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 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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Satellite Radio

Last week I posted about technology, explaining that our float cabin is off the "technology grid" for Internet. But we do use satellite technology for radio.  We've had XM radio (now SiriusXM Satellite Radio) for over ten years. Ours is set up on our kitchen shelf along with our phones (tech central). From here, wires lead to their antennas.
We love listening to audio for television channels such as CNBC (for Wayne's stocks) and CNN (for world news). Wayne follows U.S. professional and college sports on channels like ESPN Sports Radio and College Sports Nation.  We also enjoy today's hits and classics on The Pulse. Having a wide range of music, news, investment, sports, and talk radio keeps us up to date with current affairs.

Satellite radio does have one drawback. On occasion, transmissions are interrupted, usually only briefly when weather and wind conditions are the worst. Speakers indoors and out let us listen to our hearts content. Here up the lake, we have the best of both radio worlds, traditional and satellite. -- Margy

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Islands in the Sun

This time of year, our skies are usually cloudy or foggy. Occasionally, they are brilliantly clear. Recently, we headed down the lake on calm water with bright blue above, and beautiful reflections below.

Cassiar Island in the foreground with a small cabin on the shore.

On our way, we passed .75 acre Cassiar Island. Before the dam at the mill, installed in the early 1900s, Cassiar was larger and the site of a produce farm for the new town of Powell River. Now it's privately owned with two cabins and several outbuildings. A warning light on the west shore guides logging crew boats (and cabin owners).

Goat Island on the right with fog still hanging in First Narrows.

Next is huge Goat Island that makes Powell Lake circumnavigate its steep shores. And yes, you can see mountain goats climbing its towering cliffs on the north shore. Goat was instrumental in the creation of Powell Lake, forcing ice age glaciers around its resilient granite outcroppings. Grinding ice and embedded rock carved a deep fjord all the way around on it's way to the sea.

Our cabin looks out on the southwest shore. The triple rounded peaks remind me of a sleeping sea monster. Yes, sea monster. At the bottom of Powell Lake is ancient sea water trapped after the glaciers receded. Goat Island the first thing we see every morning, and the last view we get every night. When we see Goat, we know we're home. -- Margy

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fog at the Shinglemill

Fog cleared from Powell Lake in what seemed like just moments.

But, the narrow channel of Powell River let the remaining fog over the Strait of Georgia make its way to the Shinglemill marina.

Our finger was easily visible at the edge of the gloom, but the boat launch next to the Shinglemill Pub was still obscured. -- Margy

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cleaning Woodstove Creosote

Last week I told you about how important our chainsaw is for gathering wood. Without our wood-burning stove, we couldn't live in our cabin year-round. Another important task is maintaining our woodstove to prevent creosote buildup.

Several times during the burning season, Wayne goes up on the porch roof to clean out the external stovepipe. At least once a year, we remove and clean the indoor pipe and scoop ash off the smoke shelf. There are two beneficial reasons. The first, is safety. Creosote can cause chimney fires. Secondly, the fire burns more efficiently, which in turn reduces creosote buildup. Here's what came out of the pipe this time.

I designed a tool to use to help scrape out the horizontal pipes. I call it a Woodstove Sock Puppet. Since we always clean our pipe when there's no fire, it isn't dangerous to you a cloth device. The extra surface area helps Wayne scoop out as much buildup as possible.

Now our woodstove is burning bright, and we're Kozi warm off the grid. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's just like the Golden Gate Bridge ...

... once you're finished painting, you have to start all over again. That's what Wayne says about our float cabin deck.

At least once a year, the cedar boards need to be repainted with wood stain. We've tried a variety of colours. The first was light tan, but it didn't go well with our light yellow walls. Then we tried redwood, and it was a hit.

The wood stain helps our cedar deck boards last longer. Another bonus, the slimy moss that used to come after winter rains doesn't form on the painted surface. That used to make it dangerous walking outdoors on a wet deck.

Deck painting is one of the things Wayne likes to do alone. Who am I to argue with that? -- Margy

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cabin Baking: Easy Sourdough Starter

My life took a lot of twists and turns last year, and I didn't use my sourdough starter.  When I checked in April, I found my cabin batch had gone bad.  That was a sad day. I'd been nurturing it in my fridge for over four years! But I'd cloned a batch for town. When I cleaned the fridge last week, I was surprised it still appeared OK after a year of neglect. So I took it back up to the cabin to see if it would revive. And to my surprise, it did! YEA!

Here's the original recipe from Sourdough Cookery by Rita Davenport. It's available at Amazon, but maybe you can find one at your favourite used book store like I did. It's a great little paperback with 220 recipes from starter to breads to cakes to main dishes.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water

Don't use metal bowls or utensils. Mix dry ingredients. Add lukewarm water (I used skim milk) and stir to a smooth paste.

Cover with a towel and set in a warm place (85°F/30°C) to sour. Stir several times a day. In 2-3 days, the starter will be ready. Store in a heavy plastic container with a hole in the lid (or a small plastic bag) to allow gases to escape. I also use a bowl underneath to catch drips. Wayne says it's "alive" (actually the yeast is) when it bubbles over like the blob.

When using your starter, always reserve at least 1/2 cup. Replenish it with 1/2 cup water (again, I use skim milk for a tangier flavour) and 1/2 cup flour. Leave out overnight, stir down and return it to the refrigerator. They recommend "feeding" your starter once a week if you don't use it, but mine lasted a LOT longer.

 If it doesn't bubble enough, add a little extra dry yeast and lukewarm water for a boost. Sometimes a clear liquid will form on top. That's OK, just stir it back in. If the starter or liquid turns pink, it needs to be discarded.

I like to add starter to my pancake mix for an extra special taste. Here are some of my recipes using sourdough starter:

Sourdough Biscuits
Sourdough Wheat Bread
Sourdough Sopapillas
No-Knead Sourdough Bread 
Buttery Sourdough Pan Rolls

Do you have any favourite sourdough recipes? I'd love to hear them. -- Margy

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Oh Sunny Day!

Each sunny day this time of year deserves celebration.

Can you see the line of clouds just over the treetops? That's evidence of the jet stream. The jet stream is an area of fast moving air where air masses meet. This shows we are in a fair weather pocket north of the jet - YEA!

Here's a link to jet stream maps from the California Regional Weather Server at the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences at San Francisco State University. For a change, the weather images don't stop at the Canadian border! -- Margy

Friday, November 08, 2013

Three Sunsets

On a normal day, we get two sunsets. The first is when the sun sinks below the Bunster Range to the west and direct sunlight leaves our cabin deck. The second, is when the sun's shadow reaches the top of Goat Island in front of our cabin. For us, that's second sunset.

But this time of year, we experience three sunsets. The trees across the Hole in the Wall start blocking the sun's rays at 3:15 pm. The sun's brilliance fades and the temperature instantly cools.

About 15 minutes later, the sun exits from the treetops and the warm direct sun returns.  Then it arcs lower in the sky heading for the Bunsters to set for a second time.

Finally, the shadow climbs up the side of Goat Island until 5:45 pm, pushing the last sunlight into the darkening sky for a brief twilight.

All of this happens at a much faster rate than in the summer. And of course, we have lots of cloud covered and foggy days with no sunsets.  I'll take three sunsets any time. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Samantha's Quest of a Lifetime

Q is for Quest

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce a high school student from Powell River, BC, who dreams of going on a personal quest to Antarctica as part of an educational program called Students on Ice to learn about environmental issues and climate change. I wish I had embarked on such an opportunity.

I read about Samantha's quest in an article in the Powell River Peak. You can read the article and see her picture here. Samantha said:
I am excited and inspired by the natural environment and think it is important for my generation to learn about sustainability and climate change. I think that the hands-on learning of the expedition will teach me about world issues in a new and different way, and I want to be able to share what I learn with other students at my school and in the community when I get back.
The expedition will be from December 27, 2013 to January 10, 2014.  Samantha has a fundraising goal of $15,000 to become one of a select group of 70 students from around the world.

Samantha is a community oriented grade 11 student, and is using money from her summer job to help pay her own way. Wayne and I decided immediately we wanted to donate to help Samantha with her quest. If you would like to help, go to and use the donate button. Write in the message/instruction box that the donation is for Samantha (her last name is in the Peak article). The Students on Ice Foundation is a registered Canadian charity. Donations over $100 receive a tax receipt, but all donations will help this deserving girl on a quest. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Stihl Chainsaw Maintenance

This time of year we use our chainsaw a lot. We are gathering wood to store for winter use in our Kozi woodstove.  Some wood we gather from the lake is a burnable kindling size, but to get larger chunks we need to cut small logs for splitting.

Lately, Wayne's saw has been hard to start and struggles when cutting even smaller logs. So he got out the manual for our Stihl chainsaw and broke it down to give it some good maintenance. Over the years, our good friend John has done this for us. But Wayne has learned a lot from him to become more self sufficient.

It was a bit scary to see all those parts on the picnic table. For one thing, a small nut or other part could roll off and fall through the cracks to the lake water below. The other thought was, would it all go back together and run.  But all went well, and we were back to our wood gathering project in no time. -- Margy

Monday, November 04, 2013

Preserving: Frozen Stewed Tomatoes

We enjoyed fresh tomatoes all October. Even though I picked them green in late September to ripen indoors, they turned out perfect. But when it came time for a trip at the end of October, I had a few left we couldn't consume.

I decided to stew the last and freeze them. It's so nice to have a regular size propane refrigerator with a large freezer at the cabin. It was one of the improvements we made in 2011 that has made our off-the-grid home perfect.

I diced the remaining tomatoes and heated them through on my propane stove (another of our 2011 upgrades). I used my Bernadin plastic freezer jars and got five half pints. They'll be handy to grab for soups, sauces, or casseroles.

I love eating food I've grown myself. In the winter, the garden is pretty dormant, so having a taste of summer makes me remember that the seasons cycle, and summer will return in due time. -- Margy

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Blow Me Down

After our long bout with fog ...

... we had a front move through bringing lots of northwest wind.

The trees on the bluff gave up lots of needles to float on the calm lake the next morning. -- Margy

Friday, November 01, 2013

Cardinal and Gold vs Orange and Black
It's football weekend. Wayne and I came down to Oregon State in Corvallis to watch the match-up with our team from the University of Southern California. The USC Trojans met the Oregon Beavers for an excellent football game this evening.

The 31 to 14 winning results gave the Trojans a 6-3 record (2nd for the south division of the PAC12) and the Beavers a 6-3 record (3rd for the north division of the PAC12). Things are heating up with just a few conference games to go for the season.

While we can't make it to Berkley for the next USC game against Cal (Saturday, November 9, at noon), you can be sure Wayne and I will be watching it on television. Fight on! -- Margy