Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tech Talk

Everyone (well almost) is addicted to technology these days. It's a part of our lives whether we want it or not. Going "off the grid" has come to mean not using your handheld for 24-hours rather than living without a connection to the electrical grid. Even Stick Tail has an iPawd.

Wayne and I were talking this morning about the impact technology has on the quality of life. Laura Newcomer wrote an article that sums up many of our feelings. Our choice of living off the grid (technologically and electrically) makes sense for us. We can have a home embedded in nature where we can enjoy our surroundings and each other.

We have a old flip phone with an external antenna on the roof. No 3G, let alone 4G. That means no Internet (and all the time it consumes). Yes, we could get television, phone, and Internet via satellite, but that isn't something we want in our float cabin lives. We get enough of that when we make our trips to town.

I'm not saying we don't have technology resources at our cabin:
  • Radio (for CBC and local SUN.FM)
  • Satellite radio (Wayne starts the day with CNBC)
  • Cell phone (our old Telus flip phone)
  • Laptops (for writing and movies)
  • Kindles (new titles downloaded in town)
  • iPad (my and Stick Tail's game station)
  • iPod (for individual listening)
For now, it's a perfect compromise. And all of our devices can be recharged using our "off the grid" solar system.

I do have a smartphone for town. Because it isn't a part of my everyday life, I'm not addicted to its many features. I hate seeing so many people in public focusing on their devices rather than the people in their lives, or the experiences available around them. What are your thoughts? -- Margy

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Foggy Views

We've had fog every day for over a week. When it was high, it lasted all day and night.


 When it was down at water level, it burned off each afternoon to give us a sunny and starlight respite.


Give me low fog any day! -- Margy

Friday, October 25, 2013

Coastal BC Plants: Powell Lake Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage

Right in front of our cabin, Goat Island has a superb display of maples turning yellow and orange. The swath of glorious colour paints up the hillsides through stream carved gullies and across expose rocky slopes.



Have you ever wondered how this colourful display occurs?



Fall days are noticeably shorter and trees start getting ready for winter. The presence of chlorophyll, and its green color, begins to diminish. This allows the yellow and orange colours to become more dominant. -- Margy

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dumping Logs

We just took a ride to the head of Powell Lake in our new boat.  Here she is next to one of the crew boats at the logging dock. She looks like she really belongs with the working guys.  At home in our cabin, we can hear the crew boats heading up the lake at about 6:30 am. Then around 5:00 pm, we see them heading back home.

We found five boats up at the head of the lake. It was close to quitting time, but after we arrived, we saw four logging trucks dump their loads into the log pond. We passed the tug hauling a boom of logs to the south end of the lake.  He left the head at about 2:00 pm and didn't pass our cabin until 9:30 am the next morning, and he still had another 10 miles to go. That's one long run!

Have you ever seen a log dump? Here's a short video.



Those bundles sure make a huge splash! -- Margy

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Canning: Garlic and Chili Pickled Green Beans

I have to be honest. I'm not expert at canning. I've made jams, preserved berries, and a few pickles. I found this recipe in a magazine, but altered it to make a single pint of refrigerator pickles, just enough for Wayne and I to enjoy as a special treat.

Refrigerator Garlic and Chili 
Pickled Green Beans
Yields one pint

3/4 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup water
1 and 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/3 tablespoon sugar
1 large clove garlic
1 dried hot chili pepper
Sprinkle of dried dill
About 1/2 pound green beans

Heat water in a canner or tall pot to boiling. Sterilize canning jar, ring and seal.

Heat vinegar, water, salt, and sugar together until boiling.

Put a clove of garlic, chili pepper, and a sprinkle of dill in the bottom of a sterilized one-pint canning jar. Wash, trim, and pack raw green beans tightly into the jar leaving a 3/4" space open below the rim.

Pour the hot liquid over the beans leaving 1/2” headspace at the top. Put on canning lid and tighten ring firmly.

Process the jar for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Keep the jar off the bottom of the pot, and make sure the boiling water covers the top. Remove carefully and let cool. Store in the fridge for at least one week to allow the flavours to blend.

Once opened, the jar will keep for one month in the fridge if the hot and tangy Garlic and Chili Pickled Green Beans last that long.

If you prefer to pickle a large batch, just make sure all safe canning processes are followed. -- Margy

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Up the Lake" in the News

Every once in a while, the story about how Wayne and I came to live in a float cabin on Powell Lake hits the press.  Not long ago, I was approached by a good friend here in Powell River. Barb Rees is a local author. In addition to her books, she also writes articles for magazine. Here's one she recently submitted to Senior Living Magazine: From LA to Up the Lake.

Thanks Barb. It was fun to work with you on this project.

Barb and her husband Dave just got home from another across-Canada trip. She's already written several books about previous RV adventures. Check them out:

RV Canada on a Dime and a Dream
RV Canada with Boo the Menopausal Van
RV Canada's Far North on a Dream
RV Canada and the Polar Bear Dream

I know a new book is already in the works. Watch her website for updates. - Margy

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teapot Treasure

As you know, I love to visit thrift stores. I always go to the Hospital Auxiliary Economy Shop when I'm in town on a weekday, but on Saturdays, the MCC Thrift Store is open. It's operated by the Mennonite Central Committee and profits are used worldwide to help provide basic human needs such as water, food, shelter, education, and health care. It's a good addition to our thrift store options in town.

I always carry a list of items I need at the cabin and watch the thrift store shelves. For the last month, I've had "teapot" on my list. The evenings are cooler and I enjoy a cup of camomile tea before going to bed. I have a coffee pot and two additional pots I use to boil water for drinking and cooking, but I hate to tie up one of those for my evening tea.

I wasn't picky about what could work as a teapot, but last week I found the perfect one at the MCC Thrift Store. It only cost 50 cents, and a bit of Comet made it looking like new inside and out. Whether I'm using the propane range or woodstove heat, it keeps my tea warm and ready to drink throughout the evening.

Have you found any thrift store treasures lately? -- Margy

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Preserving: Saving Green Tomatoes

Some vegetables are in their prime in the fall, especially in northern climes. I planted my tomatoes in June from starts I got at the nursery. They grew throughout the summer and finally had tomatoes setting in August. I was able to pick my first ripe tomatoes in early September, but the majority were still green when it was time to leave for our trip to Arizona at the end of the month.

I did some research and found that green tomatoes can be picked and stored in a cool location to ripen slowly. I figured it was worth a try. I chose only unblemished fruits and left the stem attached. I placed them on a tray in a single layer being careful to keep each one separated from its neighbor. That way, if one went bad it might not affect the others nearby. Temperatures 15 to 22 degrees C (60 to 72 degrees F) are best. Below that, ripening will be delayed. Above that, they might rot. For more suggestions visit:

I returned two weeks later. I was rewarded with tomatoes ranging from still green to perfectly ripe. The ripe ones were just as good as the ones that came off the vine. The rest are continuing to ripen. My experiment was a huge success.

It's a good thing I picked the green tomatoes before I left. When I got home, the plants were wilted from the continual rain, and the remaining small hard tomatoes had been "harvested" by my local woodrat (one big bite each)! You can see the sad looking plants just outside the window. -- Margy

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wild Horses in the Sky

I'm a horse lover from way back. Whoever nicknamed these clouds mare's tails knew both their skies and animals well.

 Can't you just see a wild horse flying through the sky, over the hill, only the tail to be seen? Mare's Tails are high level cirrus clouds made up of ice crystals. High upper winds blow them out into wispy strands. Aren't they beautiful against the bright blue sky? Maybe not for long, these clouds can forecast storms to come. -- Margy

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

M is for Margy

M is for Margy

Starting my cityfolk life.
Wayne and I used to be what he called "cityfolk" in his books. I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. You don't get much more cityfolk than that. When my parents were young, it was a small town. Mom's family were farmers and Dad's ran a corner grocery store. They each were the first in their family to go to college, and both became teachers. Now my small hometown has been swallowed by the big city and there's nothing rural about it.

Daddy's girl hiking in Lassen National Park.
Summer vacations were for camping trips, many up the coast to British Columbia. I learned to love the outdoors and fished alongside my dad. Mom, Dad, and I (a spoiled only child) hiked, went to ranger talks, and learned lots about nature. The seeds for my future life were planted.

Principal of Erwin Elementary School.
I went to college and followed in my parents' footsteps to become an educator. I taught kindergarten like Mom and then became a school administrator like Dad. Those were great years.  I met Wayne, and we found we had lots of common interests. That's been one of the strong points in our marriage. He taught me to fly, and we purchased Piper Arrow 997.

997 in her original paint in Baja California.
We traveled far and wide in 997 to New York, Cancun, James Bay (the tip of Hudson Bay), and the Arctic Ocean. Many years included camping under the wing of our airplane in British Columbia.  On a trip in 2000, we discovered Powell River, BC. We returned in 2001 and discovered Powell Lake and its unique float cabins. That was the moment we started the transition from cityfolk to our new way of life off the grid.

Our float cabin in Hole in the Wall.
After taking an early retirement in 2005, Wayne and I wanted to spend more time in all seasons at our float cabin home. The solution was to become Canadian permanent residents in 2008. Along the way, we had to learn new skills for our new off-the-grid lifestyle. That's where our good friend John comes in. We bought his Cabin #3 at Hole in the Wall, and we lovingly say, "he came with it." John has remained our friend and patient mentor.

Powell River, BC, from the Texada Island ferry.
You never know what life has in store. Wayne and I never want to go back to our cityfolk roots. The slower pace in Powell River fits us. We spent years looking for a place to retire. Like many things in life, the solution found us. Are you looking for a small, safe, forward thinking place to live?

Take a look at Powell River.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment or use the link in my profile to my email address. -- Margy

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Steam Fog

These are terms for fog that forms over water. Over salt water it's called sea smoke, over fresh water it is called steam fog.  It happens when colder air moves over warmer water.  This time of year, you can see steam fog rising from John's back bay and moving out over the lake's surface.

Recently, when we had a sudden thunderstorm with hail, steam fog formed immediately after the deluge stopped.  Even with the hail melting on the lake's surface, the air through which it passed must have cooled even more.



I love living up the lake and close to nature. You see so many interesting things. -- Margy

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Tranquil

On calm days, it can be very tranquil out in First Narrows.


Gentle ripples in the water become mirrors to reflect the sky.


They make a picture better than any artist could create.


Here are the ripples in action. -- Margy

Friday, October 04, 2013

Sky Garden

From up on the cliff on a sunny day, it looks like my garden is floating in the sky rather than on the lake.

I am busy putting it to bed for the winter months.Things I still have to do are:
  • cut down my asparagus ferns and use them to mulch the roots
  • put sand around my strawberry plants to protect the crowns
  • put a plastic row cover over my remaining lettuce
  • cut down my bean and tomato plants for compost
  • save my dead marigold flowers for spring planting
  • make a mini-greenhouse for my geranium roots
Things I will leave in the garden for winter use:
  • curly leaf kale (great in salads and slaws)
  • red-leaf chard (also great in salads or cooked like spinach)
  • carrots (they winter fine in the soil, ready for use)
  • beets (they also winter fine in the soil)
What are you doing with your garden for winter? -- Margy

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Powell River Books Logo

Every company needs a logo. It allows for quick product recognition by customers. When Wayne and I created our company Powell River Books to publish his Coastal BC Stories, we wanted a logo that was meaningful to us and the books he was writing.

We started with one of our favourite pictures from up the lake at our float cabin. That made a lot of sense, because the first book in Wayne's series was Up the Lake.  That's a term you hear a lot around Powell River, especially in the summer.

Wayne is handy with a computer.  He took the colour photo and used Photoshop to create a three colour image.  Voila, our logo was born, right down to my floating garden in the foreground.


Now we use it in all of our online signatures and printed materials.  We even had T-shirts made with our logo on the back to give away are events like Sea Fair and the Blackberry Street Festival.

Do you have a logo for your company? How was it developed? -- Margy

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Everyone Needs a Little Sunshine

You know we love our float cabin home in all seasons, but everyone needs a little sunshine when the clouds and rain roll in. Many Canadians become Snowbirds in the winter months. They head out in RVs or to part-time residences in places like Southern California and Arizona. We wouldn't leave our cabin home for a five or six month stay elsewhere, but a long weekend trip makes a nice sunny interlude.

Last weekend we followed the USC Football Team to Tempe, Arizona, to battle with the Arizona State University Sun Devils. We arrived three days early to get some fun in the sun, and a mega-dose of Mother Nature's Vitamin D.  We took a desert walk at nearby Papago Park with a quick visit to the Desert Botanical Garden. And of course worked on maintaining our Powell Lake summer tans.

We went to a pep rally before the game at Depot Cantina, especially to hear the USC Marching Band. That was quite the place with USC and ASU parties next to each other.  Then it was a short walk to the stadium. This year it was a night game, so we didn't have to bake in the sun. But it was hot on the field, with ASU winning 62 to 41.  Even so, it was a good game. Fight on, Trojans!


We're heading home to some typical fall weather, clouds and rain with a little wind mixed in. We plan to take a few trips like this throughout the winter to keep our spirits bright. But still, there's no place like home! -- Margy