Archive for August, 2015

Korean BBQ

Our new neighbours are Korean, well Canadian but born in South Korea.  Nice couple with 2 kids at home and a huge dog named Typhoon.

We have invited them over for drinks and have exchanged lots of conversations over the fence.  One evening they brought us some Korean melons (Chamoe) that I have occasionally seen at the store but never had the nerve to try.  Delicious with a flavour sort of a combination of apple and cucumber.  In turn we have given them some of our abundant crop of fresh tomatoes.

The other night Pat and I were watching TV when I smelled a fragrant smoke coming in the open windows.  I went out to investigate and peeked over the fence to see that Bill was firing up his wood BBQ.  He has a typical gas BBQ but also a kettle where he was burning some kind of hard wood.  Later the fragrance of divine  BBQ floated in.  Well after supper for us but still made the juices flow.

The next morning they brought over a plate of the Korean BBQ pork that Bill had prepared the night before.  Apparently they had noticed me peeking over the fence and were concerned that we were bothered by the fragrance.  I had a piece for lunch and Pat had the second portion for dinner.  Absolutely wonderful.

Southern American states think they have the lock on great BBQ pork, but I will tell you Korean BBQ pork can be even better.

When I brought the clean plate back I assured them that we will never be offended when they Barbeque (which hopefully gets more samples for us).

Never Play Range Balls

In the evening we take the dogs for a walk on the golf course behind us.  We avoid any active players but it does leave us with long lovely evening strolls on green grass.

A wonderful evening tonight but a bit cooler so as we walked along there were no players on the course which allowed us to walk down the middle of the fairways.

We were returning home on the 5th hole which is a great par 5 that wraps around a water hazard in a long curve.  Thousands of balls have been lost into the water or the fringe over the years including at least 2 dozen of my Petro-Canada balls.

As there were no players we wandered along the fringe looking for some of the balls that I have donated over the years.  I found a half dozen golf balls but very disturbing, two of them were range balls.

Now for those of you that do not play golf, range balls are what you rent at the practice driving range to warm up before you play.  Etiquette of golf is that you never steal or use range balls on the course.  Range balls are marked with black lines and the theory is that if you are ever caught playing one you are thrown off the course and banned for life.

There is a concept of marginal players to use what is referred to as a water ball on a tough hole.  A par three that is 150 yards over water to a small green will make the normal player reach into his bag to play a banged up Precept ball he found earlier instead of the expensive Callaway he has been playing.  So no surprise that on the par 5 fifth hole with a reputation of eating poor drives that someone would reach for a Water Ball.

But it has to be the ultimate of poor propriety to use a range ball.  I cannot imagine watching someone trying this and not making comment.  The fact that I found 2 balls at different areas on the hole means that some people are really really cheap.  You pay $70 for a round why would you do this?

Still I remember when I was young and losing a golf ball was a major problem.  But even then I would never use a range ball.

Caught Watering

Here on the West Coast we are facing a major drought.  You will have realized this from the major forest fires that run from California to the Yukon.

It is normal in the summer in Paradise to have lawn watering restrictions.  Year round we draw our water from Comox Lake which in turn is fed from the Comox Glacier. The freshest, best tasting water in the world.  Well maybe there are a couple of villages in Switzerland that might claim this but as their glaciers are fed from clouds coming from the Ruhr valley or Bulgaria, I doubt it.

When we first moved here I asked my contractor what was the name for the huge glacier to the west of us.  It is the Comox Glacier and it has been a glowing white view all year round.

This last winter we had no snow and when spring came along the Glacier was nowhere near as big as it should be.  As the warm spring and summer came on the source of our fresh water shrunk and they put all the residents on Level III watering restrictions.  We look up in the mountains and despair about the shrinkage in the colossus.

Now this is not as bad as in California where they give instructions about toilets… “if it is yellow, let it mellow, if it is brown flush it down”  We are not yet at that stage.  The rivers are still running and the lake is there, but lower level than normal.

Following the rules, I have turned off all our automatic sprinklers and water the flower beds by hand.  Despite this there are many homes in our neighbourhood where the residents live in Alberta and only come to play golf, where they leave the sprinklers on.  Now there is no actual fines but there are volunteers that go around handing out notices.

This morning I was heading off to pick up my morning National Post.  No one was walking on the street so I cheated by turning on the sprinkler system for the front flower beds for 8 minutes.

Came home to a notice in our mailbox that the watering police chose that 8 minutes to walk by our place and catch me.

No excuse,  I was guilty.  Should have dragged the hose out when I came back and watered the flowers by hand.

I am sure there is a moral to this story…  I suspect it is… do not get caught.


When we grew up in Saskatchewan there was a summer tradition of  heading to the coulees or the valley to pick Saskatoon berries.  Well it was a tradition for the poor people because the town merchants in Regina could just wait and buy the Saskatoons in quarts from those that went out and needed money.

There was always a cost in picking Saskatoon Berries.  The bushes grew on steep slopes and you could always guarantee that they were protected by hoards of mosquitos.

As a kid, I loved Saskatoon pie but hated the process of picking the berries needed for the dessert.

Here in Paradise we have a different berry plant.  Blackberries.  At this time of year all the rough areas around recently cut forests are covered in Blackberry bushes.  You cannot take a walk on any trail without seeing bushels of Blackberries just waiting to be plucked.

But unlike Saskatoon berries or blueberries, Blackberries to not depend on Mosquitos to keep people away.  They grow on vines covered with thorns that just grab you when you reach into pluck a luscious berry.  Many is the person that heads out to pick a few berries for dessert and comes back with bleeding legs and arms.

Pat and I took the dogs out to an area near the home but armed with berry picking accoutrement.  Long pants and sleeves with a hook made from a clothes hanger so we could pull the branches to us for the plucking.  We ended up with a quart of Blackberries which will make up our dessert for the next few nights.

Worked so well I was thinking Pat and I could augment our retirement funds with a few 8 hour days, but that was rejected.

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Dining With Dogs

We are sharing our lovely summer with 2 Westie dogs.  They have been entrusted to us by Janine and Vedran as they are living in temporary housing in Ohio.  (I am sure that anyone not affiliated with the family will have pre-conceptions about what that situation means.)

It is the equivalent of taking care of two young grandchildren.

Now I do like the dogs but it has taken some time for me to develop a relationship with them beyond feeding and walking.  As Pat would tell you, I am the crusty grandpa, but  that is because I am not big on being kissed on the lips by a dog that recently tasted deer droppings in the back yard.

Jackes wants to spend the evening as we watch TV on my lap, while Reese wants to be cuddled by Pat.  Problem is that Jackes weighs 20 lbs and after awhile I feel the circulation going and fearing gangrene I push him off to lay on the floor.  For some reason he still loves me.


This has been a wonderful summer where Pat and I have most of our dinners out on the patio.  We make sure to feed the dogs with their cup of kibble before we sit to dine or I fear they would chew on our legs.  They are fed which keeps them from crawling on our laps as we dine but they hover around us hoping we drop food particles to augment their boring diet.

I have been adamant about not feeding from the table so the dogs have learned a routine to walk 10 feet out onto the lawn, turn their backs to us and excravate (whatever the term is) .

Fortunately Pat and I have learned to ignore this obvious attempt to intimidate us, so they eventually come back to the patio and lay down waiting for their late night treat before bed.

Two months and you would think they would learn a new routine.




Attached is a picture of the crowsnest for The Mathew.  Particularly proud of this item.  Made up from 19 individual parts.  The assembly was very difficult.  Getting all those vertical pieces to line up as I attached the top was worse than herding 12 cats.  Still I was quite puffed when it was finished.  It took me 2 days but I think it was worth it.

Here comes the interesting part of this picture.  I brought it upstairs to show Pat and take the picture.  Right after taking the picture I was carrying the crowsnest and the camera in one hand over to the den when the camera started to slip from my hand.  In saving the camera I crushed the crowsnest in my hand and it fell to the ground in a dozen pieces.

Pat shrieked but in my new calm attitude on life I just looked down and said “Hmmm I regret doing that”

Fortunately the lessons learned in assembling it the first time meant it only took me an hour to reassemble and replace the broken parts.  Looks as good as new, maybe better.



Fish Heads, Fish Heads

Fish heads, fish heads rolly polly fish heads. Fish heads, Fish Heads eat them up yum……

I expect my younger fans will not remember this but it is a song from the past, a song sung by our kids at one time.

Pat went off to church this morning and stopped in at the local Thrifty’s to pick up some milk.  For some reason she stopped to watch the fish butcher cutting up fresh Halibut.

Now many grocery stores have open views of the meat butcher chopping up loins, but here on the Island we have visible fish butchers (or I suspect the proper term is mongers) chopping heads and tails and creating slabs of fresh fish.  The monger was pushing the heads and tails and fins to one side on the table.  Pat asked him “what do you do with that?”  He replied (probably thinking, well we mostly throw it in the garbage) “We sell it at 19 cents a pound”. Pat said “Load it on” and came home with a bundle that cost her $3.75.

She arrived home very excited on her purchase with the view that it was now my job to go through the pile and cut off the good bits.  Turns out there was lots of great Halibut pieces (about 1 lb or 500g) so a bargain.  I was able to fillet off the easy pieces from the remnants but we were left with 2 kg (about 5 lbs) of heads, fins and fat layers of fresh Halibut with lots of meat.  I expect chefs around the world would love to have had our opportunity.

So I took out our biggest pot and spent the morning making fish stock with veggies and spices.  Even after reduction we have a gallon of this fragrant juice.

Great concept but what do you do with a gallon of fish stock?  We do have some deep freeze sections in our two fridges but this takes up some space.  I suspect we will be having lots of fish chowder and bouillabaisse over the next week or more.


Bruschetta Season

Whatever genetic fragment I may have from past forefathers that were farmers manifests itself in growing a few tomatoes and some herbs each summer.  We have a perfect spot against the wall of the house facing the southwest.  Protected by a deer fence we produce prodigious quantities of tomatoes from just 3 plants.  Two of the plants produce the miniature tomatoes and the third full size.

Come this time of year we are harvesting more tomatoes than normal people can consume.  Tomato sandwiches, tomato sauces , tomato salads are standard fare.  But one thing we do love is Bruschetta.  This combines our over abundance of small tomatoes and our crop of Basil.  For the next few weeks we will indulge in Bruschetta before every meal and never tire of it.  Bruschetta goes with everything… Pasta meals, BBQ steak, hot dogs even Paella.  Yum

Cell Phones on a Golf Course

I am from the old school where no one took a cell phone on the golf course.  A doctor or an expectant father might get away with a vibrating pager, but never a cell phone.

First of all you are supposed to be relaxing on the course.  Leave the issues at work and other cares behind you.  Plus there is the concept that there should be silence when you are swinging a club.

This started to change with younger guys thinking they are so essential to the company that bankruptcy might happen if they were not immediately involved.  Then came the concept of just accepting texts or notifications for an update from a facebook change.  Now you watch guys walking a course typing on their IPhone between shots.

It is creeping up the age group.  Guys my age are playing with a cell phones turned on and some connected to their hips.  I mean how important can anything be to a retired guy?

Now I do carry a cell phone in my golf bag but it is turned off.  I carry it because guys my age might need medical help way out there.

I was playing a round last week with 3 guys I barely know from our Probus club.  I am in the back swing of a 150 yard shot to the green when from a guy standing behind me there is a loud electronic tune.  My ball goes awry.   I turn around with a bit of a frown and he shrugs and says lightly “sorry” and I watch him read his important text message.

His wife texted him… “do not contact me or text me for the next two hours as I am going into a concert.”  He thought it was so funny and Ironic.  But he did not say “Bruce I apologize, I will turn this cell off please do a re-hit”  This guy is older than I am and just walked on to his next shot chuckling.  (I did a rehit but was so mad it was not much better)

I suggested at the next tee that everyone turn off their cell phones but was just looked at as if I had suggested hari-kari.

What a different world we live in.


Please Sir…. I want some more.

In the Charles Dicken’s book about an orphan named Oliver, probably the most quotable line is when the poor pathetic starving child comes up to the over-fed workhouse wardens with his bowl and says “Please Sir, I want some More”.

Now we follow the food restrictions for Reese and Jackes that Janine and Vedran gave us when they trusted us with them for the summer.

For the most part we have religiously followed these quantity instructions.  With the few exceptions that grandparents or whatever the term is for us, we might offer some special treats to make their visit here memorable.  We justify the extra treats with longer walks and exercise.

Every night we feed them their allocated portions about a half hour before our meal.

Never-the-less as we sit to dine we see the two of them looking up at us with their big black eyes and a pathetic look just saying “Please Masters…we want some More”

We, of course, take the attitude of the workhouse wardens, looking down at our full plates, and just ignore them.  I tease them occasionally with a fork of steak hovered over and return to my mouth, but mainly ignore them.  I suspect this pathetic look at their home gets them some extra food, but not at the grandparents..

Granted we do feed them before our meal because they have sharp teeth and we do have bare legs at the table during the summer.