This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Don and Carol's new home came with more than smoke alarms.....

It has its own sprinkler system. Each room has one or two of these nozzles that will spray water like a fire hose if a fire ever occurs. Such systems are rare in house construction here but are required by law where Don and Carol live. Why?

The simple answer is delayed firetrucks. If the lift bridge happens to be up when the firetrucks are responding to an emergency call, they could be delayed 20-30 minutes. Such a delay would be catastrophic in a fire situation. Thus the building code for that area requires that all new homes come equipped with a sprinkler 

Here Don points to one sprinkler in the basement that must be left exposed when he closes in the ceiling.

Their house is beautiful, comfortable and fire protected; not a bad combination.

Carol made sure we were well fed, healthy well fed. Lots of delicious salads, fish and low calorie cinnamon buns. I'm hoping they were low calorie because they sure were irresistible.

Thanks again Carol and Don for looking after us so well.

Safe travels everyone and a Happy New Year to all our readers.

Monday, 30 December 2013


Whenever we visit Carol and Don we like to walk over to the Welland Canal and watch the ships go through the locks.

This freighter from Algoma Steel was heading down river towards Lake Ontario. I was surprised the lock system was still being used this far into winter.

Talk about a tight fit and it didn't bump either side; amazing seamanship.

A little smoke, a little power and the freighter begins to move out of the lock.

Don takes one last picture before the ship disappears down the river.

When we arrived home after being away for 5 days our batteries were at 100% and the house was a comfortable 18*C.

This morning, as I type, the outside temperature is -20*C. Inside we are comfortable, the wood stove is working just fine, the batteries are at 94% and we expect to see the sun later this morning.

Once the sun appears we can forget about using the wood stove as the passive solar design of the house will keep us warm without burning any fuel.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Sunday, 29 December 2013


Yesterday we spent the day celebrating Bryan and Michelle's wedding at the Ancaster Mill.

The bride was gorgeous, the groom handsome and their little girl so delightful.

The mill was the perfect place to hold the wedding, excellent food, historical setting and the river was spectacular in winter.

It was great to spend time with my sisters and see extended family.

Thanks everyone for a day full of memories. 

Soon we will be heading home after having three wonderful days staying with Carol and Don.  It has been the perfect trip, seeing family and friends and attending our nephew's wedding. 

Safe travels everyone and keep in touch.

Friday, 27 December 2013


We are in the Toronto area visiting family and friends. We had no idea of the devastation from last Sunday's ice storm until we drove through Brampton today. These pictures were taken this morning six days after the storm hit. The pictures do not convey the impact of seeing such destruction street after street. There are still people without electricity.

Haggert Street is still blocked from downed trees and limbs, six days after the storm.

Mill street looking south from Craig street. Hydro crews were busy trying to clear limbs and restore power.

Mill street south of Harold.

Trotters Lane, our old street. (click on pictures to get full view)

Living in the north is a piece of cake compared to the hardships so many of our neighbours in the south have been dealing with this week.

It takes your breath away when you stand there and see the destruction with street after street still littered with downed trees and branches.

My hat is off to all those you came to their rescue.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


We have been without internet connection for the past 36 hours. Ma Bell notified us that we were at the limit of our monthly data quota but for $50.00 they would keep us connected. Since our new month allotment starts on the 24th I thought that $50.00 was a little steep for 36 hours. I took the option to decline their offer and went outside to shovel snow.

But now we are back, connected and ready to share. 

It's getting a little crowded in town. Most businesses just stack the snow and some are now using quite a bit of their parking lot for snow removal.

My view as I was clearing our driveway during the storm on Sunday.

Update 12 pm

Our solar panels and Airstream trailer at 11 am this morning. It was -14*C when this picture was taken.

Although cold outside the sun was out and this is what the solar panels were putting into our batteries at noon today.

Looks like a winter wonderland outside. Stay warm and healthy everyone. Not sure when I'll post again as we are visiting family and friends for Christmas.

Thanks for stopping by and wishing everyone Peace, Joy and Love this Christmas.

Sunday, 22 December 2013


We have been digging out from the latest storm but it hasn't been as bad here as originally forecast. Some hydro customers in southern Ontario are without power but we are fine and this area hasn't had any power outages that we know of.

I try to keep the Airstream and solar panels clear of snow.

Mary cleans off her car.

And when we venture out we put on our clickers. 

So far we've avoided any damage from the freezing rain and the snowfall has been far less than originally predicted. Our cottage road was plowed Saturday morning which made the trip to town very easy. Today I will get the bobcat out and clear the driveway once the snow and freezing rain have passed.

We are scheduled to go Christmas caroling with the church tonight but that will depend on the weather.

Last night Dave, Vi, Peter, Eva and the girls dropped by. It was great to see them and have some time together. The girls enjoyed reading and playing while the adults visited.

Travel safely everyone. It might be a little slippery today.

Update 11 am

Just came in from clearing the driveway. Paul and Steve came over to help on their ATVs, much appreciated. Here are a few pics.

Our road; unless you have a high clearance 4x4 you won't be going anywhere soon.

Neighbours gate out my window.

We are staying put today.

Saturday, 21 December 2013


Mary decided her leather gloves needed some TLC. They were dry and looking a little ragged. Since it was a snowbound day and we weren't going anywhere it was a good day to do some research.

First job was to melt the coconut oil on the wood stove.

Add the beeswax.

Stir until everything is melted.

Remove from stove and stir some more.

Once the solution solidifies you are ready to apply it.

Gloves, boots, handbags, everything got a treatment and they look so much better.

Can you tell which one hasn't been treated?

All polished and ready for the dance floor.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 20 December 2013


Today is Friday our usual dump run day. The dump is open Friday to Monday so we do have some options. It is close to town so not a big inconvenience to drop off out garbage and recycling stuff.

Earlier this week I helped take down the sets for the Trek. 

It was an easy job and a good crew to work with. 

In Just a few hours the job was done and everything properly stored for the next production in 2015.

We are keeping an eye on the weather this weekend. Ontario is to be hit with two storms with freezing rain and the possibility of 30-40 cm of snow. The actual path of the storms won't be know until they arrive so the best we can do is be prepared, sit back and enjoy. Folks around here were making sure they had extra fuel for their generators since freezing rain usually means power interruptions.

Hopefully we will get our walk in before the storm arrives. We have enough wood to last all year and food to last for three months so no real concerns about the weather or severity of the storms that come our way.

I'll post pictures so you can see how badly or softly we get hit.

Update 9 am

Walking our road this morning.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 19 December 2013


Living four hours north of Toronto is different. For one thing it's colder. Recently our temperatures have been in the -30*C range. When it gets that cold, ears freeze, my bobcat won't start, and the car doesn't want to move.

Since we are living off grid it's not a simple solution to just plug it in and let the block heater warm up the oil. That would put us in the dark very quickly. Another solution .....................

........... hot coals under the oil pan. 

Mary was afraid  her car might not start at -34*C for her 9 a.m. appointment. I placed a pan of hot coals under the oil pan. An hour later I tried the ignition and the car fired up after a couple of tries. 

Yesterday we did the same with the bobcat, hot coals under the oil pan for an hour then a boost from Mary's car. I'd run the battery down a few days earlier trying to get the bobcat started so needed a boost as there just wasn't any power left in the skid steer.

Another problem is frostbite. Mary noticed a dry itchy patch on my earlobe and suspected frostbite. A few applications of alovera gel right from the plant and the ear was soon healed. Obviously my trusty toque wasn't doing the job up here. 

Now the solution isn't flattering but it does protect my ears completely and up here no one worries about trying to make a fashion statement. So, no jokes, no comments, no laughter; here is the solution ......................

Not cute but no more frostbite.

Another concern is the vent pipe for our battery box. I noticed that it was covered with ice so I sent Mike our installer, an e-mail. 

After a few e-mails back and forth Mike called to discuss the problem.  That's why I like dealing with local businesses, prompt service.  

Since I'm not about to go up on the snow covered roof the temporary solution is to leave the window in the mechanical room open a crack and then modify the vent pipe in the spring.

 Interesting side note: Mary had been suffering far too many allergy bouts recently. With the window opened a crack......allergy symptoms disappeared. What is that about?

I suspect the vent pipe was plugged last winter as well but since I wasn't very mobile I didn't notice it.

Life in the north; we are making adjustments and learning new skills every day but we both agree, we wouldn't trade it for anything.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Last weekend was the Maynooth Craft sale. We always enjoy the outing and make plans to attend regardless of what else is going on. It's just 20 minutes north of Bancroft so an easy visit with plenty of time to get home for other activities.

There we about 40 vendors squeezed into every available space, even some up on stage and others in the kitchen, it's that popular.

Mary took her time thoroughly inspecting all the quilts and sewing items but came away with very little. I bought some home-made chocolates, yummy and chocolate lip palm. Can you tell I like chocolate.

In January the monthly farmers' market begins in the same building and it's another event we always look forward to attending. 

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Birthday Carol.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


I had prepared an entirely different post for today but then Mary decided to do some baking. When we were kids my Mom always made cinnamon buns for Christmas. It was a tradition to have warm, fresh delicious cinnamon buns before we were allowed to open our gifts.

Last week my sister wrote and said she was busy baking cinnamon buns and that inspired Mary to do the same.

Don't they look good enough to eat right off the page?

These buns are slightly different. You mix up the dough, make the buns up into the pans, then leave it in the fridge until you are ready for some buns. Take the pan out of the fridge, bake and voila .................... fresh out of the oven cinnamon buns.

We did a batch right in our kitchen counter oven. On sunny days we use solar power to do our baking.

Tragically those buns didn't last very long. I simply have no willpower when it comes to Mary's delicious baking. 

Today we will use a smaller pan and only bake four at a time; two each ........... much more respectable.

The outside temperature as I type is -31*C or -24*F Another reason to stay inside and do some baking.

Enjoy your day and think of us enjoying those cinnamon buns.

Monday, 16 December 2013


See those buns in the top header? Check back tomorrow for a delicious treat.


From 6 to 9 it was non-stop with groups arriving constantly on the hay wagon from the church. The time passed quickly and at the end I managed to dash around and get a few shots. 

Enjoy the pictures. We enjoyed being part of the production. If you click on the picture you get a larger version.