You might wonder about having a stereo system in a house with no electricity. But yes, we did have a stereo and that certainly was a major saving grace, living as isolated as we did. It was really something to live so last century, having no indoor plumbing, no white noise from electronics, piling in the wood for heat, getting up in the night to feed the fire, using matches to make lights come on, growing food, pumping water from the well and yet having the pleasure of cranking out our favourite tunes. My dream come true to live in the middle of nowhere and be able to garden with the stereo blasting. Not that we actually did that. We got to really enjoy the solitude and the peace of living remotely and there wasn’t the need to juxtapose the recreation of rock ‘n roll with the work of gardening or mucking out the barns. Everything had its time and place.
You see we were both music lovers and had a collection of over 500 albums and possibly as many books. That’s why it was never much of a hardship, when we were snowed in for days on end. With the chores that kept us ever having to get up and out, the skiing, which invigorated our winter days, the books and the music kept us entertained.
We had put a propane light into one other room off the living room. It was large and bright with windows on two walls. On the long wall we built shelves that held all our books and albums. We had a desk and filing cabinet in there. It became “the office” and I spent a lot of time in there.
We had switched our turntable for one that could run on dc power. We had two marine batteries that we would interchange. Once one ran down, off it would go to a garage to get charged and we’d hook the clamps up to the other one. Marine batteries work that way, designed to provide a steady amount of current over a long period of time and to be deeply discharged over and over again. You can run them until they are spent and recharge them without problem quite unlike a car battery that needs a surge of current to turn the engine over during starting but rarely gets discharged completely, unless you leave your dome light on of course.
It was definitely a saving grace, having the stereo. Both Dick and I were into the same music, blasting out The Who’s Quadraphenia and Handel’s Messiah on Christmas Day, listening to Etta James or Mozart, Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Little Steven, Patsy Cline, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Little Feat, Joan Baez, John Mayall, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Howlin’ Wolf, Hoyt Axton, Emmylou Harris, Bach, The Kinks, you get the picture. But we were particularly glad to have the CBC in our home day after day. I think that saved us, really, or at least it did me. CBC is integral to millions of rural living Canadians. For years I felt that Peter Gzowski was my personal friend and companion. And I know that was true for many Canadians from Ucluelet to Pangnirtung to Cornerbook because he would tell our stories and talk to us about us. It was a sad day when he retired in 1997 and sadder still, when he died in 2002. It was the CBC that kept us all connected. It even brought me back to celebrating Christmas. But that is a story already told.