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In and Out

Our lives are distilled to two realms: Inside the cottage or outside to work on projects and go for walks. Its all so simple. No need to keep track of the date, no need to plan days and movements around social events or the numerous groups we each belong to. So we go out whenever weather permits, and when we are tired, cold or wet – back in. Some other things going in and out:

The old sheds and deck went out.
And loads of new lumber came in.
Piles of weeds and other green waste went out…
And a fresh load of clean crush came in to be spread about.
This pine tree, which was getting a bit big for its britches, came out…
And a new deep planter for growing potatoes went in.

It’s almost like we knew. We planned holiday travel for February instead of our usual May, and we blocked rentals on the cottage until late July so we could “enjoy it ourselves.”

And here we are, enjoying it as much as is possible in these unprecedented times. We can go out, work on the property until we are so tired we sleep deeply, and take a walk on the beach when we need to see a bigger piece of the sky. We are so lucky to have this option. Each day it sinks in a little deeper that this is likely to be our principle home this year. So, let the projects begin! Might as well make this time count.

We are rebuilding a shed, revamping the garden, tearing down an old deck, clearing massive amounts of overgrowth and then…well we’ll see. This may be the biggest transformation the place has seen in decades, so better document it here for our records.

A rotting and dangerous deck that predates us must go.
Ditto this shed, to be replaced with a larger and more weatherproof version.
This topsoil isn’t gonna spread itself.
But also making time (like that is hard) for health and wellness.

Hereafter: more pictures for the most part, to record our progress and our errily quiet lives at this most unusual time.

Sidebar, I’m going to learn how to drum via the internet, lose 4 pounds and reconnect with my core muscles.

These projects can’t mask the fact that the news is very distressing and I have to limit my consumption. So many people are in much more difficult circumstances than us, and the means to help are not clear as yet. Except of course, stay home.

Recently, while out walking near Granville Island, we stopped at a coffee bar and Rand bought a giant apricot oat cookie thingy. It was amazingly good! Chewy, flavourful and filling but wholesome tasting, by which, I suppose, I mean not too sweet.

I looked online and found a very similar sounding recipe, which was gluten free and vegan.

While we are increasingly experimenting with meat free menus, I don’t see my love affair with dairy ending anytime soon.

And I definitely can’t be bothered to stock all the specialty ingredients required by this recipe (almond milk, coconut sugar, coconut oil, etc.) or to soak dates and blenderize all this lovely dried fruit.

So today I came up with a simplified version, and they are so good. Excellent right out of the oven for breakfast, and they would be a wonderful addition to a road trip. Had to write my modified version down right away, so I can make them again and again.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup rolled whole oats

1 cup flour, can include some buckwheat or whole meal…

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Half cup or more sliced almonds, rough chopped

1/4 cup finely minced dried apricots plus….

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/4 cup melted margerine

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

Combine oats, flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in brown sugar and coconut.. then almonds, apricots.

Add vanilla to milk, stir into dry ingredients, along with melted butter. Stir to combine. If necessary, add another tablespoon or two of milk to get everything mixed. Use a 1/2 measuring cup to mold into 8 large or ten medium breakfast cookies.

Bake about 10 minutes, at 350F, then check to see if they are browned on the edges.

Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then gobble ’em up.

Fall is a favourite time at the cottage. We put a king duvet on our queen bed to avoid tussling over the covers, then open the window and sleep so well in the cool, fresh air.

We blow leaves around, drink too much coffee, then make a list of projects and jump right on it.

First on the list this year was to somehow reinforce the unmortared stone wall that runs behind the cottage. Over the 10 years we have been here, the combined forces of gravity, roots and wet weather have begun to compromise the wall’s integrity.

The problem wall.

A few stones dislodged, then a few more, and over the last year it really picked up speed. So, time to act! If not, it became clear the whole thing would come down, bit by bit, or maybe kinda fast.

I proposed using chicken wire to create a semi – molded exterior barrier, and short pieces of rebar, pounded into the embankment, to secure it. Rand feared the rebar would further disrupt the stability of the bank.

Instead he built a series of reinforcing walls from treated timber, then screwed them together to make a single wall. This contraption exterts pressure along the vertical surface of the wall, and also downwards, for stability, owing to its mass. We dug it into the ground, a few inches here and there, in the interests of leveling, and then I hand fitted the fallen rocks both into the embankment from where they had fallen, and in strategic areas to add further reinforcement. It looks nice, and when all the wild sweet peas and periwinkle push their way through in the spring, it will look even better. We hope to have forestalled any further damage, and consider this to be, potentially, a 10 year solution. Time will tell.

The finished structure. Off the list!

Total cost was about $300. Rand spent 8 – 10 hours on it, and I about 2. If the doesn’t sound fair, I also made these amazing orange scones.

We really love this kind of project: Brainstorming a solution and putting it into action, preferably with as much time spent out of doors as possible.

Blog Role Call

As this is a blog which revolves around our cottage activities, Lisa and I started up a separate one to record our travels.  Included are the reports on some of our long distance walks in Europe.  To check it out…

https://wordpress.com/view/therandoneurds.wordpress.com

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Over the years I have created some of my own blogs using the Blogspot format…

Building and sailing our first sailboat – Bluster

http://chebaccowanderings.blogspot.com/

 

Building and enjoying our second SCAMP sailboat – Fib

https://bikeguy34.blogspot.com/

 

Outdoorsy stuff…

http://bikeguy32.blogspot.com/

 

 

The Blog is Back!

Lisa started and maintained this blog for many years and it has been a great joy and record for us of this part of our lives.

As can do for any of us, the blog eventually dropped off her radar a few years ago….

Since then many things have happened in our lives. Both of us are now retired, our boys moved out, first to university and are now well into their respective careers.  We sold our suburban home of twenty five years, downsized and moved into a modern city condo in the False Creek neighbourhood of Vancouver.  Our two cats have been rehomed and our pet contingent is now just one rescue terrier named Farley.  But we still have and love our cottage!

Lisa has offered to share the administration of her blog with me so we have resurrected  and renamed it and we will both be posting about our activities there.

Thanks for checking in!

Randy

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Paint Crazy

I set out this summer to redo the exterior paint on the cottage. It was a bit of a challenge finding chunks of time between rental guests when it was also warm and dry enough to get to it.  And then there was the scraping. I estimate I spent 5 hours prepping for every one hour of painting.

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the trim was pretty bad too

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Prepping before painting

As a result, I got slightly less than half the cottage painted, but gosh it looks nice! And it is the important half – the front half. It was also the hard half, since the front takes all the sun, and there are lots of windows with finicky trim, and posts and whatnot.

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So satisfying once it is done

The trim is a BM colour called Mannequin Cream. The cottage itself use to be BM Duxbury Grey, which has a hint of green in it.  I love the colour, but here in the rain forest, paint already has a tendency to take on a green tinge, both reflected and from algae. The driveway shed was a different, slightly mauve grey of unknown origins, and it was this shade that I had colour-matched for the cottage paint. On the advice of a house painter acquaintance, I went with a premium Behr paint from Home Depot

Next summer I should be able to get the job finished. There will be much less prepping, but more ladder work, which I do not love. Meanwhile, I’m fired up to do more painting, and will start with the front hall of my home, which needs an all-over redo.