Archive for November, 2016

The Finishing of HMS Diana

I am basically finished with the hull of the Diana after about 2 1/2 years.  I am now at the finicky artistic details that take so long.

Now when you think of a sculptor and he describes his technique as chipping away all the pieces that do not belong to the finished image.  Now try that when the image is 2 cm long.

So I have started with the easy pieces. The lions and the figure of Apollo on the stern.  How do you get 3 dimensional carvings with wood that is only 1 mm thick?

You use dental bits and try to get the image.  When the foreleg on the lion shatters you just start again.  Multiple chances.  These will look much better when covered in gold.

Now these are the easy pieces.  I am working my way up to the stern figures and then in a few weeks will attempt the figurehead.

In the future, no one will try to carve this out of solid wood.  A 3 D printer will just make perfect images.

Still I hope Kelly and David will appreciate that I did these the old fashioned way.  A dying art.


A Hand-Tied Bow Tie Evening

Friends of ours invited us to join them in a wine tasting and charity event in Campbell River.  Granted $55 per person for the tickets, but as they are friends, we agreed.

This was held at the North Island College campus in Campbell River as a special event for the Culinary School to show off their skills.   Then came the notice that the evening was semi-formal.

Now, I no longer have my Tuxedo (it shrunk to nothing years ago) but I do have a black suit and white shirt and several bow ties.  As we prepared for picking up our friends, I spent 20 minutes in front of a mirror trying to remember how to tie a bow tie, but managed to get it tied before we had to head on.

The reception turned out beyond our expectations.  At least 20 wine companies offering samples.  At least 100 different wines and dozens of specialty spirits (like aquavit and port) to sample and more appetizers than you can imagine.

I did my round doing tiny samples of wine.  Judging the good from the bad.  Turns out as I looked up the good ones I liked (in the booklet they handed out), they were mainly $30 or more per bottle.

There were hundreds of people, not all in formal wear (I suspect the university had discount tickets for some) but many in Tuxedos and suits.  There was also a charity auction (where Pat and I did bid on things that were unusual but more expensive) but altogether a great evening.

Now here is the point… at a certain time, because it was warm in the room, I untied the bow tie and let it rest down my chest.  A young lady approached to say I looked like her vision of Frank Sinatra from the movies.  I told her that if you looked around the room, every man in a Tuxedo that did not have his tie “resting” like mine (being the later evening) … had a clip-on bow tie.  Which was likely true.

It was worth the half-hour of trying to tie the bow tie.

Rat Nose Salmon

Pat and I have a great friend that loves (when he has time) to go off in his expensive fishing boat from Port Alberni (an hour  away from here in Paradise) to catch fish.  Now we are talking about a boat that costs about the same as a good house here in the valley.  This is our friend that is a pretty successful Saskatchewan potato farmer.

For some reason he thinks catching big fish is well, great.

Harry has paid big money to catch tuna in Cuba and bonito in Baja Mexico.

Anyway, for some reason he likes me (even though I make fun of his fishing  addiction) and often invites me to join him.

I came back from a fishing trip with him where he spent $700 in fuel and I (being the polite friend) pointed out that we could buy all the fish we caught that day at the local Supermarket for a fraction of the cost of taking his boat without getting wet.  Apparently I do not understand.  The good news is that Harry still likes me. (What is not to like?)

Earlier this year Harry and Marie brought over some deep frozen packets of the salmon they caught this last summer.

Vacuum sealed and deep frozen.  Harry wrote on the packet the location where he had caught the fish, in this case, Rat Nose … the type of salmon, Coho, and the date.

Tonight I prepared the huge fillet of salmon in the oven with some lemon slices.  Wonderful meal, Pat and I could not finish.  But the inked label on the package gave me an idea.

The sealed pack had the date he caught the Coho out in the ocean, and the marine point where caught, the aforesaid Rat Nose.  This is an under sea promontory about 30 km west of Tofino .  I only know this because Harry took me out there one day.  We are talking 4 hours out into the Pacific and 2 hours of fishing and 4 hours back.  And we caught a lot of fish.

So Harry gives us this frozen packet of salmon labeled Rat Nose Coho.  It was delicious.  And then I wondered if maybe we could do something with this.

Now at first, you might think Rat Nose Salmon might put people off, but therein you could be wrong.

A couple of years ago, Pat and I were looking for a bottle of wine to bring to a party.  We discovered a brand of white wine from New Zealand called Cat Pee on a Mulberry Bush.  Great wine.

Turns out that outrageous wine brands are the latest rage.

So I am thinking I partner with Harry to market a brand of Rat Nose Coho salmon.  We could make millions.

A Jesse Evening

Thursday night (after my pretty good days) Pat and I went to see Jesse Cook at the local theatre…. A bit of background

Sometime in 2007 Mary Ellen gave us a recording of this Guitarist called Jesse Cook who she thought we would enjoy.  We loved it.  A combination of Flamingo and jazz

In 2009 we were driving and heard on the radio that Jesse was going to have a show at the community centre in Qualicum Beach.  Give you an idea, you had to buy the tickets at a variety of book stores and coffee shops up and down the valley.  We stopped in and bought 2 tickets on our way home.

We went to the show in a relatively small theatre (about 300) and when Jesse came on stage with his small 3 person group they seemed stunned by the cheers.  They had planned this as part of a rehearsal tour before they tried the big cities.  I remember walking up to the stage to chat with them at the interval (they stayed on stage) and noticed that their play list was on pieces of paper on the floor.  We loved that show and bought more CDs over the years.

Although they are a Toronto based group they now traditionally start their tour each second year on Vancouver Island.  Jesse now has 4 great musicians as backup and a big bus with trailer.  Their tour prep has 5 stops on the Island before they head on to the mainland and then down through the states. A much more polished show, but it still is centered on Jesse and his phenomenal guitar skills.  We have now seen them 4 times.

Last night after the opening number, Jesse walked to the front of the stage and quietly told the audience that just before coming on he was told that Leonard Cohen had died.  No one in the audience had heard, so there was a great sigh.  The group continued with their show to the intermission.  Everyone went off to the lobby for a glass of wine (good luck getting near the bar) or to chat.

When Jesse came on stage without his band after the intermission, he sat on a stool in the spotlight and told us that while we were chatting he practiced this.  He then did a classic guitar version of Hallelujah.  Dead quiet in the auditorium.  A class guy.

The second half of the show went well.  While most of his music is instrumental there are a few songs that he wrote.  For those songs many in the audience knew the words and sang along.

Another great evening in Paradise.  (I know it is sounding like a broken record)

Another great Evening

I was given feedback that my previous blog about a great day should have been ruined by some kind of election in a foreign country, but it did not.

As I mentioned in the earlier blog, I belong to an Elder College class on the fictional novels of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic war (which for you that do not know, roughly runs from 1793 until 1815).  There is a massive genre of books written about this era (mostly from the British side)

Authors like C S Forester and Patrick O’Brian and Alexander Kent who have sold millions of books.

Our leader chose 4 books for our book club to discuss.  One from each of the authors above (who are all dead or near death) and another author who was publishing in the nineties named Sean Thomas Russell.  I had read all the books for the course including the Russell book, but reread them before each class so I could contribute.

The class of 11 was made up of guys like me that love this genre and two members that just like book clubs.  But while most of them can enjoy the books, they are not necessarily up on the technical details that are often used in the novels (things like what is a Euphroe and what is the difference between coming about and wearing about)  So our group leader asked me to make the presentation that I made on Tuesday.  As I said very well received.  Anyway …anyway …

Before the series started I noticed that there was a TCM movie on called Captain Horatio Hornblower which I recorded.  Apparently a major hit in 1952 starring Gregory Peck and because the first book we were discussing was an early Hornblower  novel, our leader suggested that we have a field trip to my house for an evening where we could watch the movie.  While here the group could spend more time looking at my model of the frigate and I could give a tour of the workshop and next Frigate model on the ways.  Everyone in the class signed up.

No need for me to prepare food.  One of the guys is affiliated with a micro brewery and brought 7 jugs of various beers.  Another brought pickled eggs and another brought smoked salmon plus nuts etc.  Lots of snacks.

The big surprise was that our leader had contacted Sean Russell, the author of the last book we will review in a couple of weeks, to join us.  His books are sold around the world and it turns out, he lives in Comox.  A great guy and he agreed to come for the party because he wanted to see my model of the Juno.  Now that could have been the highlight of the evening but then another member came in with an authentic 1790 issue Brown Bess musket and a Navy flintlock pistol from the same period.  Another guy brought a Royal Navy sword issued in 1805 and another guy brought two Legion of Honor medals that Napoleon would have presented someone.

With all the food and beer and things to show it took awhile before the movie started.  Actually a well made movie but you had a bunch of guys watching and pointing out the technical flaws (ceiling in the captain’s cabin was easily 7 feet instead of 5 feet etc)  We had a lot of fun.

Two great days so you can appreciate why I do not give that much care to the election.

I had a Good Day

Now I realize this is supposed to be a site about the philosophical delight of living in Paradise (which frankly has been very wet over the last month) and not about my personal life triumphs ….. wait a minute, now that I think about it, I suspect this was what Meagen intended when she set this up.

I had a good day.


This morning at Elder College I gave a hour and half presentation on Royal Navy life in 1800 that included a detailed tour of my Frigate model and the audience was clamouring for more.  Pat was in attendance and will verify.  Granted the audience were a bunch of old guys like me that love the genre of Hornblower type books, but still gratifying.

In the afternoon at our Probus monthly meeting I introduced the key note speaker that I sought out and arranged to talk about the history of the Comox air base.  Again to standing ovation.

A good day if I say so myself.


It is Rainy

Now you seldom hear me offer any criticism of life in Paradise, but I have to admit that it is rainy.

Apparently the jet stream has shifted right over our head and is bringing in storm after storm after storm.  This is good news for the west coast of the Island where people come from all over to experience the winter storms crashing on the coast of Tofino, but on this side it is mostly rain.

Not torrential but just steady rain with brief periods of drizzle and then more rain.  Not cold but damp.

This is why apparently many of our neighbours have homes or RV sites in Arizona.

Still everything is green and lush and we still have some flowers in our hanging baskets.  And watching crazy golf nuts go by playing because the temperature is warm.

Unfortunately our hiking group has not been going out and I have a yard of fallen leaves and end-of-year gardening (cutting back the roses and clearing the huge tomato plants for example) but I suspect that we will eventually have a break.  In the meantime we have the fireplace in the evening and a whole summer of recorded movies to watch.

A great meal with World Series

It is Wednesday night and I have to admit, not the kind of evening that we would advertise as Paradise.  We have had 2 weeks of rain and a forecast of 2 more weeks to follow.  Not particularly cold, but the reason why people here in Paradise head to Arizona or Mexico.

Pat and I are both recovering from colds so reluctant to head off into the outdoors.  This is normally the night that we join our Miata friends at the local A&W for hamburgers and root beer, but we cancelled out.

We are watching the final game of the world series.  Through the series, Pat has chosen to cheer for the Indians and I thought I would cheer for the Cubs.  As a true fan of the Jays I should be supporting the American League champs, and I did enjoy the movie Major League so should be cheering on these chumps, but lets face it.. the Cubs are 104 years from their last championship.

So we had a reason to  stay home, enjoy a meal inside a warm house, and cheer for our teams.

I prepared Chicken Cordon Bleu (chicken stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham) breaded and baked in the oven, with small potatoes and veggies and salad on the side.

During the preparation, Pat was working on the computer (for one of her many responsibilities) watching the game in the den as I watched my Cubs start to move ahead.

We had a great meal (where I required that we shut off the TV) and rejoined to see an exciting game.

As I write this, Pat is policing the area and we are enjoying a great world series final game.  Two teams that deserve a victory…


Our Hallowe’en

It was a good night for Hallowe’en last night.  Overcast but for the first time in a week, no drizzle and a mild 8°C.

I have fond memories as a kid going out in Regina, sometimes dressed in a parka, but with a pillow case to capture all the goodies.  Blaine and I would come home and spread out all the supplies and amongst the hard, horrible wrapped toffee called ‘Hallowe’en candy’ there were some real treats.  Hidden under the bed to enjoy as a “sweetie” before Christmas.

When we had our kids we tried to get into the spirit and would start to decorate the house with almost as much creation as for Christmas.  For many years I would escort the kids and would encourage them to move on to maximize production.  James was particularly bad at this because he would try to explain his costume to the householder.  Granted it usually led to an extra treat, but not the training I had as a kid to hit the maximum amount of houses in the 2 hours available.

In our last few years in Oakville (when our kids had moved out) our neighbours and I would put on elaborate scary scenes on the lawn and in the garage.  I would dress up in a costume and try to entertain kids as they came to the door. Massive amount of kids showing up.  When our kids showed up we would pile up their goodies and pick out those obnoxious Hallowe’en toffee candies and give them out to the teenagers that came later.

Years pass and we are now in a neighborhood without a lot of children.  Pat and I now put out a lot of treats to try (like the Witch in Sleeping Beauty) to tempt them to our house.  Alas, as we are in a senior’s area, the little kids just do not come.  So everyone that came this year got a double treat.  A Wagon Wheel and a bag of Hawkins Cheezies.  I would have come back again and again to this house if I was a 10 year old.

We had 18 kids last night.  One group of 10 girls showed up in great costumes with full face makeup and they were so excited, wishing me Happy Hallowe’en.

I mean, what is “Happy Hallowe’en”?  Where is the threat of tricks or treats?    So I gave them double double.

We had 2 more girls show up and as I was putting in their goodies I asked how they were doing on the street.  Turns out not well. So when they left I walked out and strolled up and down our street, and the 4 houses on each side were blacked out, even though I know people were home in them.  But 5 houses down was a couple that was still in the spirit, with a graveyard in the front lawn and scary music.

As I returned home, I realized our Hallowe’en decoration was pretty pathetic.  (see Pic)  Granted, not sure that if we had had an elaborate display, we would have had any more kids.

The two teenagers that came at 8:45 got full treats.

I kind of miss the traditional Hallowe’en.