Archive for April, 2014

Last view of Port Guns

I decided a long time ago that for the Model of the Victory I was going to have the starboard side with the gun ports open and guns in firing position.  This will be the front when on display at Andra and Sean’s .

The Port side will have the gun ports closed, which would be the normal situation when they were not going into battle or sailing.  The reason is to display the iconic checkerboard motif that was Nelson’s choice for his flagship.

As a result, all the guns that I turned on a lathe, built the carriages and mounted on the port side (about 40 guns in all) will never be seen again.

So I took this picture for the last view of these guns.  I have already closed in the lower deck and have to close in the upper decks   You can zoom in




I like milk.

In the morning I have a cup of milk on my cereal and for lunch I have a large glass.  As the years pass Pat (and our daughters) have made me step down from Homo (Oh drool) to 2% and then to 1% and then they tried to drive me to skim.

Skim milk is not milk.  It may have all the nutrients of milk, but it tastes like 1% milk with a cup of water poured in to dilute it.  It is so thin the milk looks blue when you hold it up to light.   Pat’s sisters Lois and Mary Ellen are part of the conspiracy to convince me that skim milk is good.  I suspect they drink whole milk when I am not visiting and get together and laugh about the attempt to tempt me to skim.

Granted I did marry a daughter of a managing  director of Co-Op dairies so I should have realized the pressure to drink milk and eat ice cream etc.  We bought gallons of it over the years with our kids.

When the Christie family visits us we are able to buy Homo milk (3.25%) for the boys.  I admit on those days I use their milk on my cereal in the morning (while looking around not to get caught) but not in my glass for lunch.

In any event, I drink a lot of milk.  When we are travelling and stop at a Subways I get the biggest, fattest sub they have but always pick up one of those 500 ml bottles of milk (those bottles that are enclosed in a white wrap)

Yesterday, Pat and I drove down to Nanaimo for our Miata Club general meeting with pot-luck and bring your own drinks.  I was sitting with our friends and brought out the 500 ml bottle of milk that I had brought along while the other guys were drinking coffee, cokes or a beer.  They were stunned.  John, our President, said that he could not believe an adult drinking milk when beer was available. Most of the group confirmed that they only drink milk on cereal or in their coffee.

John went on to announce to the people around that humans are the only species who drinks milk beyond infancy.  I replied that as we are the head of the food chain, we can and furthermore if offered to other species (like cats) they would love it.  Then I pointed out humans are the only species that drink beer and rum and scotch.  Not sure I won the argument.  (John can be opinionated unlike me)

Still, I like milk, and the good thing about the 500 ml bottles of milk, they are 2% ….uhmm good.

1812 Overture

I am re-reading the Horatio Hornblower series of books that I love.  The current book is Commodore Hornblower, which unlike others, I have read only once.

Hornblower is now a Commodore (above Captain and below Admiral) and takes his group of ships into the Baltic sea in June 1812.  At the time Russia and Sweden were somewhat allied with Napoleon but neutral enough that an English commodore could be invited ashore to meet the local gentry.  He is in the port of Riga (now Latvia but then a part of Russia) when Napoleon invades Russia.  So suddenly England is now an ally of Russia and Hornblower meets the local Generals of the Russian army prepared to fight the French to see how he can assist.  In the meeting he is introduced to a Prussian officer Von Clausewitz who has abandoned the Prussian army, which is now part of Napoleon’s army.  Von Clausewitz is acting as an advisor to the Russian Army.

Now at this point I stopped and said, wait a minute is this true?  So got onto the internet and sure enough Von Clausewitz  (along with other Prussian officers) did switch to the Russian army in 1812 (rather than serve under Napoleon)

As I read about this period of his career at this time, it easily lead to the Napoleon march into Russia in the summer and fall of 1812, with the battle of Borodino, the burning of Moscow and the eventual destruction of the French army as winter came on.

Now in the historical reading you come across the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture which apparently replicates the 6 months of the French invasion of Russia and the eventual Russian victory.

I have listened to this overture many times and always had the misguided opinion that it was only about the Battle of Borodino but it is actually about the entire 6 months.

There is a breakdown on the internet to the sections of the music linked to the historical events.  Never knew this, so I played one of the versions of 1812 that we have on our Sonos while following the stages.  But as Pat and I listened to it, we realized this was not the version that we loved when we lived in Markham with the Cincinnati Symphony and the big guns.

In about 1980 I had invested in a very expensive Stereo system with speakers that  could entertain a rock concert.  I purchased the Cincinnati Symphony record because it was considered the best on the market (at the time it cost an astronomical $25).  The symphony actually used real 18th century guns for the 16 cannon shots that were originally intended by Tchaikovsky.  Most orchestra recordings use a big Kettle drum to simulate the cannon but there is no comparison.

I am sure our older kids will remember that setting up the speakers in the street and playing the 1812 overture was a highlight of the Sir Ector Court summer party.

But somehow this recording was lost (along with the 18″ speakers) in our many moves.  The recorded versions we have are nice, typical of great orchestras, but weak and not the same.  Tonight, after hours of searching I have downloaded the digital version of the original recording that we loved.  While there is always a limitation in digital and MP3 and our fairly limited ceiling speakers, it was still lovely.  Even Pat cheered at the end.

All because I was re-reading Hornblower.

Rosewall Creek Hike

Our hiking group did the Rosewall Creek Hike today.  This is a stream / small river that flows from the mountains down into the Ocean about 15 minute drive south of Courtenay.

The weather was comfortable with periods of sunshine and periods of light misty rain.  The hike follows the stream up through a valley of old growth cedar rain forest.  A fairly easy 4 km  hike (each way) on a good trail but hampered by many trees that fell down during the storm last winter.  A bit of a scramble but worth it to get to the falls.

The first waterfall is small but with a fabulous view (see pic on left)

The second and major falls (pic on right )  requires a difficult climb to a vantage point.  The trail continues beyond this viewpoint but no one in our group wanted to risk it.

I love living next to the mountains










Another Leftovers Evening

We find it difficult to cook interesting meals for two people with some kind of variety.  As a result we have leftovers so we normally have odds and ends that we either use as an appetizer, or a lunch or a side dish in a future dinner.

Tonight we had to clean out the fridge.   We had Tikka Chicken, curried rice, corn niblets, big hunkin steamed shrimps and BBQ honey chicken wings.  I even threw in some leftover sauce in the chicken from a meal I cannot remember.

It was as if we were at a cheap buffet.

Still a nice meal with a cornucopia of different flavors.  Not sure a meal I would serve to guests, but not bad.

Tomorrow we have a clean slate for our dinner plan.

Lonely Hearts Club

I was invited to join the local Lonely Hearts Club.

This is the club for husbands where their wives have evenings out.  Think of it as the pay back for the years in the past when the husbands went off to dinners and the wives (assuming after the kids were old enough) got together themselves.

This club is for the husbands of the women that are executives or members of the newcomers or the alumni club in the valley.  These ladies meet at least monthly for what is supposed to be presentations on club activities and maybe fashions or a speaker on environment.  All I know is Pat comes home happy from her outing with the female group and I have had an evening of eating leftovers and watching the recorded TV programs that she does not enjoy (The Walking Dead for example)

There are great guys that I have met through the group (granted the group that came from Pat’s membership)  Some of them have the same attitude as I have.  Why should we sit home alone when the wives are out at a party, particularly when we used to be the guys out before we retired?

So a couple of the guys formed a group called the Lonely Hearts Club for men.  On the evenings when the women are off having their fun (and we suspect watching really boring presentations) the husbands would join and go out to a pub or restaurant.

Last night we investigated a new Indian restaurant in Campbell River called Hot Spice (which apparently is a chain)  It was OK but the best part was the male bonding.  I pontificated on my experience on the various aspects of Indian cuisine.  My presentation was well received although there was a lot of beer consumed.

Now I look forward to the evenings when Pat is going to be away.  I hope I get invited back


Deer Fence

Well it is finished.  I built a cedar fence along the house to protect the roses and our tomato garden from the evil deer.

In years past I pounded in metal stakes and used plastic mesh to protect the tomatoes but the roses were left to nature.  We would see buds about to bloom and the next morning gone.  The pernicious deer would treat the blooms as an appetizer on their evening of grazing through the yards.  I tried bitterent spray and all I would find the next morning were the flowers spit out on the ground as you would from a two year old given chopped brussel sprouts for the first time.

So I built this fence.  I tried to contact fencing companies but all they would offer were designs of metal mesh or black metal bars or even worse the lattice fence.

I wanted a fence that had narrow bars to keep the deer out but thin so the sun would shine on the plants.  I had a design but no one to build it so I did it myself.

As an earlier blog mentioned, I am not a fan of digging post holes.  This is the kind of thing I need sons or sons-in-law living nearby to do for me, but as this is not possible I did it myself.

But it is done and here is the finished result.   I know it looks bright, but the cedar will weather to be the same colour as the stones behind.  I had originally thought of making the panels gates so they could be opened to plant and weed and harvest but that proved impractical.  So each of the panels are in slots so they can be lifted out (they are cedar so light) Kind of a neat idea if I say so myself.


Deer Fence

Assembly Line Work

There are boring activities that you need to do in life.  Repetitive jobs like mowing the grass or painting a fence.  You expect this but there is enough reward in the completion of a stretch or an portion of the yard that keeps you motivated.

Occasionally I have to do a job in the shop that reminds me why I went to University instead of working on a high paying assembly line.

I am building a deer fence/barrier around our little garden on the side of the house where we grow roses and tomatoes.  I did not want a metal grid fence I wanted cedar to match the yard.  So think of a frame with cedar dowels (except you cannot get Cedar dowels because it is too soft)  So I am making my own cut down from boards.  I cut them into 4 foot long shafts roughly 1 inch square (see picture one)

You cannot put square shafts into round holes in the frame so I have to round the ends to the diameter of the holes.  For this I used my narrow sanding belt (see picture 2)

In the end I have 75 shafts with 150  ends  (see picture 3)

This was 3 hours of tedious work that required attention to detail but was still boring.  It was like working on an assembly line in China or India.  Boy am I ever glad I went to University.



Digging Post Holes

I should have remembered that it is a major chore to dig holes in the glacial till that makes up our subsoil around here.  Blaine and I dug the holes for the Pergola years ago when we were younger and it was still exhausting.

On the west side of our house we have a strip where we have a bit of a rose garden and an area where we plant Tomatoes.

Around here we have this plague called DEER that consume everything.  Think of Locusts but because they have 4 legs and are cute, we cannot kill them.

Over the years I have erected temporary fences with plastic mesh to protect the tomatoes ( the roses are lost to deer, they love the blooms and somehow avoid the thorns)   But it was unattractive.

I determined that this year I was going to erect a barrier fence along the wall with lift-out panels.  Not a solid fence but thin vertical cedar rods so that the sun could get in but narrow so the deer could not get through.  Cedar so it would match the coloring of our house.

Great concept but nothing that hired fencing companies could understand.  All they know is boards or metal wires or lattice.  Nothing that I wanted so I decided to build it myself.

Today I spent 5 hours digging 6 post holes.  I rented a clamshell digger but ended up using my heavy spud bar and pulling out the gravel by hand.   Absolutely exhausting.  Pat says she could hear the house shake as I slammed the bar into the ground trying to break up rocks.  At one point, a foot down, I hit on a ridge of granite that I suspect was connected to the core of Vancouver Island (I ended up moving the hole)

I used to be able to do this kind of work all  day when I was 30, but apparently I am no longer young.  I took lots of breaks sitting and wondering why I had not hired someone.

At the end of the day I have 6 holes dug and after a long shower and a Pizza dinner feel pretty good.  (some wine helped)

I will send a picture of the deer barrier once it is completed.


Oyster River

Blaine and Lisa came over for a visit this week.  We had a lovely day so decided to go on a hike.  We chose a trail that starts beside a pub on Oyster River north of us down to the ocean and along the coast to Salmon Point.  There is a another pub at the end of Salmon Point where we sat outside for a wonderful lunch and then hiked back to the car.  An easy 6 km hike called the Pub to Pub Oyster River trail.

Beautiful sunny day with clear views of the islands and Mountains.  Another reason why we call this place Paradise.

Oyster River Hike