Archive for May, 2012

James Bond

I loved reading the James Bond books when I was younger.  I believe I had read all of the books by the time I was 21.  With only one exception ( For Your Eyes Only which is a series of short stories)  I never re-read the Bond books.  The movies came out one after another and that filled the bill.

Over the years I bought most of the books (all second-hand) with the intention of reading them again one day. 

This last week, after finishing a novel that I did not care for that much, I went to the basement and picked out one of the Bond books “From Russia with Love”   My intention was to have an easy read where there was not a flurry of new characters every chapter and dozens of twists.

IT WAS A GREAT BOOK.  Although based in 1957 with the political situation in Britain at the time and an out-dated attitude about women (apparently they needed to be spanked occasionally in those days) it was a great read.  It holds up well against modern novels in story, action and character development. 

If you know my scoring system for books (0 – 5) this scored a 4 which is relatively rare. 

I will postpone reading the rest of the series until I need another future recovery from a bad book.

Gold River Miata Run

This last weekend was the first Miata Club event of the year.  Members from Nanaimo and Courtenay joined for a run up to Campbell river and then west to the village of Gold River and then back to Campbell river.  Stayed the night at Painters Lodge with a group dinner and then home.

The run from Campbell River to Gold River is on a twisty mountain road with little traffic. Perfect Miata type road with hundreds of turns.  Corners that had warning signs of 30 km per hour  or 40 km per hour you drive at 80.  Exhilirating.  There were 14 cars in the group and a good bunch of people. 

At 11pm Pat and I left the party and went out on the dock to watch the cruise ships float by in the narrow channel coming and going from Alaska.

Great weekend

Annual Puntledge River Run

We live in Courtenay where we have the privledge of getting our water supply from the Comox Lake which in turn gets its water from the snow from the mountains and the Glacier. Perfect water, as soft as Eider Down.  No trace of chemicals or minerals.  To drink our tap water is like drinking from the best of bottled water.  And we also get to water our lawn and flower beds with this marvelous water supply.    Should be the greatest of luxury.

The bad news is that the Comox Lake, while provincially owned, is managed by BC Hydro since they have a hydro dam that controls the level of the lake.  The town gets its water from the lake but there is a political issue on the lake management. 

This weekend is an example.  The runoff from the mountains is making the level of the lake high so BC Hydro, in connection with BC Tourism, is planning a white water river run down the Puntledge river which runs from the lake to the ocean.  White water fans from around the world (that according to the BC Hydro site) come to take part in this 3 day event.  In fact there are at most 200 people who take part as it is a very aggressive run. 

The bad part is that during this three-day run, they release as much water from the lake as all the town of Courtenay would use in an entire year.  BC Tourism thinks this is great, but none of the paddlers spend money in the community (think of  200 hippies)  After this flush is done they will be surprised, and announce watering restrictions in the valley, because the lake level is low,  just as we go into the drought of the summer. 

An annual political event as the town fights against provincial control of the water source.  Small town politics can be interesting.  Whatever, we do live in a water rich environment unlike most of the world, so not that serious, but it does fill the comment sections of the local paper each year.

Baking Powder Biscuits

A fond memory I have of food that mother and Aunt Grace made when we were kids, is baking powder biscuits.  Generally when we were having a stew.   For some reason we have not made them for many years.

For tonight’s meal I had an inspiration.  I made a big batch of my 9 bean soup (with cut up bacon) and that was to be our main meal this evening.  Than I had a greater idea and that was to make a batch of baking powder biscuits to go with it.  Actually it did not come out of thin air as I was reading our latest Fine Cooking magazine and one article was about making Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits, which I recognized as the old recipe (aside from the buttermilk) that mother used to make.

So I made a batch to go with the soup for supper.  Even made the buttermilk (basically milk with some vinegar and a bit of butter) to see if it made a difference.  They rose to a height of 2 inches and were flaky and delightful.  The soup was also great.  The picture is the biscuit leftovers, which Pat wants to save for breakfast or lunch.

The strip of tin can  in the background is an important detail.  Apparently we did not have a cookie or dough cutter in our collection to make the right sized biscuits.  So I took a can (originally holding olives) and cut it down to a 2 inch high ring, sanded the edges and made a perfect sized cutter.   If women do not find you handsome they had better find you handy. 

Needless to say I write this blog while Pat cleans the kitchen and I am excused as I am being creative.  My momma did not raise no fool.

Wind Chimes

Years ago I made a set of wind chimes that involved an intricate top and bamboo chimes.  Always liked the sound but the bamboo rods that made the chimes always dried out and split so the sound went from bwong to blat.  Got lazy in the end so the chimes sounded like hail on the roof tiles.

When we were in Hawaii I read an article in the local artsy magazine, about tuning a perfect set of copper chimes based on type M 3/4 inch copper pipe.  Now I found this interesting because most plumbing is type L copper pipe.  I had to go on line to realize that type M is thinner wall pipe.

The directions came with the exact lengths to cut each of the 5 notes (c sharp, d sharp etc) and a repeat 0f one at the next octave (whatever). 

So in my eternal quest for interesting things to do, when we returned home I went searching for type M copper pipes.  Not that easy since if you are plumbing a house with 3/4 inch copper pipe you probably would spend the money for the thicker type L , but I eventually found 6 feet of Type M 3/4 inch copper pipe.

Cut the lengths exactly to the formula and drilled the holes for the cross  brass rod at the exact dimension and soldered them.  Put rubber sleeves on each rod inside the pipe to isolate the hanging line from the sides to eliminate any loss in resonation.  Tested each chime with Pat to make sure they were perfectly tuned to the note adjusting to the length  c sharp, d sharp, etc.  Then suspended them from the cage that I built years ago and hung it in the back yard.

Perfect notes from the chimes, I expect that there are music afficionados gathering around our yard to hear the perfect dulcet notes, but after two days it is driving me nuts.  I guess I do not have a musical ear.  Sounds like cow bells.  Fortuately the chimes are pure copper so eventually I can sell them at  a pawn shop. 

Back From Hawaii

Seems like forever since I wrote a new blog, but we have been travelling and access has not been that great and in any case I was on vacation.

I was discussing the relative relaxation attitude of vacation versus normal retirement days with someone and observed that retirement and vacation time is much the same but vacation days cost more.  That was certainly true for this trip.

We flew over to Hawaii and had 5 days on Lana’i where we stayed at the Lana’i inn.  This was a much more affordable place than the 2 resorts on the island.  Pat and I visited both the resorts and they were wonderful with great golf courses but far beyond our budget.  We spent 2 days driving around the island in a rented jeep on roads that a goat would reject.  Rough rides but great adventure with private beaches and great views the reward.  The next 2 days we spent relaxing at Hulopoe Beach which according to Frommer’s travel guide is the best beach  in the US!!!!


We went on to spend 10 days in Maui staying at a condo in Maalaea.  Alternating days at the beach or me going snorkelling with drives around this gorgeous island.  One drive was to the top of Haleakala Volcano and another was through the rain forest to Hana.  Both great drives.  But for me the best part of the trip was the snorkelling dives I took to Molokini.  Thousands of fish on a beautiful reef. 

       After Maui we flew back to Honolulu to join the Rhapsody of the Seas for 11 days.  The ship sailed around to various Islands so we could experience several spots.  Went on a tour to the Iao valley and wandered the town of Kona and then took a tour to see recent lava flows and walk on black sand.  Every Island was a unique experience.  A great vacation but we were glad to get home