Thursday, April 30, 2020

#ThrowbackThursday: Float Cabin Tour - Welcome Aboard

In 2001, Wayne and I discovered our float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal BC.  In the beginning, we could only be here on school holidays since we were both educators. Retired we can be in our off-the-grid cabin home about 75% of the year in all seasons.

Logging Camp Photo: Powell River Museum
During the heydey of logging along the BC coast, floating cabins and shops were common. They were used for remote camps to provide homes and work platforms up rugged inlets and on large lakes. Today, float cabins are used on fish farms and for off the grid living.

Float Cabin Photo: Powell River Museum
On Powell Lake, the original float cabins were simple homes, economical getaways for mill workers, or logging camps dating back to the early 1900s.

Currently, there are about 250 float cabins on Powell Lake. They're spread along the 480 kilometres (300 miles) of shoreline. That makes most locations private.

Why did we choose this lifestyle?
  • It's unique.
  • Float cabins are a part of coastal history.
  • We wanted a place to retire that was different from our city life.
  • It's remote and uncrowded.
  • We are surrounded by nature.
  • We get to enjoy the seasons.
  • We are off the grid.
  • We can live a simple, tiny home lifestyle.
  • We like boating to our water access only home.
  • Town is only 25 minutes away for resupply.
  • There's a distributed community for support and friendship.
  • It was love at first sight.
Several years ago I created short video tours of our float cabin home. Here's the first in the series called "Welcome Aboard."

Since this video was made, we no longer have a stairway up the cliff and the shed on shore has been removed to comply with British Columbia water lease rules.

If you would like more information about float cabin living, here are some quick links:
Float Cabin Living
Float Cabin Construction
Cabin Accessories
Also check out Wayne's book Up the Lake. It's free for Kindle in most countries and most online booksellers. See the next post for more information.

Have you ever discovered a place that has captured your imagination and heart? Tell us your story. - Margy

Thursday, April 23, 2020

#ThrowbackThursday: Spring Birds

This week while Wayne and I are sheltering in place in Bellingham, Washington, I'm sharing some of the birds that I would normally be welcoming to our float cabin home on Powell Lake in Coastal BC. I may not be there this spring, but I'm sure they are.

Follow the links below to learn more about each one.

One of the first to arrive in spring is the American Robin. The weather may still be cold, rainy and cloudy, but they foretell the longer days, warmer weather and blooming flowers to come.

An American Robin sitting on driftwood at the float cabin.

One of the most unusual birds that comes to visit our float cabin is the Great Blue Heron. They are frequently seen in town, especially at the marina, but each year one will come for an extended visit to our log boom to fish. They have such a distinctive prehistoric cry.

A Great Blue Heron visits our log boom to fish for his dinner.

Once we had an unwelcome spring visitor, an American Flicker. It wasn't the American part that made her unwelcome. It was her desire to drill a hole in our wall to build a nest. We chased her away, blocked the hole she started under the eaves and put up "scary" things to deter her return. It worked, but we still have a spot as a reminder.

An American Flicker tried to nest in our cabin wall.

It wouldn't be Canada without Canada Geese. They come to Hole in the Wall where there are shallow beaches to raise their families. Later they bring their goslings by the cabin and try to sneak vegetables from my float garden.

Geese pair for life and arrive in early spring to prepare for nesting.

In 2010, Red Throated Loons arrived at Hole in the Wall. They took over territory from the Common Loons that previously came to visit. They are beautiful birds and when they come into our "front yard" you can hear them coo lovingly to each other. Here a short video.

Towards the end of spring, the Barn Swallows arrive. One pair usually builds a nest under the eaves over our front porch. In the beginning, nests would fall from the narrow ledge. Wayne and I stepped in to install a platform and added a padded cushion below in case any babies fell from their lofty perch.

Mother Barn Swallow sitting on her eggs under the eaves.

I will miss welcoming these annual visitors back home. Hopefully, they'll still be there to welcome me back by early summer at the latest.

Which birds do you like to welcome back each spring to your home? -- Margy

Thursday, April 16, 2020

#ThrowbackThursday: Spring Gardening

Our float cabin on Powell Lake, BC.
Wayne and I aren't at our float cabin right now due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We've decided to shelter in place in Bellingham, Washington. We are safe, but I dream about my favourite place on earth. So I've decided to share some memorable times with you on #ThrowbackThursdays.

My original "garden."
On shore we have cliffs and forest. In addition, critters love to devour tender shoots. I've always liked to grow vegetables, so I had to think of a new way while living in a floating environment.

At first I had a "garden log." I added herbs and lettuce in the log's notches. The sprouts were doing fine, but one day when we returned from town everything was gone. The culprits were Canada Geese. I guess they love fresh vegetables too.

My float garden in Spring 2007.
In 2002, our good friend John built a float with four raised beds and a central walkway. He added netting and Mr. Owl to protect new sprouts from birds. When not in use, the float is pulled out to the log boom for protection. For easy watering, I have a solar powered bilge pump and hose. The perfect solution.

Here are some memorable gardening pictures from the past. You can also explore the Gardening category on this blog.

Bumblebees in my daffodils on a cold 2008 spring morning.

One bumblebee still sleeping and one that has crawled out to warm in the sun.

Bunny has been refreshed twice over the years in 2010 and 2014.

Wayne gave me Bunny on Easter 2002, the first year of my float garden.

My garden was highlighted on CBC Radio's North by Northwest in 2013

Willow Yamauchi, originally from Lund, come to do our interview for CBC.

It was also selected for the 2018 Powell River Library Calendar.

My float garden was "Miss January" in the Powell River Library 2018 Calendar.

The raised beds and walkway needed replacing in summer 2019.

New cedar boards outside and in.

This picture became Up the Lake's book cover and our company logo.

Blue sky, spring showers, a double rainbow and my garden up the lake.

Do you have any stories about gardening? Do you have any hints for gardening in unique situations? Let us hear from you. -- Margy

Want to know more about off-the-grid living? Take a look at Wayne's books Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake. Both are in print and ebook formats at online booksellers. If you have a Kindle or the Kindle app, Up the Lake is free in most countries.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Doing Our Part: Staying Safe in Bellingham, WA

A reverse selfie with my new face mask.
If you're a regular visitor to this blog, you may wonder why we aren't posting very often.

Like many Canadians, we were caught away from home while Snowbirding in warmer locales. Starting north we ran into the COVID-19 pandemic.

A city-folk condo with a natural "backyard."
We are isolating in our part-time condo in Bellingham. Border and BC Ferries restrictions make returning home to Powell River difficult.  Wayne and I are healthy, but we don't want to bring anything to our small town with limited medical resources.

When Mom passed, we kept her U.S. condo. Having her sewing machine, ironing board and sewing supplies helped me make face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

I picked Billettes Baubles Eco Alternatives's video to follow and one about washing them.

Mom here in her Bellingham condo in 2008.
As children, both my mom and dad survived the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Los Angeles. This account by the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine has parallels to our current Pandemic.

Strong mitigation including bans on gatherings, and school and business closures resulted in a lower death rate in Los Angeles than similar cities. And there was controversy about face masks.

To make our face masks, I first laundered the fabric. I cut two 7x9" rectangles from the sheet and one 5X7" of T-shirt knit. The knit took more ironing to keep it flat. The video called for flannel, but I didn't have any and I trimmed wide elastic narrower for my two 7" ear loops. 

1. Cut 7" sheet strip. 2. Then cut 7X9" rectangles. 3-4. Cut 5X7" T-shirt rectangle.

Here are the steps I used to assemble the mask. Watch the video to see it even better.

Stitch a smaller piece in the middle.
  • Pin and sew the 5X7" knit piece in the middle of one7X9" cotton cloth piece. I made my knit piece 5" wide to cover a larger portion of my face.
  • Pin and sew the two 7x9" pieces together leaving an inch and a half opening at the top. Make sure the front sides (if your fabric has a print pattern) are facing each other and the extra stitched on center piece is facing outwards. 
Turn it right side out through the hole.
  • Double stitch one end of elastic in each corner between the two pieces of fabric. Watch the video. It's easier to see than describe. The two elastic strips will create the loops that go behind your ears to keep the mask in place.
    • Trim the corners. Use the hole you left open at the top to turn the mask right side out. Iron the seams flat. Double stitch around the sides of the mask to close the hole and secure the edges.
    Make two horizontal pleats.
    • Create two horizontal pleats and pin in place. These pleats will allow the mask to shape around your nose and chin.
      • Double stitch along the sides of the mask to hold the pleats firmly together.
      • Your mask is ready to wear.

      Stitching the sides to hold the pleats in place.

      This type of mask will not protect you from the coronavirus. They can penetrate even three layers of cloth. However, a mask like this can help reduce spreading the virus if you are infected but asymptomatic. Wearing a face mask cannot replace social distancing. Stay home. If you must go out, always stay at least six feet (two metres) away from others.

      Are you wearing and/or making face masks? What about the people in your community?

      p.s. After I wrote this post (and made my masks) I read an article about preferred fabrics for homemade masks. It said that T-shirt material was less desirable because holes in knits are larger than woven flannel and cotton cloth. If you have these materials available, I would recommend using them instead. Also, this style of mask made with a soft fabric rides close to your nose, making it hard to breathe while walking or exercising. -- Margy