No, WordPress, I haven’t fractured a major skeletal part…

Have you ever broken a bone?

…however, I did destroy a Sthil MS250 chainsaw bar and chain. This weekend.

Ugly, part 1 (at 368 Lindsay Road 40).

Our neighbour, MS, helped me take down the other half of this leaning, dead, ash (that’s smack dab in the middle of our future BCB&B build site). I have a 15’ poker-straight length that can be milled. The rest, long term storage for firewood.

Not so ugly, part 2 (this 15’ section will NOT be bucked).

I removed the saw’s head to prevent further injury to the chainsaw.

Since 2014, this freeway was our route…

…to and from our property. That route, like the Hwy 407-400-89-10-6 has always been a bit nerve-wracking. It’s the main reason my mother-in-law insisted on helping us buy a Toyota Tacoma. Mind you, our clown car held its own on that trek from 2014-2018. It was packed to the gills with chainsaws, tools, rakes, and implements-of-destruction (a nod to a folk song).

Image of future BCB&B site.

4 weeks of harvesting, logging, and chipping…

…leads to a roughed-in build site! See the attached images, eh.

Revision: Ah. So THAT’S how one inserts images. Oy.

Juvenile rattlesnake said…

…hey! Back off. So we did. 4 hummingbirds found our forest feeder and are now having a turf war over the bloody thing.

A humourus 12 minute description of our feathered fiends (not friends).

And a safety PSA for Mountain Trout Camp. 🤨

Lumber update: I’m chopping straight lengths of oak & maple (~5-6’ blocks) so that I can dry them out and possibly mill them. It’s too nice to burn!

Lush, heavy rain, and cooler than our last woodlot work-session.

Today will be an indoor session at Mountain Trout Camp (MTC). I’m looking forward to finding out how MS’s wolf-pack enjoy the canine treats (test version 1 and 2). TS wanted to ensure MS received the perishable chocolate-peanut-butter-banana-upside-down cake (as it’s still in its pan). Our recently-purchased deep-cycle battery has been trickle-charging since yesterday evening (we’ll try installing the cellular booster kit tomorrow at the BCB&B build-site). With all this torrential rainfall, TS researched precipitation capture systems. Apparently, Evolve Builders has published some 2010 case-studies of their efforts (link)! One might wonder why we are concerned about water conservation here on the North Bruce Peninsula (as we are surrounded by Lake Huron & Southern Georgian Bay). We are witnessing extreme weather events here on the Bruce (due to climate change) and I want to mitigate its effects on our household. I want to change my consumption habits (and reduce my impact on our local water cycles). Based on my research of the region (here [link], here [link], and here [link]), the area’s also overdue for a major forest fire (and we need to prepare for that with wildfire-control [not avoidance] systems).

This will be our first (modest) attempt at off-grid electrical power generation at 368 Lindsay Road 40.
Here’s an image of our very first inverter for the woodlot (being tested out at the VPCI school garden).
The Fluke DMM’s measuring the V at the battery terminals (while the kit’s being tested at VPCI).

Welcome to the Black Cat Blog!

Welcome to our Black Cat Blog!


Hello there!

Welcome to the first ever blog post of the Black Cat Bed and Breakfast, a retreat up north on the Bruce Peninsula in lovely Ontario, Canada.

This blog is going to be dedicated to the musings and workings of our soon-to-be-B-and-B. At the moment, it’s just an intention with a lot of thought and work behind it. We are the proud owners of 25 acres of rocks and trees (and water) in the part of the Bruce called Miller Lake, although we’re closer to Gillies Lake. Our property boundaries are, on two sides, the Bruce Trail: one side because it’s Lindsay Road 40, which is actually part of the trail, and the second side because the Bruce Trail Conservancy has purchased the 25 acre lot next to us.

We have a driveway and a sort-of parking spot. In winter, the snow can get up to 1.5 m or more on the driveway, because we aren’t up there all the time yet. And in the summer, I’m finding I have to weed the driveway because again, we aren’t up there to run the suckers over.

We go up when we can. We work and prep and dream and think and wonder.

We rent a lovely house about 1 km from our property so we have a place to stay while we’re getting things ready for you, our soon-to-be guests.

During the summer, we sit and watch the bats come up at night while the sun sets. We listen to the whippoorwill sing, and watch the moths flit around the flowers in the garden. The stars are amazing up there. The Bruce Peninsula isn’t just a world heritage site; it’s also a dark sky preserve. And it’s beautiful.

During the winter, the sunsets are spectacular and the snow comes down, thick and strong. Last time we were up there in January, we had probably 30 cm of snow over three days. The snowmobilers love it, as does our neighbour, who runs a dog sled when the snow is deep enough. We snowshoe around the property lines and sometimes even build a snowcat.

During the fall, the leaves turn red and gold and bright, bright orange. The bears come to the orchard behind the house to gorge on wild apples. And y’know what? Bears do, actually, shit in the woods. Shocking, I know.  (And you know the expression, “slippery as shit”? Well, Paul discovered that’s true too.)

During the spring, the asparagus comes up in our rental house’s garden and the sandhill cranes come back to lay their eggs. The hummingbirds come back from their winter homes, and we put up a feeder to watch them through the windows. Dandelions cover everything and the ostrich ferns put out fiddleheads.

So that’s our land. We are working to build our home, which will also be your home when you come and stay with us, and we hope to have it ready for you in the fall of 2024.

In the meantime, come and spend some time with us here. I will write about the things I know, like food and cooking, knitting and sewing, thinking and books and sometimes gardening too.

Paul will write about what he knows, like bushcraft and knives, woodcraft and science, diving and astronomy and sometimes gardening too.

And we will always write about black cats, because we have three lovely black beasts who are sweet and furry. Like all cat parents, we can’t help but talk about them.

So come and join us. Hang around for a bit, and see what you think. And hopefully, when our story is ready, you’ll come on up and become a part of it, too.

Freedom 55 minus 2

What is your career plan?

Does anyone remember this Canadian advertisement campaign back in 1990-1995? FREEDOM 55. Uh huh. Now, I’m on the other side of that ad. Keep slogging through my current career until 55? No thanks. So, my next career plan? I’m treating my (generous) teacher pension as a guaranteed income, and monetize my hobbies.

Time to activate long dormant plans…

Yes, PN has had a retirement countdown timer running since the Fall of 2022. TS is ready. PN is ready. Release the hounds!

Eventually, I might compile these 100-some-odd graffiti activities into an artwork. It’s how I cope with the insanity of being a high school science teacher. PN.

2 months of contract teaching left…

…and then it’s July 2023. The clean up begins. TS and I clean up our GTA condominium suite, follow the mantra (when in doubt, throw it out), and begin rental-accomodation hunting (up on the North Bruce Peninsula). To casual Bruce Trail hikers: please respect the signage for our property. Expect to encounter heavy machinery at 368 Lindsay Road 40.

Happy December 25th!

PN is grateful that TS is recovering so well post knee-surgery. TS is becoming an Fe-womyn with all of those various (borderline sadistic) physiotherapeutic exercises (Gus [from the clinic], if you’re reading this, I don’t know whether to thank you or curse you).

While I want to spend a week at the site (during our break), that will have to wait until TS’s knee heals more. Sure, I’m all gung-ho about trudging into the lot — solo. That’s a bit too risky. I cannot rely on my neighbours to bail me out if I do something stupid (they ARE called widowmakers for a reason, eh).

In the meantime, TS is making ~600-900 wolf biscuits for our wolfman & his pack (MS, we’re looking forward to our next visit; it’s possible we can meet you 1/2 way for a dawg-treat exchange).

Last item: when Evolve Builders visited our site earlier this month, they took additional images of our roughed in build-site. I’ve sprinkled those images in on our website. The annotations are my own and does NOT represent the views of our contractor, eh.

I’m hoping the frozen ground will allow our well driller opportunities to do exploratory testing. And our wastewater system installer to test the strata’s percolation performance. TBA = to be announced.
As our home gets built, PN will try to get additional images from this vantage point.
If you’d like a graffitti-free image, please contact PN.

Ah… so THAT’S why I received so many telephone calls from satellite ISP agents…

When TS & I move up to the peninsula, we expect to pay a lot for broadband internet service. Off-grid. Our property line is at least ~1000 m from the last utility pole. Link to CBC article.

Educate Yourself…

I am very aware that I earn a fantastic salary, posess excellent medical benefits, and a have a pension fund that can’t be beat.

I have the luxury of retiring in June. My CUPE colleagues — no.

My colleagues in CUPE (especially in caretaking, as a CYW, or performing EA duties) often do the same tasks as I do. Cleaning up labs? De-escalating students in crisis? Tutorials? Restorative justice? Classroom supervision? They’re in the thick of it — just like me.

CUPE education staff are also thrust into high-risk learning environments. The caretakers I know also have to clean up disgusting messes left by teenagers. Caretakers are on the stop-watch, and must complete their backbreaking labour during the odd hours of the day.

Ontario Federation of Labour. Educate yourself here (link).

CBC Ontario. When my peers do get some (measly) pay increase, it’ll be gobbled up by basic living expenses. Grocery bills. Educate yourself here (link).

October 2022 360-degree image

You are looking at my 2nd attempt at making a full-sphere image of our driveway at the build-site. My iDevice did its very best at knitting together images into an image bubble. Yes, PN is wearing red wooly socks in his Birkenstocks. TS is accepting of my fashion crimes.

PN & TS also cut away that risky blind-spot on the West side of the enterance (so that we can avoid the locals who bomb along that gravel road).

To my students & colleagues: don’t speed like a maniac down such roads. These speeders cannot stop in time. If they fish-tail and Tokyo-drift off the side of the road… there’s no way in hell they are getting their vehicle out. Trust me… several winters ago, I got my hoity-toity SNOWKAT (Toyota Tacoma) into the median. And it slowly slid off the embankment. Despite my 4WD, I had to get towed out by a neighbour who happened to drive by (and then THEY got stuck).

Oh, and if one were to injure oneself in a self-imposed MVA (motor vehicle accident), it will take the ambulance 1/2h to reach that victim… and another 1/2h to return to the nearest ICU (tiny hospital at Lions Head, somewhat bigger trauma centre at Wiarton, helicopter EVAC might be possible from that site [with the victim possibly footing the bill]).

Now, we have to deal with the blind-spot on the other side of the driveway!

First FULL Week At Werk…

I’m enjoying working with my junior technicians.

I’d like to share a random tale. This one showcases 6 different urban myths. I’d rate it as PG-13.
About 30 (thirty) years ago, TS and I went to an psychic faire back in British Columbia. We had a vaguely similar experience. Nope. Nope. Nope!
Re: The Uncanny Valley. TS & I have mused about putting weird gardens gnomes at the 4 corners of the property. Ensure they are covered with bioluminescent fungi. I think visiting our place should be an unforgettable experience! Especially at night. TS reserves the right to veto my action.

Another year of stand-up philosophy!

I’m looking forward to this contract year (as a high school science teacher). Would I rather be on the property clearing the build site? Would I rather be pulling out deadfall and Widowmakers on our 10Ha woodlot? Would I rather be maintaining the tractor/ATV trails with my Sthil saws & cutters? Would I rather be chipping branches for our soil operation? Would I rather be bucking & splitting logs for storage (for eventual sale or for fueling an outdoor oven or soaker tub)?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes.

…I’m still learning how to embed RSS feeds onto our site. I visit HOW TO GEEK and its daughter sites (essentially) daily. This week, there was an opinion article about how unpleasant it is to watch movies at stand-alone theatres (link). TS also enjoyed the article.

And now. And now, we clean up…

…after 2 weeks in the bush, it’s time to clean up our kit. Important culinary safety note = (Dairy Queen [Chicken Strips + Fries + medium-sized Blizzard with Skor bits]) + (Brunswick Smoked Sardines) + (Brunswick Tomato-Basil Sardines) + (PBJ-on-unsalted-crackers) = gastric woe until 01:00 EST. PN should really know better, eh.

Hardwood is…

…well, hard. A grove of slow-growing oak, maple, and ironwood (yes, that’s a real Ontario tree [I’m using this tree atlas to identify my plants])… are challenging me. I thought I would be able to sharpen my saw’s chain every 3 days. Nope. The chain skates on the media! Daily sharpening. Daily!

I won’t be burning the straight, unblemished logs. They’re piled on a flat deck… single layer. I’ll be picking up a jig that I can attached to (a second?) saw so that I can try my hand at making lumber. To give away? To make tchotchkes? To turn on a lathe? Give TS and me your ideas, eh.

Additional information about trees? Visit this site: