truck. It runs fine, but it's a 1997. Last week I went to the two dealers in Powell River. I started with Ford because I consider myself a Ford person. My first car was a Mustang, and I've had mostly Fords throughout my life.

Then I went to the GM dealer. I told Scott what I was looking for. His suggestied a white truck. I said, "Anything but white!" "Well, how about this one?" There was a maroon (Sonoma Red Metallic) GMC Sierra 1500 4X4 next to it. I said, "That's perfect." Scott let me take it for a test drive, so I went down to the condo to surprise Wayne. As you can see, it's a new version of our old truck. We went back the next day and sealed the deal. We have to wait for a matching canopy and bed liner, so our trusty old truck will stay in service a little bit longer.

If you're in the market for a new (or used vehicle), go down to Massullo Motors in Powell River and ask for Scott Franklin.

Massullo Motors Ltd (GM)
4493 Joyce Ave
Phone: (604) 485-7981

Scott's a great salesman who really takes care of his customers. And, it's always a good thing to shop local. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Slices: A Memoir Anthology

Last week, I went to town to hear readings from Slices: A Memoir Anthology published by the Powell River Public Library.

The Library, with funding from Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program, has been conducting memoir writing workshops. This great book is the result. In it, you will find short stories from near and far -- even a "road trip" by Rudy, Squirrely Shirley, and Whitey to "shake and bake" California.

Joan read "Teen Town Rock and Roll" when famous Vancouver DJ Red Robinson came to the Saturday night dance at the Powell River Elk's Lodge. Her words take you back to 1958, and out on the floor, twisting and bopping along with Joan in her neon blue felt poodle skirt.

If you'd like a fun evening, another reading is at 6:30 pm, Thursday, December 5, at Breakwater Books and Coffee, 6812 Alberni Street. For more information contact Sandra Tonn 604.485.8667 or stonn@powellriverlibrary.ca. You can also contact Sandra about future memoir classes. -- Margy

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Early Snow

November has brought early snow up the lake.

It isn't heavy yet, but the dusting in the high country makes for beautiful reflections on Powell Lake.

How is November treating you? Are you getting lots of snow yet? -- Margy

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mouse Motel

It's no fun to get home and find you've been invaded by mice. We figured we'd been inundated by hoards because there was evidence -- in the kitchen, bathroom, even upstairs in the bedroom. You know what I mean - poop everywhere!

I attacked the kitchen with hot water and soap. Wayne checked possible entry points. I had to throw out bags of trail mix, dried cranberries, even Stick Tail's dry cat food.  Wayne got our Havahart live trap and set it up under the pantry.

Before bed we caught our first mouse and Wayne put him outdoors. In the morning, he set up the "Mouse Motel" with a large plastic tub complete with water, food, and a plywood roof.  The second night we caught mouse number two.  When Wayne went to add him to the "Mouse Motel," he got a surprise. He found three mice huddled together. During the night, two more jumped inside to get the food.

We didn't catch any more, so Wayne put the "Mouse Motel" in our tin boat and headed to Goat Island. On the way, he saw a mouse running along the gunnels. He donned his gloves and returned the escapee to his "room." At the island, all four mice scurried off to find new homes.  But as Wayne was on his way back, he saw a fifth mouse running along the gunnels. Maybe he was a stowaway from under the boat's floorboards. Wayne reunited him with his buddies.

Fortunately, for the guest in our "Mouse Motel," they check in, and they DO check out. -- Margy

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sunrise on a Frosty Morn

This week the temperatures have dipped below freezing at night.

Got to be a bit careful, the deck is frosty and slippery ...

... until the sun comes up to melt it off. -- Margy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Saving Geraniums Through Winter

Last year, I was successful in keeping some of my geraniums alive outdoors over winter. You can see what I did here. Two of the four roots survived and regrew into beautiful big plants with large blossoms. This year I had even more geraniums, so I decided to try again.

I trimmed back and dug up all nine of my plants (including the two survivors).  The soil was dry and the roots came out in balls that I tried to leave undisturbed. I replanted all of them close together in one large blue barrel on the transition float.

To make a mini-greenhouse, I bought a clear plastic paint drop sheet at Canadian Tire. There was plenty left to use in case a replacement is needed later during the winter. I also bought a long heavy weight bungee cord to hold it in place. I poked small slits around the edge about 5 cm (2 in) apart to allow the plants to "breathe."

The blue barrel is in direct sunlight (if we get any) for most of the day. My plan to periodically open the top on warmer days so the plants can get more air circulation. After the leaves die back, and before long freezing nights arrive, I will mulch the surface of the soil with crumpled newspaper like I did last year.

Last year's survivors ready for a new winter.
Hopefully this will help prevent the roots from freezing to death. I'll let you know in the spring how my experiment turns out. Hopefully there will be more survivors to tell the tale. -- Margy