Archive for April, 2011

Canvassing Door to Door

I feel like I am in confession, forgive me blog audience it has been 2 weeks since my last confession.  But we have had Andra and the grandkids here and Mason dominated the computer, and we have played games in the evening and….. well I know there is no excuse so I will do 3 hail marys.

Pat and I went out again tonight for our door to door canvassing for funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.  I now have respect for the poor 7th day adventists and the Jehova Witnesses that have to do this all the time.  If you cannot handle rejection, you will have a problem with door to door canvassing regardless of the subject. 

Many years ago I took training in what was known as Cold Call selling.  Basically the equivalent of door to door selling only in my businesses it was cold calling on possible commercial accounts.  In my personal selling carreer this was never needed but when I was a Sales Manager I would take my junior sales people out in their territories and practice cold calls.  There were some techniques that I learned in my training that still work today. 

In those days as a manager the cold calls were more an exercise in training and not important in actual results.  I had salesmen that had $50 million dollar accounts so not gaining a $1000 account on a cold call was not that big a deal.  For my junior sales people (I had both male and female reps over the years) it was probably more traumatic. 

I did have some equivalent to cold calls on major car companies over the last 10 years but they were meetings that had been scheduled by others and with the only expectation of getting our company name across and no expectation of getting a sale, so no sense of failure.

Now, as I said, we are going door to door for funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.  Last year I was disappointed by the number of people that did not pay anything and did not really enjoy the experience.   In other words I was upset by what I thought was failure to sell although we did achieve more donations than our predecessor.

This year we are taking a different attitude.  As we go door to door we are trying to make the experience one of meeting the people regardless of donations. I am using the old techniques of  trying to connect with something that you see immediately when you meet.  A feature in the yard, a picture on the wall, the Royal Wedding just something to get past the cold call.  Another key technique is to take a step backward after introducing yourself to be less intimidating (it works)

Big difference between my old sales calls and these is that Pat is so organized she has every address from last year and the results from our calls last year.  I could only have hoped that one of my reps were this well prepared. 

We still get 2 out of 3 houses that give a rude “no” or “I gave at the office” but the other third has turned into nice chats with nice people.  Taking longer to do our territory, but the evenings out are fun and interesting.  Like the days when I was taking junior reps out on training, it really does not matter if we make a sale or not it is just the experience and apparently I have a skill in gab and Pat follows on in the conversations just as if we are at a cocktail party.  Still I think this year we will get more money than we collected last year.

Start of Next Model

I was not going to start the next model until the fall, but the weather continues to be cool, and I am getting a bit anxious, so I have started.

I am building a Japanese Junk for Meagan and Jorg.  This is an interesting project because I have no experience with this design and I have been trying for 8 months to find plans.  Every model I have made in the past I had a set of plans to follow.  Well that is not actually true as I did not have plans for Chandler’s model of the flying Dragon but for that I opied the hull layout from an earlier plan.

The search has not been successful and in my internet search I have found that other model shipwrights have also been unable to find detailed plans for Junks.  Those plans that are available are for small coastal versions or barge like vessels not up to my challenge.  I have found many photos and paintings so I have decided to make my own drawings based on photos.  Attached is my start with a basic hull profile.  This has gone through some iterations but I think will look great. 

Every serious model builder that has published books has in the end turned to making his (or her) own plans so I am following the great ones.  I just wish I had the computer program and printer to do this properly but it will be an interesting process to do the details myself and should use up my spare time for the next few months.  Also a chance to use the drafting skills I was taught 42 years ago in Engineering. 

Monday night dinner

If you watched the movie Julie and Julia last year you will recall that her entire blog was about the meals she prepared.  I think I am allowed to do the same.  Earlier you may have read about my meatloaf, but tonight I outdid myself.   My thanks to the people that supplied the recipes

Rouladen courtesy of Lisa

Spaetzle courtesy of Jorg

Cauliflower and Cheese soup courtesy of Meagan

Chick pea and basil salad courtesy of Me.

I will have leftovers because it is impossible to prepare this meal for one person.  I was going to add the red cabbage but I was already way over the limit for a meal. 

I love to cook but the biggest problem is that when I am alone I HAVE TO DO THE DISHES.  Apparently I am not the most efficient user of dishes when I cook. 

Juno Complete

I have officially declared that the model of the 1792 frigate Juno is complete.  I was waiting for a final detail the Union Jack for the bowsprit mast.  I have tried to paint small flags in the past but the paint and ink runs so I sent for a printed version of the flag in the proper scale from England.  One of the very few components in the model that I purchased, but well worth it. 

I started this model in 2006 so this has been awhile.  Not sure I could make an income on selling these.  In may ways the best model I have ever made. 

Anyway I am quite pleased with the result.


A lovely sunny day today so spent the afternoon in the yard. 

Every April the Air Force Snowbirds leave their home base in Moose Jaw and spend 2 weeks in Comox fine tuning their summer air show before taking it on the road.  We get to enjoy 2 airshows a day overhead with a final free show before they leave.  Typical fare for Paradise and most days you barely look up but today was particularly nice and as I was in the yard  I had to grab a camera and take a few shots. 

Spencer Steps

A number of years ago when Art was first going through cancer treatments he acquired a great little dog named Spencer.  A beautiful Silky Terrier that became a soul partner for Art at the time.  Over the years Art recovered and met Maureen but he remained deeply attached to this little dog.

I was very impressed with Spencer although he was never close or affectionate to me, but I saw how he loved Art.  Another attribute that I liked was that Spencer was not an aggressive yappy dog (unlike two grand dogs that I will not mention at this time)  (dont get me wrong I love my grand puppies)

It was obvious over the last few years that Spencer was becoming a senior citizen so Art asked me last year to make a set of steps so Spencer could get up on the couch to join him as Art was having more problem picking him up.    Easy project so that became Spencer Steps 1. 

This last winter Maureen contacted me because with Art gone Spencer now needed her contact.  Spencer sleeps with her on the bed but the bed is much higher than the couch so needed a new set of Spencer steps.  Finished them off and a friend carried them over to Vancouver.  Maureen says the steps are perfect size and Spencer immediately knew how to use them to get on the bed. 

These are the kind of projects I like as I can make them from the wood supplies I have on hand. 

Spencer Step 1


Spencer Step 2

Meat Loaf

One of the most common cool weather meals is a meat loaf.  What carnivore diner cannot love what is essentially a great big Hamburger patty.  Spicing and finishing can make this an exotic dining experience but it remains a basic food.

Over the many years, Pat has made some great meat loaves and I have enjoyed each and every one.  I have assisted in the production of this great repast, but up until now I have never been the prime chef.

When I retired, one of the gifts was a subscription to Fine Dining magasine given by my good friend Stacey Schwartz.  She knew my love of cooking and we had shared many recipes before.

Every now and then the magasine does a step by step process with photos on how to do a basic recipe.  They did one recently on meat loaf. 

It is not a recipe it is an instruction on how to make your own recipe it just lays out the production steps and ingreditant options for each step.  For example it calls for 2 lbs of ground meat but gives 8 options on how to make up the 2 lbs.  Then a cup of chopped vegetables (from a list of 10)  then the spicing options and the flavour options but all leading to a meat loaf at the end.  I expect the options would lead to 1000 different recipes but all lead to success.

Now I go through this detail because Pat is away and I am finished the model and I finished the yard work, so now I can spend an entire afternoon making a meal. (for one person)  A great meal with soup to begin, meatloaf and perogies (sauted in onions and bacon)  for the entree.  I expect if Pat ever left me forever I would weigh 300 lbs in no time. 

In the end I had a meat loaf that would feed 8 people so I will freeze half and use the rest for leftovers.  But it was a pretty meatloaf and tasted fantastic.


I went fishing yesterday with our friends Harry and Marie.  Harry bought a boat last year that he keeps moored in Port Alberni.  He is still learning of the good spots up and down the inlet and out into Barclay sound.  First time fishing for me in 20 years ( I do not count watching James fish on the houseboat)

A beautiful day with blue skies and very moderate wind.  As it was the boat tossed quite a bit although Marie kept commenting on how calm it was.  Apparently I do not get seasick as it never bothered me even when I went below deck. 

We dropped a series of pots (actually nets) and then trolled for hours down the fiord.  Harry was quite disappointed as he thought we did not catch much but by the end of the day we had a large Ling Cod, two dozen large Prawns and at least a dozen crabs.  Unfortunately most of the crabs were female and we had to toss them back but the prawns were gorgeous.  Think of super jumbo shrimp.  The size of the netting in the trap means you only keep the big ones as the smaller ones can swim out. 

Just a great day.  I begin to realize why some guys like fishing.  Granted if it had been raining and we had not caught anything would have been a different story.

Crab Pot

Caramel Sauce

Pat and I were watching a cooking show the other day and the chef made a very interesting dessert so we decided to make it.  One of the ingredients was a rich carmel sauce.  When I have made it in the past it involved lots of stirring of heating sugar and the consistency was not always right. 

This chef used a simple recipe. 

You take a can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk.  Remove the label but do not open the can.  Place it on its side in an oven going pot, cover it with water (at least 1 inch over the can) cover the pot and put it in the oven.  Bake at 350°F for 3 1/2 hours (do it when you are baking something else if you wish) 

Remove the can and let it cool down somewhat before you open it.  The smoothest sweetest carmel sauce that you ever tasted.