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

If you have any questions send us a comment; we love to hear from our readers.
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Friday, 31 May 2013


Yesterday, Toronto had it's first "heat alert" day this year and we are still in the month of May; think what June, July and August might be like. I wish I could take a picture of the comfort level in our house. 

Temperature at 6:30 pm

Outside it is 30*C (86*F) inside it is 24*C (75*F) without the use of air-conditioners, cooling systems, or other mechanical means to achieve the temperature difference. How did we do this?

It all relates to the house construction. Our house faces south with massive windows, floor to ceiling in the south wall. You would think all that glass facing south would be a problem. 

South wall 6:30 pm (note overhang)

The secret is the overhang above these windows. It extends the roof out 5 feet which keeps the direct rays out of the house during the summer months. In winter when the sun is lower in the sky, we get the full benefit of the sun to warm the interior of the house.

The massive amount of concrete in the walls and floor help to maintain a constant temperature throughout the year. In winter they absorb the heat from the sun and wood stove and give it back into the house during the night.

In the summer we open the windows at night to allow the cool night breeze into the house which is absorbed by the concrete. During the day this coolness is released back into the house keeping us cool without spending energy to achieve the comfort level.

If you are thinking of building in the next year or two, think ICF, specifically Durisol ICF.

Thanks for stopping by and "stay cool"

Thursday, 30 May 2013

She's Back

Yesterday about 4 pm I decided to check on the nest before the boys arrived to cut more trees. I had a rough idea of the location but was not able to  see any eggs from the path. 

This is the brush where I thought the nest was located.  As you can see even at this close range you can not detect the nest. Thinking the nest had been abandoned I walked up to the brush trying to see the eggs that I hoped no raccoon had eaten. Nothing, not even an eggshell could I see. But then to my surprise I saw a head and realized the turkey was back on her nest.

I've decided we will leave that area and cut trees elsewhere until the eggs have hatched. It is amazing how close I was and yet she didn't move. She knows her ability to stay perfectly still when predators are close is her best survival chance. Once the eggs hatch the baby turkeys must leave the nest within 12 hours. I'm looking forward to seeing the little ones with their mom.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


It is a sad day here. Looks like our turkey has vacated her nest. We would see her under the bird feeders several times a day and suspected she had a nest nearby. 

Yesterday while clearing the trees we cut down on May the 12th, Matthew was startled when she suddenly erupted from the brush he was about to move. 

We thought the nest would be further from the house but it was tucked under the limbs of the trees (in the middle of the picture above)  the boys had cut down 3 weeks ago. 

We immediately left and worked in another area hoping she would return but so far she hasn't. There are 13 eggs and I think by now they have been left too long without her attention. 

We love living so close to nature and want to avoid disturbing their habitat or life cycle to the point where they leave the area. Next year we will be sure to give her lots of space if she decides to hang around here again.

Send us a note if you have any suggestions.

Update - 3:10 pm

The turkey in the above header just showed up and is enjoying what bird seed it can find on the ground. Unfortunately I don't think it was the one on the nest.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


I'd never heard the term "Economic Hit Man"  until Don loaned me the book.

"Today we still have slave traders. They no longer find it necessary to march into Africa looking for prime specimens who will bring top dollar on the auction blocks of Charleston, Cartagena, and Havana. They simply recruit desperate people and build a factory to produce the jackets, blue jeans, tennis shoes, automobile parts, computer components and thousands of other items they can sell in the markets of their choosing. Or they may elect to not even own the factory themselves; instead they hire a local businessman to do all their dirty work for them." page 212 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

In light of the recent collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh with over 1,000 garment workers, mostly women, killed and our realization that so many of our "goods" are produced off shore, this is a book you need to read.

"We live in a time of terrible crisis - and tremendous opportunity. The story of this particular economic hit man is the story of how we got to where we are and why we currently face crises that seems insurmountable. This story must be told because only by understanding our past mistakes will we be able to take advantage of future opportunities................" pg 258

Hope you get a chance to read the book. It's informative, riveting and full of documented historical accounts. You won't be able to put it down.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 27 May 2013


We've enjoyed using our "Big Green Egg" with Carol and Don here the past few days.

Our BBQ sits just off the deck on one the south landing. Although we have to contend with the bugs it is a little further away from the house for safety reasons.

It's easy to regulate the temperature even though it burns charcoal. Simply adjust the dampers to the opening needed to give you the temperature you want. 

Steak, hamburgers ...................

fish, even desserts are done to perfection. One safety consideration that is mentioned in the operating manual is "flash backs". 

Notice the singed hair? If you open the lid too quickly when it is hot, the gas "flashes back" out the opening and over you. Fortunately I got away with just a few singed hair and this happened just a few minutes after I warned my sister about  opening the lid too quickly. Can't be too careful when using a BBQ. 

Be careful friends and safe travels.

Saturday, 25 May 2013


We enjoyed our short road trip and a chance to see family and friends we hadn't seen in quite a while. Another bonus was going back to see places we hung out at when we were kids.

Our first stop was to see our friends Wayne and Barb. We don't get to see them often but we always have a good time whenever we do. Wayne is on the waiting list for new lungs so please lift him in prayer whenever you think of him. It is amazing how many lives can be saved if we would just inform our loved ones of our wishes to have our organs donated when we die. 

This is Wasaga Beach the longest sandy beach on fresh water in the world. It has always been a haven for kids and when we rented a cottage here back in the 50s they allowed cars to drive along the beach. That has all changed and everything is very controlled.

If there are kids around there needs to be lots of places to spend their money. Wasaga has the usual arcades, clothing shops, diving shops and sports equipment shops.  It's "party central" for the kids from Toronto throughout the summer. 

It's sunny and cool here this morning. We are off to Maynooth later for the "Farmers' Market" while Mary is going to another "Quilting Class" today. This evening we hope to see "Chimney Swifts" fly down a local chimney as they come home to roost. I'll let you know tomorrow what we see.

Thanks for stopping by. Safe travels

Friday, 24 May 2013


OK, no more complaints about Canada Post. My sister mailed our modem Thursday and it was here in Bancroft by noon Friday. WOW! Great service. Now that we are connected to the internet I need to get back to my daily posting. 

Thanks for keeping an eye on us. Safe travels everyone.


Sorry for the delay in posting. We are home and had a great time visiting family and friends last week. Unfortunately I left my modem at my sister's and must rely on the computers at the town library to get my e-mails. I should be back on line from home by Tuesday. Be patient and I will write again asap.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


We are having a great time visiting with my sisters this week. Mary is taking quilting classes while I get caught up on all the news. Should be home by Thursday.

More pictures once we are home. See you Wednesday Pat.

Friday, 17 May 2013


Beer Can Chicken is a popular way to do a whole chicken on the BBQ. It keeps the bird very moist and guaranties you will not burn it in the process.

We first filled this ceramic bowl with beer, placed the chicken over the bowl and then onto the grill. For those who prefer a basic approach to cooking simply open a can of beer, drink half and place the chicken over what's left. 

As the chicken cooks the beer evaporates and keeps the bird moist.

Every ten minutes we sprayed the bird with a dressing Mary had prepared. We cooked the bird at 375*F and found it very easy to control the temperature of the "Big Green Egg" 

Voila! After an hour and a half it was done to perfection and delicious. We were delighted with the taste and succulent meat this method of cooking produced.

Did you notice the chocolate desserts in the header collage?  We did those on the BGE as well and they were even better than the chicken. Of course I'm partial to desserts; especially chocolate desserts.

We are off on a short road trip. Mary is taking a quilting class and we are also dropping in to visit with my sisters so we may not be posting much for a week or so.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us. Safe travels and enjoy the long weekend.

If you are heading north, bring your bug shirt. The blackflies are out in full force and are just waiting to greet you. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013


Whenever Leanne visits, one highlight for her is a walk to the back of the property. This always yields new discoveries and a host of possibilities.

Last week a variety of samples were collected and examined back at the house.

After carefully selecting what was needed and returning what wasn't  ........................

several beautiful terrariums were constructed and now grace the window-ledge of our bedrooms.

Inside, the girls helped their mom select fabric for a quilt ....

Owen explored ...................

and Sherri made these delicious sugar coated muffins. We need to get this recipe; they are melt in your mouth delicious. If you could taste one, you would want them all; they are that good.

Thanks for stopping by. Tomorrow I write about our first "Beer Can Chicken" another culinary highlight on the BGE.  (Big Green Egg)

Safe travels everyone

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


It was great to hear from so many friends yesterday. You made my day. Thank you for all the birthday wishes. 

As many of you know our house faces south with huge floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the forest. It's like living in a park with a front row seat to an ever changing kaleidoscope of colour and events throughout the year.

Our latest source of entertainment is the new variety of birds at our feeders and of course the male turkey in the area who is busy pursuing any female he can find. The "Big Tom" was back yesterday giving us a fine show as he strutted and displayed right outside our windows.  (click on picture for a larger view)

Now isn't he a handsome guy? My sister, after seeing his picture, said she just can't imagine eating such a beautiful creature. 

I agree, although this is hunting season, I'm not sure I could actually see this guy on my plate later in the afternoon. I just enjoy him too much to see any harm come his way.  I hope he gets to father a hundred little turkeys and we get the privilege of seeing some later this summer. I'll keep you posted.

With more rain in today's forecast we will be working inside. Our tree cutters are up in Algonquin Park on a canoe trip which means it will be the end of the month before we get more trees down. The black flies are out so it's just as well the boys aren't here trying to work in the bush.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the day. Always good to hear from you. Doug and Lori, we look forward to getting together after you get back from Nashville.

Safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


Today I plan to sleep in, stay in my PJs until after lunch and simply relax and enjoy the day. It's my birthday and I'll do what I want.

Enjoy the day because I plan to.

Monday, 13 May 2013


It's turkey hunting season up here and also their mating time so we were surprised and excited to see this big tom just outside our window. (click on pictures for a better view) These photos were taken by Mary as it was too early in the morning for me to be up.

He was strutting his best for the ladies in the audience......

and she was playing nonchalant and  uninterested.

Oh, courtship, it's tough in the wilds.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


Mother - that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries. DeWitt Talmage

Mother's love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. - Marion C. Garretty

Mothers hold their children's hand for a short while but their hearts forever. Author unknown.

Thank you Mom. 

Enjoy your day.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


No we are not eating plastic lizards for breakfast.

Time for some real adult food. We are about to sit-down for pancakes with real Canadian maple syrup.

Home-made buckwheat-blueberry pancakes. Delicious!

Now the girls are setting up a blog page for their mom. What great kids we have.

Enjoy the day and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 10 May 2013


Yesterday we moved the trailer. It's the first time we've hooked up and pulled the trailer in over a year. It sure felt good, just like old times. The only thing missing were Marvin and Annie.

Now you've got to know that when grandpa heads for the truck one curious little guy is sure to follow. Owen loves all the switches, dials and sounds everything makes in the cab. So he and Mary helped me with the move. Owen made the noises, Mary gave directions and I did what I was told. I'm learning.

So here's the team giving directions from the bug free environment while I'm outside making sure everything is OK.

Grandpa, look what I found?

If it's got moving parts, Owen has to check it out. Grandpa's tools are better than Fisher-Price toys.

Still having fun up in the north country.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


You can't see them but they are swarming the boys as they haul logs. The black-flies are out in full force and I'm sure Matthew ate a dozen.

Yesterday we cleared more brush and Nathan took down more poplars. The area to the south is now starting to open up and giving us a longer view towards the pond.

Nathan cuts the brush into lengths we can handle. Matthew hauls it over to the "bobcat" and I cart it over to the dump. It all works very smoothly thanks to the boys.

Our view from from the "great-room" ; much more open with just the maple trees left standing.

Owen enjoys watching all the activity out the window. While we worked he gave instructions through the glass. He is a true "sidewalk foreman".

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Nathan and Matthew have been coming over after school to help us clear brush and cut down more trees. They usually stay until the sun starts to set and the black flies decide it's time for supper. Working in the bush when the black flies are out isn't pleasant but neither boy complains.

When you go into the bush to work you need the right tools, bug repellent, safety boots, pants and hat.

Nathan checks the tree then notches it in the direction he wants it to fall. So far he's at 100%

Another tree comes down.

Once down I use the "bobcat" to lift the trunk so Nathan can cut it up into firewood.  Yes I know, I'm in the air-conditioned cab, Nathan is out there with the blackflies.

Owen likes to help around the house too. Here he is helping Oma sweep the deck, using a stick. He has the right idea just not the right tool. He's such a sweetie. We love every minute together.

Owen and grandpa off to town. Like most guys, Owen likes to drive the big truck.