Saturday, July 26, 2014

What a Great, Full Week

This has been a great and a full week... and so this blog is my grateful list.  Here are some of the things that I am grateful for... not in order of importance... but as the week progressed.

I am grateful to have a saw that can cut rock, concrete, etc.  I bought it to cut adobes when building the orphanage.  But when I couldn't move these two rocks with my tractor I decided I would cut the tops of them off at ground level and cover them with earth and gravel.

I make a number of parallel cuts that enable me to break off the rock in strips. The water helps to make the diamond blade last longer...

The parallel slices can now be broken out with a hammer and chisel.

I almost got done, but I knew the minute the diamond blade was worn out... I had to stop. I still want to take off another layer after finishing the current layer. It's like making bricks.

I realized that if I did this carefully, always cutting the same depth, I could break out the pieces so they could be used in rock facing on our house.  I am always grateful when I can do one job that has spin-off benefit to another job.  This is why I was careful to try to make all the cuts parallel and the same distance apart and the same depth.

I am grateful to live in a ferry land... on a small island away from the rat race.  I took this shot as the sun was setting on our way home from Victoria... from one level above the car deck on the ferry. I was grateful to find a new diamond blade for my saw in town.

I like the quote, "One thing wrong with being an atheist is seeing a beautiful sunset and not knowing who to thank."

I am grateful to have this wonderful storage file for all the artistic projects we are planning to do.  It was a trick to take it all apart and move it up from our "tin shack" storage building.

I am grateful to be back doing watercolours again.  I am not finished reading the book, "The One Thing," but both Shirley and I have been looking forward to using our new studio to pursue our One Thing... artistic endeavours.

So we are committing to spend at least two hours a day putting paint onto paper or sketching or something creative.  This is Sidney Spit with the Lagoon and Sidney Island to the right.  Eagle Island is the little island in the centre of the lagoon.

I tried a fun thing here.  First I painted the letters, "the Lagoon" in white acrylic, before doing any watercolour.  Then when I painted the blue water it took the colour differently than the acrylic painted letters.

To see more  about our art projects, and home improvement  projects, check out Shirley's blog today... for her perspective.

This is inside our "tin shack" now. A month ago you could not see the far end from the front door.  O how I wish we would have taken a picture of the mess. There was barely an isle to get to the other end. There were boxes and junk almost to the ceiling. I am grateful for the best wife in the whole world who knows how to handle this type of project and she focused on getting rid of a lot of junk.  That nice 10-drawer file cabinet was in the middle of this room and it took a lot of work to even get close so we could move it out.

Once all the junk was gone I made a simple desk using a 2-drawer filling cabinet to hold up one end of the desk top... and I made a simple plywood end leg for the other end.  The stack of boxes on the floor were just brought in so I can go thru filing cabinets and transfer out the stuff that will go to recycle.

Thank you Shirley for doing such a great job here!

I am grateful to have both the toilet and sink working now in our studio.  I got the right length supply lines this week in town to connect the water to the basin taps.  It is nice to have water handy when you are doing watercolour painting.  Now I have to get the right finish to fit the valve we used for the shower rough in.

I am grateful to have been able to power wash off the cottage roof this week... and not break a leg, or anything else.  I put a rope between the end gables along the ridge, with enough slack so I could hang on and walk down part way with the power washing wand.  I fell a couple of times, but hung on and got up to finish the job. It was slippery up there!

I am grateful to have a sweetheart who is a nester.  She knows how to make a house a home... and has a real good eye for how to make things beautiful.

While I was busy doing the power washing on the cottage roof, unknown to me Shirley was busy re-arranging the living room furniture.  This has happened to me many times before. I came in that evening and thought I was in the wrong house.  We have been eating a lot of meals in the living room while watching Knowledge Network Great Canadian Parks programs on the PVR.  I thought Shirley was joking when she said maybe we should set the dining room table in front of the big screen TV.

How could I not be softened to the idea when she lights a candle for our first meal at the dining room table in front of the TV? I am truly grateful to have a sweetheart with good taste in design.  She  knows how to make every detail work together.

This is the back section of the garage/workshop... where I do lapidary... cutting and polishing rocks.  This space was also wall to wall stacked with too much junk.  I am so grateful that Shirley takes the bull by the teeth and just empties the space.  We had the two table tops that came out of the Bistro in Acorn Plaza... I attached a 4' x 4" post for a leg and attached them to the wall.  Again we took another truck of paper and cardboard to recycle on our island.  I think they have our number... two truck loads in two weeks!

I got busy cleaning out the eaves troughs this week... and these higher ones were a little tricky.  Again I have a rope off the top of the roof to hang onto... but the pail gets full so fast.

I am so grateful for my little John Deere tractor to hold a plank with cleats so I can safely walk up the roof. I am always grateful to get these nasty maintenance jobs done without any mishaps.

Our garage looks great inside... but the carport is now full of stuff that has to either go back inside on to shelves or to the landfill or to recycle.  Most of the boards will be painted white and trim the windows and corners on redoing siding on the south side or our house.  I am grateful that one more day will likely see this phase of clean up completed.

This morning as I was walking around the loop driveway I heard this loud pecking noise.  I walked more slowly and soon could see where the noise was coming from.  We are grateful to have a couple of pairs of Pileated Woodpeckers making themselves at home here. Shirley thinks we can charge them rent.  Good luck with that one, Shirley!  I am grateful for my Samsung Note 3 that has an incredible zoom lens on the phone... pretty cool for a phone camera, eh?

But the best news relates to my diabetes score.  I did my quarterly blood test this week in Victoria, and had an appointment on Friday to see the doctor here on Mayne to find our my results.  I have a kit to take my blood score before and after meals... but I also have a standing order to get a professional lab blood score done every three months.

When I did my first blood test mid-April and the doctor saw it was 9.2 she threw the book at me and said, "I'm not going to tolerate this any more."  She scheduled me to go to Diabetes School... and get a blood testing kit.  I didn't know our island doctor was on holiday... but her substitute doctor was quick to realize the situation when she saw the latest blood score... which was 6.4.  Wow! She said she has never seen such a great improvement in just three months... so since she looked so young I asked her if she was thru going to school?  She said she has been in private practice for seven years. Asian women don't show their age... or does everyone just look so young to me?

Thank you Lord for a good blood score!  My target is to get my blood score under 6... and I was pleasantly surprised at the difference the changes we have made worked so fast. Most of the credit I give to Shirley, who is more than my private cook.

I am grateful for Shirley who has gone the second mile to prepare food that is healthy and tasty... and she has been eating the same menu that I eat. Thank you Shirley.  You are the best!

Please take three minutes to watch this super cute animated poem, written by Shelb Silverstein... about Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout... and don't forget to take the garbage out!

Kind of fitting since we have been doing a lot of this type of thing lately.

Which leads me to my last grateful thing... Our Mayne Island Recycling Depot.  They provide a great service to our island... and a lot of volunteers help to make it all happen.  Thank you to each of you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sidney Spit

Come with me today on another one of "My Top Ten Most Enjoyable Hikes.." to the Spit on Sidney Island... which is part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada.

Ever since we learned about Sidney Spit we have been waiting for a perfect day to make the trip to this little island to explore and spend a day hiking around.

As we left the dock at the end of Beacon Ave in Sidney it didn't seem like it would take very long to get to Sidney Island... it's only about 5 km. which is 3 miles... but our skipper told us it would take 20 minutes.

The Sidney Spit Ferry can carry about 35 passengers.  We are now about halfway between the Spit and the dock in downtown Sidney where we departed.

What a day. Not a cloud in the sky! Wikipedia told us the highest point on this island was 252 feet... but we didn't find any place that high on our hiking around.

Originally named Sallas Island, in 1859 the Hudson Bay Company changed it to Sidney Island. In 1902 George L. Courtenay bought the island for $25,000 with plans to host hunting parties.  He stocked the island with pheasants from China and fallow deer from Europe.

He also established the Sidney Island Tile and Brick Company on the north end of the island.  It was here they discovered a good source of clay that made good bricks. The depression in the centre of the photo was the site of the later clay pit... # 2 on the plan below.

The company employed up to 70 men and produced 55,000 bricks a year. This site plan shows the activity and buildings... with numbers 1 and 2 being the early and later clay pits.

This was the source of the bricks used to build the Empress Hotel, Hotel Vancouver and the CPR Depot. Some of the ruins of the factory can be found near the campground.  Bricks sold for $8. per thousand, including delivery... which sounds very reasonable to me.

In 1925 the Province of BC received title to the land by foreclosure on the brick company to collect unpaid taxes.  The Todd family began buying land on Sidney Island between 1924 - 1968, until they owned 90% of the island.  During World War II the island was reserved for military purposes.

Sidney Marine Park was established July 1961... and 107 hectares were purchased and added to the Park.  The total area of the park is 177 hectares (437 acres.).  The rest of the island was developed by Sallish Forest Products into 111 bare land strata lots on 288 hectares... with 1500 hectares of common property.

The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is the 40th of 43 National Parks in Canada... and Sidney Spit is just one of the more than 30 Gulf Islands locations. Other parks are located on Saturna, the Penders, Mayne, Galiano, etc... to check them out click on this link.  Each location has its own unique qualities, but there is only one with a spit this long.

This great photo was taken from the air when the tide was out... we had a picnic at the very end of the spit at low tide.

It looks totally different when the tide is up.  We were warned to not get caught out at the end of the spit when the tide was rising... as you will get wet coming back!

There were lots of boats moored near the spit... 21 buoys are available here.

I was the first off the ferry so I could catch photos of the people coming off... Shirley was right behind me.

This government dock is where we arrived... and it was our good fortune to come in when the tide was out.

You can see by the steepness of the ramp that the tide is out... lots of room for the wharf to rise as the tide comes back in.

Some of our group that arrived with us are quickly making their way out to the spit.  We wanted to do the hike to the end of the spit and back before the tide came back in.

But we were busy taking pictures along the way.  I was fascinated by the way this algae gets caught when the tide goes out... and drys like a bed sheet draped over the rocks.  Interesting, eh?

What is with all these short posts?

Apparently a row of posts was installed in the centre of the spit in the 1960's thinking it would help to encourage the sand to accumulate on the spit.  At least it deterred boaters from taking a short-cut in high tide.

Wet sand, dry sand, small rocks.

We saw the ferry from Anacortes come on the way to Sidney... and then again on it's return.

Lots of driftwood collects in the middle of the spit.

There are people who harvest kelp and sell it as a health food.  They say it contains all the nutrients your body needs. But I have lived this long without it... so my body doesn't know what it is missing... and it is not going to find out any time soon.

No end of sea gulls...

For sure the sea gulls have enjoyed the endless hours of sitting on these posts.

This proud gull posed for me with Mt. Baker in the background... not knowing he would get posted on my blog.

We were starting to look for a picnic spot as we approached the end of the spit...

Maybe someone else built a picnic table here... but the tide has a way of changing the layout.

There is lots of driftwood around... so we picked out a couple of logs near the beacon light and spread out our picnic.  It was delightful! What a great place for a picnic.

It was fun to watch the boats passing by... with Mt Baker in the distance.

The sunshine lights up this beacon...  works totally off a solar panel.

You will see the native Dune Grass in many of the photos at Sidney Spit.  This grass helps to stabilize the dunes and hold the sand from blowing away.

I love how the Dune Grass and the darker vegetation behind give a natural contrast.  Good design is seldom an accident... done by an excellent Landscape Architect.

Very near to the point of the spit this young man was getting started on building a sand castle.

We did not see a lot of colourful flowers blooming on the Spit on this visit...

...except for this Yellow Sand-verbena which was asking me to take a few pictures of it.  It looks like a succulent. So far the deer have not eaten it... but we have learned the hard way that when the deer get hungry they will eat almost anything.

The Yellow Sand-verbena is on the species at risk list. It provides critical habitat for the endangered Sand-verbena Moth, for which it is the only known host plant for egg deposition.  The larva feed on the leaves and flowers throughout the summer and adults feed on the flower nectar.

It was fun to see how close I could get to this blue heron...

Oooops!  I got a little too close.  So he decided to show me his six foot wingspan.

What a gorgeous bird... and they apparently nest here on Sidney Island.

It didn't seem as far coming back as it was going out.

Shirley saw a couple walk past these canoes and leave a bag of treasures... they probably came over from near Sidney, which would be a good paddle over and back in a day.

There were several places where we saw lots of shells.

Some a little chipped and broken...

Some in absolutely pristine condition... like this Nuttall's Cockle Shirley asked me to shoot for her.

I was quite amazed to stumble upon this group of clams... busy at work with their siphons extended.

I've never seen any this big before.

The water around around the spit was fairly shallow, with some sand  bars... and these boys are enjoying playing around in the water.

There are several good walking trails here and we took a stroll down towards the campground.

This Canada Goose was by herself basking in the sunshine.

We saw several campers set up and enjoying the day.  There are 26 campsites.

What a great viewing platform/jetty going out into the lagoon... with a telescope for bird watching.

Looking back off the jetty we see some campsites and a gazebo for group dining or hanging out.

This Purple Martin Quartet was giving us some 'special music' as we approached for a closer look.

It sounded to me like a love song.

There was lots of activity as these Martins fly around and come back to their homestead.

From the viewing jetty we are looking at Eagle Island in the lagoon... where a lot of birds find privacy for nesting.

I just finished this watercolour painting of the Lagoon.  You can see Eagle Island inside the lagoon.

As we were about to head back to the town of Sidney we took a few shots of the Spit from this bluff.

You can see how high the water has come up since we walked out to the point... and I think it may still come up a little more.  The couple coming back are just barely getting back on dry land.

What a delightful day!

"Take nothing but pictures.  Leave nothing but footprints."

"In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir