Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Powell River Peak

The Powell River Peak is our hometown newspaper.

Two issues are published each week, the Wednesday subscription edition and the Friday Weekend Shopper. I just love this paper.

When Wayne and I first discovered Powell River, we started subscribing and had the papers mailed to our home near Los Angeles. We would sit and read all the articles, editorials (quite feisty at times), and ads from cover to cover. I especially enjoy the commercial and classified ads. You learn so much about a town from what people are buying, selling, and announcing. Now that we live in Powell River, we get our delivery here in town, and I love our hometown paper more than ever.

The PEAK does have a free online version, but it doesn't include all of those wonderful ads. But you can subscribe to a digital version that does include everything.

The PEAK also uses social media to reach out to readers. Check out:
Do you have a small town newspaper? What are your favourite parts? -- Margy

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Winch and A Log

We made it through winter with just enough firewood. That's a great feeling. Some years we do a second cut in January, but not this one.

Now we can start getting ready for next year. We save prospective logs in the water tied to our woodshed float. They get pretty waterlogged, so we decided to cut up the last one and let it start drying.

The first step is to get it out of the water. We use the winch Wayne installed to pull our tin boat out of the water. Once the log is on the dock, he can chainsaw it into chunks for drying. Later, we'll start up the log splitter and get it stacked.

Wood in the shed, is like money in the bank. You can never have too much. -- Margy

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Valerie Parr Hill Mercury Glass Decorations

This year, our good friend Jeanne gave us some wonderful decorations for the cabin. Their reflected light is wonderful.

First was a set of Valerie Parr Hill Glass Spheres in small, medium, and large. They can be hung or have a flat bottom for table display. They come in several colours. Jeanne has blue, we have green ones. A timer controls a 6-hour on, 18-hour off cycle. They are indoor/outdoor rated, but we use ours indoors. Lying in bed, we can watch the flickering glow reflected on the ceiling. Three C batteries each last over two months.

Next came a set of three Glass Mason Jars. They use 3 AA batteries, have a 4-hour on and 20-hour off cycle, and last for over four months. We like two on the picnic table outside for dinner by "candlelight."

Here's a short video showing our spheres and ever present solar "Christmas" lights.

Jeanne shops online at QVC, but shipping is limited to the US. Unfortunately, I didn't find Canadian sources other than ebay. -- Margy

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blue Sky Above, Blue Water Below

What better way to spend an evening than out trolling on a sunny spring evening. Well, maybe the only thing that would have made it better would have been a nibble at the end of our lines.

Fishing season on Powell Lake opened on April 1, but someone forgot to tell the fish. On the other hand, maybe they did get the word.

Even so, who can complain with sky and mountain views like these. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Viewing Outer Space

Many of you know my husband Wayne writes. He has eleven Coastal BC Stories about our off the grid float cabin home and  adventures in the Powell River region, but his true love is outer space and writing science fiction.

Wayne has always been a bit nerdy. (I say that in the kindest way.  Look at the popularity of  The Big Bang Theory about physicists, an astrophysicist, and a mechanical engineer to name a few.) His undergraduate degree is in physics, with systems management for a masters. He interned at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, but opted for a career in military aircraft maintenance and aeronautical education.

Portable Astroscan Telescope
Along the way, he's always maintained an interest in outer space. Telescopes large and small have been a way of life from his teens to the present. We even have one on permanent "display" in our float cabin kitchen, ready to deploy for nighttime or solar viewing.

Kitchen telescope storage.
Wayne's an avid reader. Most writers are. Monthly subscriptions of Sky and Telescope (U.S.)  and SkyNews (Canada) are devoured cover to cover. It's no wonder that the study of space would lead to imagining other possible worlds, universes, or entities. Wayne's science fiction reading (and writing) is in the hard science fiction category. Some of his favourite authors include Elizabeth Moon, Gregory Benford, and Robert J. Sawyer.

Telescopes set up on Texada Island, BC.
If you would like to read more about Wayne's alter ego, check out his science fiction website by clicking here, and watch for upcoming free e-book promotions to get a taste of his outer space hard science fiction offerings. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cabin Cooking: Taco Pie

Wayne is First Cook at the cabin, but as Second Cook I get to do meals that involve the oven vs. the BBQ. For a change of pace this week, I made Taco Pie from a recipe I found in a magazine. But as usual, I made some modifications.


8 corn tortillas (use flour if you prefer)
1 chorizo sausage
1/2 pound hamburger
1 sweet pepper
1/2 large onion
1 small can diced tomatoes
1/2 can red kidney beans
1/2 package taco mix
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup salsa (optional)
1 cup grated cheese

If you are using pre-cooked chorizo, dice it before browning. If you are using fresh, remove it from the sausage casing before cooking. Lightly brown chorizo and hamburger in a skillet. Remove any excess fat.

Add diced onion and pepper. Saute until limp. Add tomatoes, salsa (for a little extra kick), and kidney beans.

Sprinkle half a package of dry taco mix over the mixture. Add enough water to make a thick mixture. Cook  until it blends together and starts to bubble.

Brush one side of 6 tortillas with margarine and warm briefly in the oven to soften. Spoon a small amount of the taco mixture on the bottom of a large oven proof pan. Arrange 5 of the tortillas around the edge and use one to cover the center. Make sure there's enough moisture under the tortillas, especially if you are using the corn variety. They can bake up hard if you don't.

Sprinkle half of the grated cheese over the tortillas. Fill the pie pan with the prepared mixture.

Brush one side of 2 tortillas with margarine and cut them into strips. These will brown and get crispy on the top. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees then sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top. Return to the over for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Top with sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. There you have it. It's a taco, it's a pie, it's Taco Pie (Margy Style). -- Margy

Friday, April 18, 2014

Storm's Coming

After three glorious days of warm sunshine,

a storm's coming ...

but not quite yet. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Westview North Harbour

Dredging and float replacement in 2011.
Powell River, British Columbia, has two city harbours. The South Harbour is for working and visiting boats. The North Harbour is for long-term moorage.  Because we leave our chuck (ocean) boat in the water ready to go, we have a slip in the North Harbour.

Ready for opening day in 2011.
We've had four boats in the North Harbour. It started with a 17' Hourston we "retired" from lake duty, followed by Halcyon Days, our first coastal cruiser. We were stricken with "two-foot-itis" and leaped into Foghorn,  a Bayliner 3058, only to discover that we preferred a smaller boat after all.

We've been fortunate to find new owners for all of our former boats. Now we have settled into a smaller coastal cruiser, a Bayliner 2452. It 's big enough to not feel cramped, but small enough to easily maneuver and anchor.

We just brought her up to Powell River from her former home in Bellingham's Squalicum Harbor.

In 2011, Powell River completed a major renovation to both the South and North Harbours. Dave is the wharfinger and helps everyone get the most out of their stay.  Come visit us if you are cruising through the Strait of Georgia towards Desolation Sound. Powell River has lots of space for visitors, and there are plenty of nearby restaurants, shops and stores to meet your every need.  Don't have a boat? Come on down for a dock walk, or take a stroll on the nearby seawalk. Here's a nice video by mtcheam. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TV Times

TV stand as designed by Ed.
Wayne and I have chosen not to use satellite service for television or Internet at the cabin, but we do enjoy movies or a TV series in the evenings. We've been using Wayne's Macbook, but the screen is so small.

Sometimes we are slow on the uptake. We decided to check out small TVs. To our surprise, we found a 24" model that uses only 30 watts. Hooked to the laptop

As built by John with removable feet.
There's no permanent place for the TV near our sofa. We started with a TV tray, but John came up with a better idea with a little help from his dad Ed (such a funny guy). John took the set home to do his woodwork magic.

When we watch TV, we put the stand in front of the sofa. The removable feet give the narrow base better balance.

The stand has hooks to store our headphones. They make listening easier, especially on nights when the rain is pounding on the tin roof. The bottom has a box for storing the feet.

John permanently mounted the TV to the top of the stand for easy storage. There is a 7 3/4 inch space between the stairs and the wall.

When the feet are removed, the stand slides right behind. Later, I plan to sew a cover to protect the TV when it's in storage mode. John's talents never cease to amaze me. -- Margy

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Morning Glow

I don't often get up early enough for sunrise, but on a recent morning I was rewarded for my efforts.

The wind was absolutely calm, reflecting the rays of sunlight passing through a thin layer of clouds, breaking them into the colours of the spectrum. Ice crystals in the high clouds act like prisms to refract the sunlight, causing the rainbow-like display.

Two logs, tied to the cabin deck for future firewood, framed the solar reflection nicely. -- Margy

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Margy's Mouse Motel

Spring is here and it's bringing out our mousie fiends (I mean friends). Wayne and I don't like to kill our animal neighbors, even mice. So we've decided on a catch and release program as ridiculous as it may sound.

Earlier I shared about using a Havahart live trap to capture and relocate mice. It works fine, but at one or two mice a night (we have two traps), it can take a long time to get rid of them.

I came up with the idea for Margy's Mouse Motel and Wayne put it into action. We used a large kindling storage barrel. Wayne put in dishes for water and two tins of food. To give them a culinary choice, one tin had bird seed and the other had cat food. Two old socks for beds, and the motel was ready for occupancy.

Ernie and Elvis were our first guests. Looks like they approve of the accommodations. Once our they were settled, we put a board over the top, leaving a small hole for air conditioning. Plus, this prevented our guests from checking out before paying their bills.  After Mary and Martha joined them the next evening, all four guests were given a complementary boat ride to Goat Island. Hopefully they'll enjoy the natural surroundings and never want to check back into Margy's Mouse Motel. -- Margy

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Remodeling: Pine Paneling

It's finally done. When we got home last Thursday night, John had completed everything. It was so great to come home to a really clean home. John even used my teeny tiny Shark vacuum (it may be tiny but draws 1000 watts and requires a generator to operate) to suck up every stray particle of dust and wood shavings.

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided on pine paneling to cover our old water stained paper-covered particle board. Now instead of fake wood, I have the real deal.

We used pine paneling to cover the three main walls of the great room, our main living area and kitchen. John installed the new tongue and groove paneling strips over our existing wall covering for several reasons. One, it was easier to do. Two, it was much less messy than tearing out the old paneling. And three is the charm, it gave is more insulation to hold in heat during the winter.

John was extremely careful to cut each piece to fit against window and door frames. Junctions at corners were covered with moulding, and he hand made several to cover trouble spots.

I spray water when I use the sink's hand pump to draw water up from the lake. We found a small piece of maroon Arborite (formica) for a backsplash. John and I were lucky to get a bargain leftover in Rona's cutting area.

Spring is a great time for cleaning. This year I got so much more, a clean and new main living area and bedroom. Thanks John for all your hard work. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Spring Remodeling: Loft Bedroom

In addition to downstairs, John worked in our loft bedroom. I've always thought cabins with pine paneling look so homey.

When we went shopping (yes, John let me go with him), I didn't like the cottage grade. There were so many knots, breaks, and blemishes. I opted to pay more for the next higher grade, and I'm so glad I did. It has just enough variation to make it interesting.

The 8-foot tongue and groove strips made installation relatively simple (that's easy for me to say). John cut each strip perfectly, and used a nail gun followed by wood filler to hide the evidence. He applied two coats of clear Varathane to seal it against any future water leaks. It also brought out the wood grain and gave it a nice luster.

It's important to be weight conscious living in a float cabin. The lightness of the pine boards made it a good choice.

I originally wanted a vertical installation, but John convinced me otherwise.  One, it made my wood frame cabin look more like a log cabin (at least on the inside). Two, it could be installed over our existing paper-coated paneling, giving us more insulation and less construction mess.  Thanks John, you helped me make the right decision as usual. -- Margy

Monday, April 07, 2014

Spring Remodeling: Painting

Old stained paper-covered wall paneling.
Yesterday you read about our new ceiling panels. The next step in our spring remodeling project was to tackle the interior paper coated paneling of the kitchen and great room.

The paneling was stained near windows, doors, and the woodstove chimney. To match the new white ceiling panels, and to keep bright, we used white semi-gloss paint on the upper portion of the front wall.

Semi-gloss paint over paneling to refresh the front cabin wall.
First John removed the thin vertical decorative cedar strips. Then he put on three layers, primer and two coats of paint. The semi-gloss should make wiping off water stains easier. While he was at it, John repainted the window sills and door frames. When he put the decorative strips back up, he used wider spruce ones. We left the upper window frame and beams natural. I like the way the exposed wood breaks up the large white expanse. And, have you ever seen a cleaner storage loft? Getting that was worth a lot. Thanks John! -- Margy

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Spring Remodeling: Ceiling Insulation

Stained ceiling insulation panels.
Spring is a time for renewal. It's also a time we take trips to warm places like Arizona. During our absence, our good friend John has been working hard back at the cabin with several spring remodeling projects.

When we became Canadian Permanent Residents in 2008, we briefly thought about building a larger cabin. But we love our place, it just needed a few modifications. We added a bathroom, a covered side porch, a new colour for exterior paint, kitchen appliances, and John made custom furniture to maximize space.

New ceiling hard plastic insulation.
This spring I mentioned the possibility of some remodeling. Wayne didn't seen too enthusiastic, but to my surprise asked me to tell John about it.

Over the 16-year life of our cabin (time flies), the ceiling insulation panels became stained from woodstove condensation. When John built our cabin, his first priority was minimal weight. Extra weight pushes the cedar log float down, causing them to waterlog.

Plastic will not absorb moisture, clean easily.
John decided to install new twin-walled plastic panels over the existing Styrofoam, a messy and hard job. Each panel had to be cut to specification, and working over your head is never easy. Plus, dust in our storage loft was a huge mess. It all had to come down to give John access to the full length of the ceiling.

New ceiling panel installation complete.
This time, John extended the insulation all the way to the peak. That should give us extra heat-keeping properties in winter. And, the rigid plastic surface will be easier to clean. To hold the panels in place, John added pine strips to the open beams. These will match my new pine paneling, to come in a later step. Doesn't it look great? -- Margy

Friday, April 04, 2014

Planting Marigolds with Saved Seeds.

Last fall I let the last of my Marigold flowers go to seed on the plants.  Once they were brown and withered, I pinched the dried seed heads off and left them on a cookie sheet to dry out completely.

I stored them in a saved blueberry container.

Last week after I worked up my soil, I pushed the seed heads into the soil to see if they would sprout.

I tried it last summer to fill in a few empty spots and was pleased with the results. Hopefully it will turn out as well this spring.

But if Bill C-18 passes here in Canada, our rights to save and plant seeds might be hindered. For more information, head on over to Susan's blog As Long As You Have a Garden for more information. -- Margy